When your male dog humping legs, sofas, chair legs, or other pups down at the park - what does it mean? And does being a male or a female dog have anything to do with what and where your dog likes to hump?
The simple fact is that as humans, and as loving dog owners, we are all guilty of reflecting human thoughts and emotions onto our pets. We speak to them, we think we know when they are sad, and we can definitely tell when they are happy. But can dogs really be gay?
In this article, we uncover the truth about your dog’s sexual orientation, look at whether or not a dog can emotionally be classed as gay, and share some fun and bizarre facts about dog behavior. We also look at what different behaviors mean in dogs. Many dogs will exhibit a whole range of behaviors we don't fully understand. Especially older dogs or a puppy from the shelter as they will have experienced so much throughout their lives.
In terms of how sexuality can restrain certain relationships, gay as we recognise it is certainly a human behavioral trait that is rarely reflected in the behavior of dogs. They exhibit behaviors for a variety of reasons that are difficult to us humans. Because dogs live with us and display so many of the emotions that we think we recognise from our own actions and reactions, it follows that we try and put an ever-increasing number of our own personal traits onto our dogs - which can result in dog owners believing their dog to be gay due to its behavior and the way it responds to other dogs but this does not make your pet a homosexual animal. There is a natural diversity in the sexuality of of our pets, it is the same for dog behavior too.
The crucial thing to recognise with dogs is that their sexual behavior and activity is not defined in the same way that ours is. There is no evidence that suggests that dogs are turned on or off by specific traits - rather, what they like or do not like is dictated only by how they feel in the moment. We only see our dogs interact with other dogs for a few hours a day max. No one spends all day at the dog park analyzing behavior.
In short, dogs do not understand or possess the same sexual orientation or understanding that humans do regarding the sex of different individuals - and so it is not technically possible for them to be emotionally gay in the same way that humans are.
So, why is it that dogs are so keen to make sexual advances on any and every thing around them - and what does it mean when they hump an animal of the same sex?
If you own a dog, you will know that humping is not restricted merely to other dogs - it can create victims out of furniture, human legs, stuffed toys, and all manner of other items and objects. And it is this which gives away one of the most defining features of dog humping - your dog is not explicitly humping things for sexual reasons. Humping is also a result of a series of other emotions and reactions - including for play and to dictate anxiety or nervousness. Bisexuality is not often talked about within dogs.
As dogs do not talk in the same way that humans do, it follows that their emotions and thoughts must be expressed in different ways - humping in dogs is not always a sexual behavior. We all know that when your dog wags his or her tail, that he or she is happy - when they put their head down, they are ashamed or nervous. Humping is much the same and forms a healthy type of play that dogs engage in together as a way of making friends.
And that’s not all. Here are some of the other reasons why your dog might hump another dog, regardless of its sex or sexual orientation.
Dominance over Peers: Humping another male dog is not necessarily a sign of homosexual behavior. Dominance can be another reason, as in some dogs it can indicate an unwillingness to socialise effectively with other dogs. When a dog humps other, often smaller or younger dogs, as an act of dominance, it can seem alarming both to you and to the owner of the other dog. However, this kind of behaviour can be toned down with training from a young age, and an effort to encourage your dog to socialise with other dogs from a puppy.
Non-Neutered Behavior: If your pooch has not been neutered, the urge to hump other dogs for sexual reasons is stronger - as they have not had that urge to reproduce suppressed. Getting your dog neutered from a young age will help to ensure you don’t end up with unwanted puppies or a pregnant dog next door a few year months or years down the line!
Casual Play: The most common reason for humping is casual play, with dogs not learning or being taught the same social boundaries as humans and thus seeing humping as a normal sign of playtime activity.
With so many different motivations behind the humping behavior expressed by dogs of all ages, to other dogs of both sexes in particular, it is impossible to draw a conclusion about definitive sexual orientation among dogs. It is also worth noting that some of the recommended actions, such as getting a male dog neutered, can be responsible for decreasing the sex hormones which naturally occur in that dog - and so can confuse their thinking regarding sexual activity and can leave them unsure of what their preferred ‘sex’ is when intact.
So, what can we deduce from this behavior and is there any other way of describing what we view to be homosexual activity in dogs?
