Behaviors of Intact Male Dogs

Intact male dogs may be more likely to display behaviors linked to hormones.

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That cute male puppy may appear adorable upon seeing him for the first time. However, once adopted, puppy hood lasts only a fraction of a dog's life, and sooner than later that cute puppy will turn out being a teenager with full blown testosterone dictating various unwanted behaviors.

Indeed, dog adolescence may not be a walk in the park, it is somehow similar to dealing with human teen agers. Perhaps this is why according to PetSyle most dogs are surrendered to shelters between the ages of 8 months through 18 months. However, for those that are able to hold on to those adolescent dog unwanted behaviors, they will eventually see the light after tunnel, once their dog will settle down and turn adult. Yet, they may still will have to deal with hormones should they fail to neuter their dogs.

Male dogs reach sexual maturity when they reach their adolescence stage. Owners who chose to not neuter their dogs, therefore, may have to deal with the rebellious teenager stage with the effects of hormones on top of that. This article applies in particular to behaviors of some intact male dogs. Of course, they don't apply to all intact male dogs.

  • Marking Behavior

In the wild, as a pack of wolves migrate from one place to another as they look for food, some male wolves may be seen urinating on bushes, trees or rocks. The wolves will lift their leg and dribble a bit of urine. This is pure marking behavior. Domesticated dogs have conserved part of this instinct. A male dog may walk to an area, sniff it, lift its leg and mark it to leave "I was here" message.

Curiously, according to the book Genetics and Social Behavior of the Dog, often dogs that live in a pen rarely frequented by other animals, will not engage in this activity and may still squat as they did as when they were puppies. The main trigger which entices the dog to lift the leg and mark, therefore appears to be the smell of another dog's urine.

Some male dogs may also defecate as a way to mark behavior, and after doing so, they may scratch the dirt nearby. This is not to cover up the feces, rather it is to mark it further adding a visual cue, that he was there.

  • Roaming Behavior

An intact male dog has an instinct to roam around. They feel the pressure to mark around the neighborhood. This behavior especially exacerbates if there is a female in heat nearby. Dogs may recognize the scent of a female in heat from several feet away, they may therefore stick around the area for many hours or days. Sometimes if there are competitor dogs nearby, they may even engage into bloody fights. If you must own an intact dog, make sure your dog is safely confined (yet this applies to any dogs)

  • Mounting Behavior

While mounting may appear to be mostly a sexual behavior, it is often triggered by other reasons. For more on this read about humping behaviors in dogs. Neutered males, puppies and female dogs may be also seen mounting other dogs, or human legs.

  • Aggressive Behavior

Some intact male dogs may exhibit at times, aggressive behaviors targeted at other male dogs, especially when there is a female in heat. While neutering the dog is not a magic solution, it may sometimes, lower a bit this type of aggression when related to hormones. Aggression manifested towards owners, strangers or other dogs will likely not change especially if there is fear component at play. Aggressive behaviors should always be assessed by a dog behaviorist before deciding whether to neuter or not. For more on this, read Should Male Dogs be Neutered?


Genetics and Social Behavior of the dog by John Paul Scott , John L. Fuller University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (January 1, 1998)

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Comments 6 comments

knell63 profile image

knell63 7 years ago from Umbria, Italy

Hi Alexa, Interesting read. I've got an 11 year old who finally behaves himself. I read a great book by Jan Fennel called Dog Listening, its all about social behaviour and bonding with you pet. That seems to be the important thing and letting them know who is boss.

dr3allday 4 years ago

Hey, I'm sure the following might have been a quote cited by one of the Johns, but it speaks to why I'm bothered by the pressure to alter:

"Male dogs reach sexual maturity when they reach their adolescence stage. Owners that refuse to neuter their dogs, therefore, must deal with the rebellious teen ager stage with the effects of hormones on top of that."

Objectively speaking, owners choose not to neuter. They don't refuse to neuter.

My 1 year old English Mastiff, Hero, might look scary to some, but he's a fine pup with a great, friendly disposition. For health reasons, cost, and my not willing to conform to pressure, I will not alter him. However, here lies the problem (and I would love to see a heavily circulated article written on this), he is a target at public dog spaces because he has his balls. He has been attacked for only that reason- without fighting back. He's an English Mastiff that will get bigger and older, and may not take being attacked lying down as time goes on. Likely I will then become the target. How fair is that?

alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

You are right, I wrote this article probably 4 years ago, when I used to work for a local shelter and we really pushed into the neutering option due to the pet overpopulation problem.Sorry, after you see countless dogs put to sleep you feel like pointing fingers towards those who fail to alter their pets. My newest article on neutering dogs is more open-minded and demonstrates that in some countries such as in Sweden where many owners choose to not alter, responsible ownership is something possible and I love to use them as an example we should follow. Here is my hub:

Laura in Denver profile image

Laura in Denver 4 years ago from Aurora

Thanks. My ex and I got a dog and had him neutered a bit late. Estimated age 9 months, who knows.

He was OK except for the mounting behaviour which was embarrasing to me at the time.

Since then, I have recovered from this perfect persona mentality and would just state what, anywhere and why...

Catherine 3 years ago

I have a 5 year old intact male dog. I had him since he was a puppy. He has NEVER urine marked in my house. He has NEVER mounted me or any other human being or any inanimate object. He is the MOST docile, easygoing, nonaggressive dog I have ever owned. He is exceedingly dog friendly and his best doggy friend is another intact male dog.

Today, he went to the vet to receive routine vaccinations and his vet actually told me that I was wise not to neuter him because current research indicates that intact dogs actually live longer and healthier lives.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Hello Catherine, you are very fortunate to own such a lovely dog. Unfortunately some owners are not that lucky. This article is a head's up for the worse, but I tend to agree about the neutering and you can read more about this in this article:

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