It sounds weird, but sometimes we joke that male dogs need to come with an owner’s manual. There are weird things that often surprise, confuse, and even panic people! Here’s the top 5 facts every owner of a boy dog should know.
1 – Smegma
It’s a great scrabble word. And it results in one unnecessary emergency visit per year for me. Smegma is a normal greenish discharge that can accumulate on the tip of the penis (actually, the skin covering it, called the prepuce). Some dogs have more than others – I seem to see more in non-neutered boys, but this is not a scientific observation. Some dogs are more smegma-y than others. It’s greenish, but it’s not an infection. However, if your boy dog is suddenly licking obsessively and seems uncomfortable, then there could be something wrong and it’s worth getting checked out. Otherwise, the greenish goo on the tip of the prepuce is normal.
2 – Nipples
Human men have them. Why do people think boy dogs can’t have them? They typically have about 8, but some dogs miss one or two. They may be pigmented depending on the coloring of your dog. They are not ticks, so please don’t pull on them! They are also not tumors. Can dogs get skin tumors on an area where a nipple would be? Or course, so any weird lumps, have checked by your vet. But normal, symmetrical nipples are very normal, so please leave them alone.
3 – Bulbospongiosis
This is a muscle that lines the penis (the inside part, not the skin covering, which is the prepuce). When a boy dog gets stimulated, it can sometimes appear as a pair of “balls” at the base of the penis (under the skin). In some dogs this is very pronounced, while it’s subtle in others. I’ve had people see this and call me asking if their dog was neutered, if the testicles could grow back. Nope, once those suckers are gone, they are gone! Yet, this unique piece of anatomy can throw some pet owners for a loop – it can look VERY weird!
4 – Humping
People often associate humping behavior with sexual urges, but this isn’t always the case with dogs. Many neutered boys hump objects, each other, humans, whatever. It can be a way to initiate play, a sign of anxiety, an OCD type of behavior, and in some dogs, can indicate sexual arousal. One myth is that humping is used to exert dominance, although the “alpha male” myth has been discredited in the past 30 years. So a boy who likes to hump usually needs something else to do to get his mind off it.
5 – Paraphimosis
Another great word! This is not normal, but a medical problem similar to the Viagra commercial “if you experience an erection lasting longer than four hours….” Some boys (usually not neutered, but I have seen in neutered boys too) get very excited and overstimulated. The penis comes out of the prepuce (I’ve heard it called the “lipstick” or the “red rocket” in case your friends mention it) and stays out. That bulbospongiosis muscle becomes extruded from the prepuce… and it can’t go back in! We now have this big, swollen penis that is too big to fit back into the skin that keeps it safe, like a square peg in a round hole. It can dry out and become a very serious medical emergency! Your veterinarian will have to sedate your dog and apply some medications to shrink it and gradually massage it back into its sheath. Not how any of us enjoy spending a half hour, that’s for sure!
So, there are the 5 things in the manual that should come with every boy dog, and some fun new words as well!