Dogs have a very different way of communicating information compared to ours as most of said communication happens through their scent of smell and taste.
However, sometimes that “communication” can take a weird turn, like your German Shepherd licking another dog’s pee, but is it weird and wrong to do so?
In their mind, no, and most of the time it isn’t, but there are a few dangers to be wary of, particularly potential infections and the odd sick tummy for your GSD.
However, that much is obvious to most pet parents, but why they do it isn’t, so let’s take a more in-depth look into it.
Why Does Your German Shepherd Lick Another Dog’s Pee?
One reason, it helps the GSD keep up to date with local dogs and other animals.
When your dog stops to sniff and pee at every tree you pass by, it’s not just to mark his territory, but to both pick up information on other animal life that passed by and to leave his own info.
In more crude terms, it’s like leaving a business card, or, more accurately, updating his social media status.
Though, he’s not just leaving pictures of his food, but rather information for the sense of smell and taste, his pheromones.
For, you see, dog’s have an incredibly advanced sense of smell and taste which allows them to discern a lot more than us humans do with our own.
For comparison, they have well over 100-200 million olfactory receptors while we only have a mere 6.
This allows them to register shifts in mood based on the presence of various hormones, detecting whether a potential mate is in heat or if a rival is in his vicinity.
It also helps them detect how healthy and compatible said dog is to become said mate.
In terms of other animals, it would help them suss out prey, though that’s a conversation for another time.
Though, sometimes, the sense of smell isn’t enough and he even gives it a bit of a taste.
The end goal is the same, he’s just trying to double-check the information to compare.
It may seem revolting to us, but it’s a pretty natural process for dogs, particularly guard dogs who seek to protect their territory and their family from potential threats.
How Is He Getting Information Out Of Urine Exactly?
We already know the full information that the GSD is receiving from it, but there are particular things that he’s trying to detect, namely:
- Pheromones to detect the dog’s emotional state
- The presence of bacteria to scan for any potential illnesses or similar
- Sugar levels to further measure the other dog’s health and dietary patterns
- Uric acid for a similar reason
Is It Okay For My German Shepherd To Lick Pee From Random Dogs?
Well, while it is fine, personally, as I like not taking risks, especially when my pooch comes into question, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Sure, it’s completely natural behavior, but sniffing should provide him with enough information.
The reason why I mention this is that parasites and specific bacteria can sometimes be found in the urine that can then transfer to your own dog.
And believe me, the parasites can be a real bother.
Sure, they’re relatively easy to treat and the removal process has become routine for almost every vet, but they’ll still make your pooch suffer, particularly if he’s still a young pup.
And as for the bacteria in question, I’m talking about the Leptospira bacteria which can cause Leptospirosis in your Sheppie.
While dogs are normally vaccinated against this every year, they still don’t completely remove the chance of infection, and the damage this one can do in particular is debilitating.
Potential kidney and liver damage, to name a few, all neatly wrapped in a package of violent diarrhea, blood and vomit.
Thankfully it’s easy to spot with the signs indicated above as well as:
- Muscle shivers
- More frequent urination
If treated early, there’s still a good chance your German Shepherd will make a full recovery.
However, his liver and kidney may still end up sustaining some irreparable damage which will cause problems down the line.
Do note that this disease can be passed on to humans too, so you’ll need to be extra careful when handling him if he’s showing signs of infection.
You don’t want any of his bodily fluids to land on an open wound or in an orifice, believe me.
This is the main reason why I don’t let my own dogs taste another dog’s urine, as I want to protect both them, me, and the rest of my family from a debilitating disease.
Okay, So How Can I Stop My German Shepherd From Licking Another Dog’s Pee?
While it is a natural instinct, the best method of stopping him from doing it is to teach him not to during behavioral training.
If you can’t do it on your own, it’s always good to hire a professional trainer to assist you.
The simplest way of going about it is to develop a command that’ll signal to him that going for a pee lick is bad, just make sure it’s simple and concise.
Other than that, you can simply lead him away from the pee if he tries to go for it, showing him that it’s something you don’t allow and he’ll figure it out after a few repetitions.
Just don’t punish him in any particular way as positive reinforcement is still the way to go when training German Shepherds.
When your German Shepherd licks another dog’s pee, it may appear as unusual and disgusting to you, but it’s one of the ways your GSD picks up information about the dogs in the vicinity.
It’s usually a safe method, but as stated above, there are still clear risks to it which are severely reduced through annual vaccinations.
Whether you’re willing to take the risk or not by allowing him to lick another dog’s pee or preventing him from doing so, is completely up to you, but I’d advise against it.
However, you’re the person in charge of your Sheppie and I believe that you’ll be able to make the decision that works best for both you and him.
Until next time, pet parents.
 Agata K.-K., Martyna W., Mikołaj Z., Julia M., Katarzyna B., Michał D. (August, 2021.), Canine Olfaction: Physiology, Behavior, and Possibilities for Practical Applications, DOI