Why Do Small Dogs Mark Their Territory So Much?

For dogs, walks are far more than just a trip out. They’re a vital aspect of their social life, helping them to keep in contact with their puppy pals and stay in the loop with what’s going on.

They get particularly excited at the prospect of heading out, but why?

Small dogs have a habit of peeing excessively while they’re out, but why is it that they’re so preoccupied with making their territory?

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For dogs, urinating is far more than a basic function – it’s a key mode of communication, allowing them to assert their position within the neighbourhood.

Whilst it’s logical that they have control over the information that they pass, a recent study published in the ‘Journal of Zoology’ suggests otherwise.

To investigate the relationship between dog size and peeing habits, researchers visited two animal shelters and sampled an assortment of juvenile and senior male dogs. After recording them out on walks, they found that smaller dogs peed at higher angles than big dogs, going out of their way to leave a mark and assert their dominance.

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Speaking of the research, Betty McGuire told New Scientist:

“Small males seemed to make an extra effort to raise their leg high—some small males would almost topple over.

[Bigger dogs appeared to] ‘cheat’ by increasing their raised-leg angles to deposit higher urine marks, thereby exaggerating their size.”

According to researchers, there are several explanations for the peeing habits of smaller dogs. Seeing as it conveys an array of information, including sex, age and reproductive status, when entering unfamiliar territories smaller dogs may seek to look bigger than they actually are by aiming higher than their natural level.

Another explanation could be that they aim higher to ‘over mark’ or cover the scent of other dogs, although the study didn’t particularly accommodate such a theory.

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So, there you have it – small dogs make a point of peeing when out on walks to mark their territory and appear more dominant than their size suggests. Smart.

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