It’s not just dogs that this argument applies to - conversation around homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom has long been an interesting and well documented concept and is something we will come back to later in this article.
But first, back to dogs.
The behavior of a dog and their internal sexual orientation is not necessarily the same. The same can be said of humans, who act against their feelings and succumb to unexpected urges - what we do and what we want are not always the same.
For example, a dog who has been recognised to be of the homosexual orientation might still engage in sex with a female dog who is on-heat, because of the natural urge to recreate which exists in every animal species. This would imply that the dog is not necessarily gay in its identity, but rather it chooses to engage in homosexual activity on occasion.
There are of course examples of male dogs who do tend to show a definite preference for other male dogs, however it must be considered that this could be purely circumstance, for example if the dog only ever spends time around other dogs of the same sex. In short, it is not necessarily sexual orientation which is directing the dog’s sexual activity - rather, it comes down to behavior and the circumstance that dog finds itself in.
Now onto the important bit - does having a potentially gay dog mean you won’t have a chance at breeding from him?
Does being gay matter in the dog world?
In a nutshell, the answer to this is no.
Any distress you feel at having a dog which might be gay is completely down to you and your views on the matter - because in the case of your dog, being gay makes absolutely no difference at all. As we have previously discussed, even a dog who may recognise a preference for dogs of the same sex will likely still engage in sexual activity with dogs of the opposite sex during the right time of the month or when they feel the urge - and this means that if you want puppies, you will probably still get them.
The most important thing to remember is that dogs are creatures of habit - they sleep, they eat, and they get excited when they see other dogs (and sometimes other objects or human legs). They do not possess the same urges and sexual preferences that we have as humans, and they have not been taught the same behavioral do’s and don’ts of society. Being a dog is all about acting on instinct and doing what he or she wants to do in that moment - nothing more, nothing less.
And if you’re genuinely worried about the chances of being able to breed and rise puppies, artificial insemination is very real in the dog world and can be conducted by vets at your request. So, reproduction is on the horizon even if your dog is gay.
Being gay in the Animal World
Dogs, cats, and tons of other species are all similar in that they do not reflect or even understand the emotional context that we put on things like sexuality and sexual orientation. In the animal world, sex is very much a function of reproduction, and those who are able to reproduce are the top of the natural selection chain. Anything more than that all comes from our heads and our own views as humans - after all, our relationships and feelings are far more complex and hold far more weight than those of dogs and other animals.
But that’s not to say we don’t take notice when other animals exhibit signs of homosexual behavior.
To the delight of millions of followers, penguins will often famously exhibit homosexual behavior, with male penguins banding together to raise a chick together.
Similarly, female albatrosses have often been known to join other females in raising their chicks together, and dolphins are no strangers to same-sex activity and behavior deep down in the sea.
So, what makes this different to gay activity between humans?
The lack of emotional context means that these connections in the animal world are often short-lived and do not result in long term partnerships. There are certainly occasions and instances where longer term relationships do appear to evolve - for instance between macaques and bonobo chimps who are closest to us in terms of their genetic makeup. However, for the most part animal connections are fleeting and functional rather than built on a distinct preference for one sex over the other.
‘Can dogs be gay’ is a question on the lips of many dog owners, with some stating that their male (or female) dog expresses no interest in dogs of the opposite sex, while others argue that their own pup has no real preference and will hump anything that moves.
The chances are that those who engage in frequent sexual humping with dogs of both sexes are young and are simply over excited or looking to play. Those who are older may be using humping as a sign of dominance, while there is also the factor of neutering and how this can affect your dogs’ ability to distinguish its own preference for male or female partners.
All in all, whether your dog is gay or not makes little difference in the daily life of your dog - and for most humans, it is their own stigma and emotional response which makes up 99% of their questions. Dogs are not restricted by the same social norms or behavioral understandings that we are, and so gay or not is less of a personal choice and more of a ‘what’s there is there’ type of feeling.
And finally, remember that even if your dog does not show an interest in dogs of the opposite sex, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be used for breeding or reproducing. Vets, like Doctors, are trained in artificial insemination and can help you become a dog mum or dad far more easily than you might think!
Do you think your dog might be gay? We’d love to hear your stories and use your comments to help like-minded owners decide on the sexual orientation of their own dog! Let us know in the comments below! And most importantly, give your pup a cuddle from us.