Can dogs be gay?

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Watching your pet dog getting extra-friendly with another pup of the same sex has led many an owner to ask the question – is my dog gay?

It’s a straightforward question, but the answer isn’t entirely simple.

Do dogs have gay sex?

Any dog owner will be well aware that male and female dogs will happily mount other dogs of the same sex. You can hardly stop puppies humping anything they happen across – littermates of both sexes, playmates, your leg, and your newly-bought sofa. And that’s just when they’re taking time out from licking themselves.

Some dog experts think this rubbing-happy behaviour is “practice” for when they’re old enough to have sex. Some say it’s to assert their social status, because they’re happy, because they’re stressed, or because they just want a play.

A dog at Pride in Cyprus

Some suggest it’s just that – hey – it feels good. Even after they’re neutered or spayed, many dogs will continue to hump things and mount other animals. If they’re engaging sexually with another dog of the same sex for pleasure, it seems fair enough to describe that from our human vantage point as gay sex.

But does that mean my dog is gay?

Sexual or not, does any of this behaviour mean that dogs can actually be gay?

For people, “being gay” certainly isn’t as simple as “having gay sex”.

As a sexual orientation, homosexuality has emotional and romantic facets, too. It can also be part of a person’s individual and community identity.

Most of us see ourselves as more than just a collection of our behaviours. Our sense of identity is bound up in how we feel and what we think. And while self-knowledge and honesty aren’t always absolute, the easiest way to find out if a person is gay is to just ask them.

With their bigger brains, people are more complicated than dogs. Do animals feel those sorts of feelings? Can a dog be self-aware? It’s an open question. They don’t seem to recognise themselves in a mirror but have better luck using their sniffing powers to spot their own scent.

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