Male dogs don’t actually go into heat. However, they are certainly responsive when female dogs go into heat. Much like males of any species, including (especially?) humans, male dog in heat behavior can be erratic and spontaneous.
In this article, we’ll explain how male dog behavior can change when female dogs are in heat. We’ll also clear up some misconceptions about male dogs going into heat.
Do Male and Female Dogs Both Go Into Heat?
So, the first thing you should know is that male dogs don’t actually go into heat. The term ‘in heat’ just refers to female dogs, specifically when their hormones are active and they’re eager to get frisky.
Male dogs, on the other hand, are ready to get frisky any time. As soon as most male dogs reach sexual maturity (about six months in age) they’re ready to reproduce.
Female dogs reach maturity at about the same age. Of course, just like humans, you can give or take a few months – or, in some cases, years. Bigger dog breeds tend to mature more slowly and some females won’t go into heat until they’re up to two years old.
Changes to Male Dog in Heat Behavior
Even though your male dog might not go into heat, they’re highly receptive to females when they’re in heat.
You’ve almost certainly seen dogs running around sniffing the butts of other dogs. They’re doing this because they’re seeking out pheromones, which are hormones released that indicate sexual fertility. Most animals are hard-wired to respond to pheromones.
The particular pheromone, in this case, is known as methyl p-hydroxybenzoate. When dogs detect this pheromone they become more sexually engaged. The pheromone is so strong that researchers revealed that male dogs responded sexually to female dogs who were sprayed with the hormone even if they weren’t in heat.
That said, there are a few telltale signs that your male dog is responding to a female’s pheromones.
- Your dog is frequently following females around and sniffing their behinds. (This is where the term chasing tail came from).
- Your dog is frequently mounting or ‘humping’ things, ranging from inanimate objects to your leg to other dogs
- Physical changes to your dog’s anatomy (erections, secretions, etc.)
These behaviors can occur even when there are no female dogs around. Pheromones can travel a long distance and dogs can even pick up on pheromones produced by a female dog as far as 5 miles away!
You may also notice your dog sniffing the ground in a manner different than usual. Male dogs are highly attracted to the smell of pheromones which can remain in urine. They may attempt to track the odor trail of a female by following their urine.
When a female is in heat, this affects not only their behavior but males, as well. Any male dogs in the vicinity will also respond! Spaying your female dog can prevent this, but you should be aware that this will also cause a bunch of changes in behavior.
In either case, tit’s a good idea to be prepared- especially since you don’t really have a chance to train your dog on how to approach sexual maturity. That’s something they have to figure out on their own!