Is there anything wrong with a butch bitch... and other peepee questions
November 26, 2008 9:25 AM   Subscribe

My girl lifts her leg to pee sometimes, she also "marks". Does we haz a problem? My inclination is "no" ... but my vet seems unsettled about it.

We've had our wonderful, adorable rescue dog for six months (age unknown, but definitely fully adult between 2-5 years old). After she had been with us for about three or four months, instead of just peeing once in a big stream per walk, she seems to have started "marking"... she sniffs out where other dogs in the neighborhood have peed and pees over that, usually two or three times during a walk.

In the past month or so, she has also started to occasionally lift her leg to pee on a tree, tire or other vertical object where another (presumably male) dog has peed.

I'm not inclined to be worried about that... yet, she does at this point have a urinary tract infection, which is being treated. My questions are these:

How unusual is it for a female dog to mark and lift her leg to pee? I mean, should I always worry that this behavior might mean that she has a urinary tract disturbance of some kind, or is it possible that she has this non-typical (for other female dogs) peeing behavior, plus a urinary tract infection right now, but these two things aren't necessarily related?

Can it be that "saving" her urine for marking is what is causing the infection? In other words, she doesn't fully empty her bladder because she is rationing it out along the walk, and maybe by the end of the walk she hasn't expelled it all?

My Vet seems worried by the marking and lifting-leg thing, but I'm not convinced that it's a big deal. I will watch to see if any of that behavior changes after she gets a complete clean bill of health after the antibiotics and special diet to cure the UTI, but I think she's just become more dominant, and is displaying more of her real personality now that she's all settled and feeling secure. I see it also in her interactions with other dogs; she is much more confident and assertive.

One thing to note is that I don't live in the U.S., and vets here tend to be bit more old fashioned about things, which may or may not be relevant.

about the UTI: I don't know why. She has fresh water in two clean bowls, refreshed daily; we have at least two walks a day, but beyond that she always has access to an outside area where she knows she can pee or poo if she needs to. She has a great home-cooked, fresh food diet. She's totally healthy, happy, energetic and beautiful - even now, when we know she has an infection. The only thing that made me realize that she needed to be checked was that she peed inside one day, right in front of me, which was totally out of character - and since there had been no upset, disturbance or unusual activity in the house or our schedule, I figured she might have a UTI, and I was right.
posted by taz to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How unusual is it for a female dog to mark and lift her leg to pee?

It cant be that unusual. I had a female dog that did this too. I thought it was funny. No UTI that I can remember.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:30 AM on November 26, 2008

My female dog pees on anything and everything any other dog has peed on during our walk around the neighborhood, so in my experience, it's normal. And she'll sometimes lift her leg to avoid getting pee on her foot. I think that's pretty clever.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:31 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Another butch bitch here. She always marks along the way on walks, and typically lifts her leg to do so.
posted by wg at 9:35 AM on November 26, 2008

All the girl dogs I know mark as enthusiastically as their brothers. It's pee-mail, after all - you gotta keep up with the neighborhood gossip! The lifting leg thing is a little less common but the only way it would make me worry would be if she was trying out a whole lot of different ways to pee. That might mean that it hurts to pee and she's thinking that it might not in a different position; sometimes dogs (and cats) with UTIs will try going somewhere new (usually on your bed or something) on the theory that if it hurts to pee outside, perhaps it won't hurt inside.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2008

My girl-boxer always at least lifts a foot slightly, and will do crazy balancing tricks to pee on anything new-smelling I bring into the yard (a garden hose, a piece of lumber). My girl-beagleX is a low-squatter. It just depends on the dog.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:53 AM on November 26, 2008

Our female chiweenie does this. She pees a million times each walk, often lifting one leg. She even tries to pee when her bladder is empty. I always assumed it was because she was spayed late (> 3 years old). She is perfectly healthy and happy.
posted by gnutron at 10:06 AM on November 26, 2008

Lifting the leg is a learned behavior for dogs: males don't start doing it until they see another dog do it. Some never learn to.

Female dogs tend not to lift the leg because they end up splashing themselves, but your butch bitch either doesn't care or is very precise.
posted by svolix at 10:18 AM on November 26, 2008

My female dog marks and lifts a leg slightly. My male dog occasionally squats. His best friend (a male dog) squats exclusively. I think this is all because I read "Free to Be You and Me" to them when they were puppies.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:19 AM on November 26, 2008 [4 favorites]

My female dog marks as well. I half wonder about lifting the leg - is it always the same leg? If so, it very slightly might indicate a leg or hip problem.
posted by rainbaby at 10:20 AM on November 26, 2008

The last time I had dogs, the girl dog peed like a boy and the boy dog peed like a girl. They were perfectly healthy, if a bit goofy!
posted by chez shoes at 10:23 AM on November 26, 2008

