Myths about male dogs
People are hesitant to adopt male dogs due to several myths, which means that they tend to wait much longer for homes and, in high-intake shelters, may never be adopted. Let’s bust these myths and get more male dogs adopted!
Myth: Male dogs are aggressive and fight with other animals.
Reality: How aggressive or calm, dominant or submissive a dog is depends on their personality, breed, the situation, and how they’re treated and trained. If a dog is already behaving in a problematic way, testosterone can act as an accelerant but it is not the cause of behavioural problems. People also tend to be wary of male dogs as they are usually larger, which means that, if they do bite, it may be more serious. Having male dogs neutered (sterilised) by 6 months makes an enormous difference – it won’t change their personality or make them less of a watch dog but it will reduce their frustration levels, make it easier for you to train and control them, and stop them wanting to run away and look for a mate.
Myth: You can never have two male dogs together.
Reality: We’ve rehomed many same-sex animals and they’re still happy years later. Again, it’s all down to each dog’s nature, how you introduce and integrate them, and whether you exercise and train them or not. As mentioned, neutering them also makes a difference. Some breeds are best with a dog of the opposite sex (usually the ‘power breeds’ and terriers) but there are always exceptions. When adopting an adult dog of any sex, you need to discuss your needs with the welfare staff and introduce the dogs properly.
Myth: Male dogs lift their leg on everything.
Reality: While this can happen, it isn’t the norm and, again, is far more common in unneutered males. Males sterilised early rarely do so, and most unneutered dogs stop once they’ve been sterilised; with proper house training and behavioural management, almost all stop. What many people don’t realise is that female dogs also lift their legs and mark territory – it is less common than in males, but it definitely does happen.
Note that, if a dog is constantly urinating everywhere, this is not normal behaviour. It can be due to poor house training, unmanaged behavioural problems, urinary infections, prostate enlargement, or anxiety, amongst others. If your dog of either sex is peeing all over the place, take them to see a veterinarian. Once you have ruled out physical conditions, you may need to consult with a qualified dog behaviourist.
Myth: Male dogs roam.
Reality: Unneutered male dogs do tend to roam – and it is because they’re looking for a female. But, once neutered, most dogs reduce or stop this behaviour, particularly if they are done by 6 months of age. Your property should be secure anyway because any sex of dog can get out and be injured or stolen.
Myth: Male dogs are dominant.
Reality: Again, this is all about the individual dog. We’ve come across some highly dominant female dogs and many very submissive males.
Myth: Male dogs hump people/pillows/furniture/other dogs.
Reality: Both males and females do this but an unneutered male dog is more likely to ‘hump’ people because he is frustrated and doesn’t know how to direct his natural behaviour associated with surging testosterone. If allowed to continue, it becomes a habit so it’s important to train them not to and this will be easier if they’re neutered.
Many of these myths stem from a time before routine neutering of dogs, and when dogs were often not ‘part of the family’ but lived as outside animals.
Sterilising them early makes an enormous difference in ease of training, reduction in ‘nuisance behaviour’, curbing a tendency to run off, reducing competitive behaviour, etc.
The bottom line is that each animal is different, with its own personality, likes, dislikes, and needs. Being a responsible owner, providing enough exercise and training, and the right kind of affection will ensure that your male dog is no less a pleasure to have around than a female one.
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