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Do Dogs Have Sex for Pleasure? Vet Approved Facts

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By Misty Layne

dog sniffing dog in heat

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Sex can be an important part of the human experience, but how important is it to our animal companions? If you have a dog, you’ve likely seen them mount and hump something (whether the canine was male or female). And if you have more than one dog who isn’t fixed, you might’ve seen two of them getting together during mating season. 

But do dogs have sex for pleasure, or are they merely following the instinct to mate for reproduction? Do dogs enjoy sex? Do they feel pleasure when they mate? 

There is no clear answer to whether dogs have sex for pleasure. Some researchers think they do, while others do not. As far as we know, dogs have sex only when females go into heat, so it seems they are having sex to satisfy the instinct to breed. More research needs to be done in order to make this answer more clear.

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Do Dogs Experience Pleasure During Sex?

Whether dogs experience pleasure during sex varies depending on who you ask. For example, veterinarian Patty Khuly says, “Dogs and cats are not like people when it comes to sex1. They don’t cycle the same way, and there’s no evidence, behaviorally or otherwise, that sexual activity brings them any specific pleasure akin to orgasm, for example.” But look elsewhere, and you’ll find other theories. 

Some researchers believe that male dogs can experience pleasure from having sex. After all, during the mating process, male dogs often ejaculate. The question then is whether this is an orgasm as we understand it (i.e., is it a pleasurable experience), or does it simply occur without the dog feeling much of anything?

And when it comes to female dogs, whether they experience an orgasm or pleasure during the act of sex is hotly debated. But as of now, it seems no research has been done, so the assumption is that female dogs do not experience pleasure during sex. 

Cute chihuahua dog making love
Photo Credit: Chaisit Rattanachusri, Shutterstock

Dogs, Mounting, and Masturbation

If dogs are most likely only having sex to satisfy reproductive urges, why do they mount people, animals, and things and masturbate? There are many reasons dogs masturbate, and yes, one of those reasons is to satisfy sexual needs, which would indicate that dogs feel pleasure during sexual acts. But dog masturbation can be done for other reasons, too. 

Another reason a dog may masturbate is because they are exhibiting play behavior. You’ll see one dog mount another, but in this context, there’s nothing sexual about the behavior. It’s simply a form of play between puppy pals. However, some canines that haven’t been properly socialized may take things too far and mount other dogs because they are overstimulated. 

A dog may also mount an animal or person as a display of dominance. When this occurs, the dog is displaying their social status or rank in the hierarchy by literally being on top. Dogs may have an erection when they do this, but they won’t typically ejaculate. 

Dogs sometimes also mount and hump things due to excitement or stress. Dogs meeting people for the first time may be overly excited and end up humping the person, their owner, or even a nearby toy or blanket. Or they may turn to humping as a repetitive action that can help calm them down in times of stress.

And some canines may be compulsive masturbators. It may seem odd that a dog could have a compulsive disorder, but it can happen and sometimes that compulsion is to masturbate. This could be a reaction to stress and, if not addressed, could interfere with a dog’s daily life and normal functioning. 

Finally, dogs may mount things and masturbate due to health issues. If you see your dog mounting items more than usual, licking at their genitals, or rubbing against things, it may be due to a medical problem. In this case, you should take your dog to the vet for a check-up. 

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Final Thoughts

So, do dogs have sex for pleasure? It seems that, for the most part, dogs have sex to satisfy the instinct to reproduce. However, they may or may not experience pleasure during sex. Some people believe they do, while others believe only males experience pleasure while copulating. But it’s impossible to know for sure, as canines do not experience things as we do and more research will need to be done to definitively decide.

However, dogs are also known to masturbate, so it seems some sort of pleasure may be derived from sexual activities (or at least certain activities), whether that’s pleasure as we understand it or not. But a dog may also mount and masturbate for reasons other than sexual pleasure, so it’s difficult to stay. It seems as if the jury’s still out on canines and sex! 

Featured Photo Credit: atiger, Shutterstock

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Authored by

Misty Layne lives out in the woods in small-town Alabama with her two Siamese—Serafina and Jasper. She also has an array of stray cats, raccoons, and possums who like to call her front porch home. When she’s not writing about animals, you’ll find her writing poetry, stories, and film reviews (the animals are, by far, her favorite writing topic, though!). In her free time, Misty enjoys chilling with her cats, playing...Read more

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