One of my three female dogs (all mutts) does this. She doesn't lift her leg but she definitely marks. She sometimes does the "I just marked here!" shuffle/feet wiping after she does it. I simply accept it as her way of doing things. My youngest dog squats to pee, begins peeing, gets about 1/2 - 2/3 of the way done, stands up and--still peeing--walks around in a circle to smell the spot where she just peed. She leaves very interesting yellow snow marks in the winter.
posted by hecho de la basura at 10:25 AM on November 26, 2008

Ditto chez shoes. The boy squats, the girl lifts her leg. Dachshund and Chihuahua, respectively.
posted by alpha_betty at 11:33 AM on November 26, 2008

I actually have a friend that did her master's research on the variety of positions female dogs take while urinating. Leg lifting, while rarer than squatting, is actually quite common in female dogs.

One of her dogs this routine of a squat followed by a leg lift which then was finished off with headstand. Now that was unique!
posted by a22lamia at 12:07 PM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

My lady greyhound loves to pee anywhere else any other dog has peed - she'll pee 7-8 times over the course of a 15 minute walk. If that's not "marking," I don't know what is. She also lifts her leg every once and a while, but that's generally only if she's trying to pee on a mailbox, lightpole, or whatever, and she can't manage to aim her pee at the desired spot without getting so close that her body won't fit without lifting the leg.

I have to say, I never thought that I'd be talking about how my dog pees on the internet.
posted by god hates math at 12:15 PM on November 26, 2008

Best answer: I wouldn't worry about her marking as long as she's doing it outside. Lulu (female) is almost as bad about marking as Binky (male) is.

As to her hiking her leg - maybe this is related to the UTI (hurts less when she hikes her leg?) OR maybe it's not. Could just be curious dog behavior.

You might want to make sure her fur is clipped close around her pee parts. Maybe she's just trying to avoid getting wee on herself. (Was she doing this before you got her groomed the first time?) I remember she got a drastic haircut when you first got her.

It may also be that she's trying to get closer to the thing she wants to mark like god hates math said.

As long as she seems happy - I wouldn't overthink her peeing behavior. She sent you a very clear message by going in front of you to tip you off to the UTI so I wouldn't necessarily think the marking/hiking of leg is anything other than her being her. Some animals are just prone to UTIs no matter how well they eat or are taken care of.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 3:28 PM on November 26, 2008

a22lamia, my little girl dog finishes off with a handstand, just like you describe. She especially likes to do this on trees, where she can get her back end high enough to mark like a boy. She gets surprised and impressed looks once in a while from passers-by.

And to the original poster, here's another vote for totally normal behavior. Besides the handstand, my girl dog pees multiple times during our walks, and always has.
posted by pitseleh at 3:54 PM on November 26, 2008

Best answer: Marking and leg lifting in a female dog are not unusual at all, but I would discuss it further with your vet to suss out what the concern might be. Some of what you think is marking may actually be just increased urinary frequency due to the UTI (in other words, she's not actually "saving up" and making the UTI worse, the UTI is making it hard for her to empty her bladder completely and/or making her feel like she has to go whether she has any in the tank or not). Most dogs have one big pee and then a series of lesser ones on a walk, and dogs will "mark" whether you actually see any urine come out or not.

Female dogs tend to be prone to UTIs, it's how they're built, and some are way more prone than others, it likely has nothing whatsoever to do with your management of her.

More info here.
posted by biscotti at 5:41 PM on November 26, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the info, everyone! So it seems like marking is really not unusual at all in females, and even leg-hiking isn't rare. Interesting.

I'm going to be watching to see if this changes at all once we're sure there's no more infection (and I'll comment back here if there is change, for the benefit of others who might have similar questions).

Rainbaby... good question. She's hiked both legs as I remember (about 90% sure), but that a good thing to take note of.

Fluffy battle kitten, I think you may be on to something... I was thinking about this last night: we didn't have her groomed again since the first big, drastic cut, and we wanted to wait until after winter, so she could have her longer coat during the cold(er) season - but we had her groomed last week after all, because we were beginning to see little mats forming in the extremely fine-furred and hard to reach areas, like under her legs in the "armpit" (legpit?) areas - so it had become pretty long. More long hair = more nice places for bacteria to hang out, I imagine. And the infection began before the trim, so they could be related. We have an electric trimmer now, and will keep her butt area and lady bits tidy.

Biscotti, thanks for that link! That's a great site, and looks like a treasure trove of for all kinds of info.

I'm marking fbk and biscotti for best answers since they both helped me with a couple of specific things, but all of you really gave best answers, since now I know there's a sisterhood of the butchy bitch peepeegirls. I'll post an update after all the treatment is over (she has four more days of antibiotics) and we've had another urine culture (a week or so after the course is finished).
posted by taz at 1:57 AM on November 27, 2008

« Older Onomatopoeia x   |   Where did my other 200 GB go? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.