note – this was one of the most viewed/re blogged posts on my blog, but I pulled it a few months ago because of creepy and inappropriate searches. This is for education, not a how too … Another related article I have written since then is desexing the answer. or the questions? Enjoy!
Do you all remember that very uncomfortable sex talk with your parents, or sitting through sex education with boys and girls in middle school? The horror! Perhaps it was just my generation, but I doubt it.
Humans talking about their own sexuality isn’t easy, speaking in general of course. Maybe because it goes beyond the act of sex and crosses the line of relationship and connection? In any case we will leave that up to the sex experts the like of Alfred Charles Kinsey to Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
Humans talking about canine sex? That is way more fun. From my observations over the years in our puppy and adolescent classes, dogs have zero hang ups when it comes to their own sexuality. In fact they revel in it, celebrate it, and put it out there for everyone. Some more than others to be sure. I’ve never seen a dog try to apologize for enjoying their own sexuality, ever. If talking about sex, the act of sexual intercourse, sexual organs, orgies, or maleness make you uncomfortable, please hang in there. This is all part of dog ownership, and I feel really important.
If you’ve ever attended one of our 10-16 week old puppy classes you know that some nights can be like virtual orgies. It’s too tender of an age to have sexual maturity, but puppies operate on play and skill building. They try things out, they watch and observe, try it again, and if it works and they like it and it’s mutual, they will repeat it. It’s singly the one behavior in play that unravels most of our puppy owners, some can’t handle it. Some think it’s early signs of dominance, others are uncomfortable with sex in generally, the horror at seeing their little fluffy puppy enjoying sex play, dear god what do I have living in my house!
Bottom line, the puppy’s are fine with their sex play, the majority of the time it’s mutual, and it goes from running, chasing, rolling around, mounting, running, rolling, mounting, to chilling out together. Socially and emotionally, with their own species during early development, I believe it’s important. It’s fluid, it’s without conflict, and it’s skill building in play. I will note that we have had a few puppies over the years that went through early maturation and their only form of play was mounting. It was obsessive, and it wasn’t just with their puppy friends. They were equal opportunists with puppy’s, people, objects, and air. I’m not sure any of those owners went to their veterinary and asked for a hormone level blood draw. I’m pretty sure they simply said, neuter him today.
The male canine is referred to as a dog, if left unaltered they are referred to as a dog or an intact male. They reach sexual maturity between 6-12 months of age, right in the heart of adolescence. This means, that while they are still socially and emotionally immature, and in one of the flakiest developmental phases, they are now able to reproduce. Truly Rock Stars!
At roughly 10-12 months of age they are referred to as an ultra male if left unaltered. They have 5-7 times more testosterone than an adult male, and it does not level off until 18-24 months of age. The adult canine world will no longer tolerate puppy antics from an ultra male, their testosterone smell, and testosterone levels in their urine tell an adult story. This can cause conflicts at the dog park, in multiple dog households, and while out and about hiking. And most of the time their play turns into play for sexual access, which again, can cause conflict with unknown dogs or dogs in the same household.
Ultra males need play with appropriately socialized dogs, a managed environment, and little to no dog park time. They need to be watched like a hawk in the home so they don’t learn to mark in your home, or anyone else’s for that matter. Fencing needs to be sturdy and high. Sexual mature dogs are receptive to mating at any time, even if a female is not in estrus. They are not cyclical, it’s 24/7 365.
Letting a young intact male cruise the neighborhood while you shovel the driveway, or run free on a trail is simply irresponsible. A sexually mature dog is a different kind of ownership and management, I’m not saying better or worse, just different. Think of it this way, how many people do you know that own a stallion? If you know someone who does, and they are few and far between, ask them how it’s different from owning a gelding?
In the past three to four years many dog owners are waiting to neuter until their dog reaches 11-13 months of age. A recommendation most of the time from their breeder or veterinarian. But why? Well there have been some really good studies that show how testosterone is linked to appropriate joint health including the growth plates. Please refer to Dr. Chris Zink’ articles on this topic.
I think this information is awesome, and all dog owners should read about it, however it needs to be balanced with the very real fact that the dog currently living in your home may be sexually mature and thinking about having sex the majority of the time. If you don’t want a sexually driven canine, and are not up to the management an intact male requires, than neutering slightly before sexual maturity would be a better option. It’s something that needs to be thought out, and in the best interest of everyone involved. Ha, in writing that I would seriously doubt a dog would say neutering is in his best interest, pretty sure I would be flipped the paw on that one.
If you talk to someone who fosters dogs, works at a rescue or volunteers at a shelter, they most likely will tell you all male dogs need to be neutered. And truly can you blame them? They see the very real problem with canine over population and the surplus that are euthanized each year because there aren’t enough homes available. I believe in 2009 it was a 17 million dog surplus that was euthanized. It’s safe to say that unmanaged dogs like to have sex, and if given the chance they will.
If you have a young intact male, be honest about who they will be growing into. Decide if it’s right for you and your household. If you don’t want to be a good manager of property, dog or space, than a sexually mature animal shouldn’t be in your future. And, because I have a lot of friends and acquaintances in the dog rescue world, and they would haunt me if I didn’t mention it, just because you have an intact male does not mean he has to have sex in his life time. It is not obligatory to pimp your male dog out just because he wants sex with the cute Golden next door.
On a side note –
$eeker is a neutered male, and it was the right choice for him (not his choice of course, ours).
My Story is an intact male. He is hands down the nicest dog I have ever owned, socially, emotionally and physically. Because of the testosterone he is built like a brick shit house, one of the secondary sexual characteristics is increased muscle mass. He is an amazing worker and competitor, but I have to manage him heavily when we have down time around other dogs, he wants to have sex. I’m pretty upfront about it, and honest with his desires, much to the blushed cheek owners embarrassment, who weren’t prepared for a sex talk when they let their cute dog run up to Story to say Hi!
Every dog, and every choice you make for their health and sexuality is individual. Please be informed, please have conversations with professionals that are partners in your dogs health care, and decide how MUCH dog you are willing to live with.
originally posted 2/26/2012