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How to Care for a Male Dog

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A woman prepares for a run with her yellow Labrador Retriever

Whether you're adopting a new best friend or already have a good boy in your life, you may wonder about caring for male dogs. How different can male and female dogs be? Let's dive in and learn the unique aspects of caring for male dogs, from behavioral traits and training to common health issues and neutering.

The Basics of Caring for Male Dogs

Understanding your male dog's needs can help to ensure they have a happy, healthy life by your side. Start with the fundamentals of bringing home a new puppy. Then, consider:

  • Grooming and Hygiene: Grooming sessions are a good opportunity to check your dog's fur for signs of skin issues and infections. Pay close attention to their underbelly and genital areas.
  • Nutrition and Exercise: Male dogs may need higher calorie counts because of greater muscle mass and energy levels. A nutritious diet tailored to their age, breed, and activity level is important. Regular exercise helps channel their energy and maintain physical health.
  • Routine Vet Visits: Establishing consistent veterinary checkups is also important. This helps to track their health and catch any issues early. Your veterinarian may look for signs of prostate problems and ask about any behavioral changes.

Remember, these are general factors to consider. Across dog breeds, ages, and backgrounds, each pet may have varying personalities, health conditions, and other needs.

Behavioral Traits

Male dogs are more likely to display dominant and territorial behaviors. You may notice male dogs urinating in small amounts to "mark" their territory and signal their presence to other dogs.

Some of these behaviors can be beneficial, like alerting pet parents to potential threats. However, this may also lead to excessive barking at friendly visitors or aggressive behavior toward other dogs. Look out for early signs like growling, lunging, snapping at, or biting people and other pets. In these situations, seek help from a training/behavior professional right away. Aggressive and territorial behaviors are natural instincts, but early socialization, obedience training, and a positive home environment can help raise a well-behaved pup and reduce the chances of unwanted aggression.


Neutering is a common procedure that sterilizes male dogs, usually by removing the testes. Appropriate neutering age should be determined by your veterinarian. Some dogs should be spayed sooner than others based on breed and other factors.

Neutering can lead to positive behavioral changes. These may include reduced aggression, mounting, and roaming. These changes are why some may wonder, “Does a male dog's personality change after neutering?” No, neutering will not change your dog's natural personality traits. This procedure can benefit your pet’s health by eliminating the risk of testicular cancer and helping reduce the chances of some prostate problems. It also helps control the overpopulation of stray animals.

Caring for Your Dog After Neutering

While all surgery comes with risk, neutering is a very common procedure. During the surgery, your dog will be under anesthesia. After neutering, you can help manage their discomfort and care for them by:

  • Limiting their activity
  • Keeping the incision dry
  • Protecting the incision area
  • Monitoring their recovery
  • Administering post-operative medication prescribed by your vet

Discuss neutering with your veterinarian for your pet's specific needs post-procedure and any questions you may have.

How to Train a Male Dog

Early training and socialization can help manage dominance and territorial behaviors. With a little work, you'll have a well-adjusted and friendly pup.

Behavior training is an important step to take and an effective way to deal with male dogs who display dominant or territorial behaviors.


Early, positive socialization with a range of dogs, people, and environments is critical for all pups. This is how they learn to confidently and appropriately interact with the world around them. Socialization also helps to prevent some behavioral issues and is especially helpful if an individual dog naturally leans toward dominant or territorial behaviors.

Potty Training for Male Dogs

Establishing a routine is essential for effective potty training. Be consistent with his bathroom breaks and reinforce good habits with praise and treats.

As male dogs mature, potty training may need extra supervision due to their marking tendencies. Start with house training basics like consistent routines and rewarding their progress.

Male Dog Health Problems

Prostate problems are a common issue, especially as male dogs age. Intact (not neutered) dogs may also be at risk for testicular diseases like cancer. Veterinarians identify these issues with physical exams, X-rays, ultrasound, and urine cultures.

Prostate Disease

Common symptoms of prostate problems in male dogs include:

  • Difficulty with bowel movements
  • Abnormal accidents in the house
  • Mood and behavior changes
  • Difficulty walking or stiff movement
  • Signs of abdominal pain
  • Blood or discharge in urine

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is important to contact your veterinarian right away. Treatment may include neutering (if that has not already been done), antibiotics, and associated after-care.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Although they are less common than in female dogs, male dogs do get UTIs Male dogs are less likely to get UTIs than female dogs due to their longer and more narrow urethras, but infections can happen.

Signs include trouble urinating, frequent urinating, indoor accidents, and strong odors. If you suspect your dog has a UTI, don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian and discuss your concerns and observations.

Caring for an Aging Male Dog

Older dogs may slow down with age. They still want to enjoy all the best parts of being a dog, though! Gentle exercise and mental stimulation are important for their quality of life.

Older male dogs may experience lower testosterone levels, resulting in less activity and possible weight gain, and a possible reduction in dominant and territorial behaviors. Increased risk of age-related joint and prostate problems are possible as well. Consider adjusting their diet to suit their slower metabolism and reduced activity. Taking supplements for joint health can also make a difference.

Caring for your male dog is a journey, but with each unique challenge comes the unmatched joy of pet parenting. Cherish every moment with your loyal friend.

Pet Insurance for Male Dogs

One way to provide your pup with the best possible care is with a quality pet insurance plan for dogs. It's an important step for maintaining their health at every stage of life. Plans can help cover common treatments for male dogs, including neutering and other preventive care by adding preventative care coverage to your plan.

An ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

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