For years the mystery has haunted me. It all started when I was chatting with a perfectly nice couple interested in adopting a dog.

The wife all of a sudden looked at me and said, “I’d like to ask you a question, it’s kind of weird but…”

Her husband, clearly getting uncomfortable, interrupted and exclaimed, “No, no, please don’t ask her!”
So, of course, I’m thinking, “Oh heck yes, please ask me. This is going to be good!”

The woman, overriding her husband’s concerns, asked me if the rescue could guarantee, should she adopt a male dog, he wouldn’t have a “peek-a-boo penis?”

I didn’t expect this question. Ever. It even left me speechless. Then I burst out laughing and said, “A peek-a-boo penis?”

She responded, “Yeah, you know, when their little penis pokes out of the fur, and why does that happen? Can you make it not happen?”

“I’ve officially heard it all,” I thought to myself, and responded, “Wellllll, I don’t think any rescue can guarantee that, how about you adopt a female dog?”

But I couldn’t answer her, “why does it happen” and “can you make it not happen” question.

Ever since, I’ve occasionally wondered, especially when I’ve noticed the phenomena on my own neutered male dog… Why does he sometimes have a peek-a-boo penis? In the situations I’ve observed it, there were no hot female dogs in the park wagging their tails at him. In fact, most of the times when I noticed a peek here or there, I was stumped trying to figure out the cause.

So what does it really mean?

I went straight to Dr. Lori Teller, an expert with the American Veterinary Medical Association.
First, I had to explain the entire situation, so she didn’t think I was a weirdo. “I did laugh out loud when I read your story,” Teller assured me. She added the only way to guarantee a no peek dog would be to adopt a female.

Got it. Female dogs are better for people with penis concerns. But for those of us, who think about these things, why do the peeks sometimes occur?

“Male dogs, whether intact or neutered, can become aroused by things that are non-sexually stimulating,” Teller said. “Sometimes it can be from excitement or play behavior, and other times dogs have just learned that it feels good to lick their penis or masturbate.”

Okay, so that explains why my male dog has an occasional peek when we arrive at the dog park in the car, he is probably excited to get out and run around. The latter part, I’m not going to think about.

And Teller agreed. “It’s not necessarily from anything sexual. If you’ve ever changed a little boy’s diaper, they frequently get an erection just from being released from the confinement of a wet diaper and being exposed to the air. It’s just a sensory response and may not be the result of any conscious thought.”
She adds it’s all fine and well unless your dog seems to be in distress. “As long as it’s not excessive or the dog is not compulsive about it, it’s best to ignore the behavior. If the erection does not go down, if there is blood or discharge, or if the dog is straining to urinate, then those situations warrant immediate veterinary attention to prevent or treat a more serious problem,” Teller said.

The case of the mysterious peek-a-boo penis is officially closed!


Editorial Note: ALL dogs are worthy of good homes. The “peek-a-boo” penis is an involuntary response to their environment, like goosebumps! No dog should lose out on a forever home because of this so please bear that in mind.


Contributed by: Mary Schwager, aka, WatchdogMary , a TV and print journalist that proudly watchdogs for animals. She’s honored to have won 14 Emmy, 7 Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards for investigative reporting & writing.