the Male Dog

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 come into sexual maturity between 6-12 months of age, right in the heart of adolescence, their second sub fear stage, the flight stage, and the setting of the teeth stage. It kind of piles on all at one time.

From 6-14 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, it is kind of like they are wearing a giant blinking orange light on their head to signal the adult world that a young thug is on the rise. 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 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?

For the past decade or so 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 these studies are beneficial, and all dog  owners should read them, 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 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 was an intact male his entire life, until his death at 15 years of age. He was hands down the nicest dog I have ever owned, socially, emotionally and physically. Because of the testosterone he was built like a brick shit house, one of the secondary sexual characteristics is increased muscle mass. He was an amazing worker and competitor, but I had to manage him heavily when we had down time around other dogs, he was driven by hormones. He never had an ache, pain, or ill health, and he died a naturally under his own terms. There is something to be said for the whole dog.

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.

Have fun,

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Lisa says:

    What an outstanding article Nancy.

    Ghost and Story are very much alike….super temperament, brilliant worker and built superbly well.
    Only 2 days ago, I noticed that Ghost had been tip toeing up to Cass with a leaf in his mouth. Given that he is always full on in play, I decided to go inside and observe from the kitchen window.Now Cass is neutered, but as you said, it matters not to Ghost (AKA Don Juan)
    And so he would nuzzle her with his leaf, she would stand aloof, he would nuzzle again, this time she tugs back and the very soft tuggy game begins. And then, as a smile came on both of their faces, he launched in to action !
    I quietly said from the window, ” What are you doing man ?”. They both grinned ( seriously they did) and went and lay down next to each other, not embarrassed but rather ” we’ll have to wait until later “.

    Ghost is on 24/7 and he’s always got a bunch of red roses and a box of chocolates ready to court a lady !


    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      😉 we’ll have to get your Don Juan and my Romeo photos together and make a calendar for the female border collie world… that would be fun!

      That is so sweet that he is so kind with Cass… she seems a bit flirty!

      1. Lisa says:

        Oh for sure ! I think it would sell big time. !

        You nailed it…Cass is a flirt BUT she won’t have anything to do with non family guys. She’s very particular.
        At a trial in the vetting queue, a male kept looking up under her skirt. She was looking back at him totally unimpressed with his advances.
        I guess too that the owner of that male should probably be reading this blog !

        I loved the way Ghost was so gentle too…says a lot about his nature.

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