September 12, 2019

Help! My little mate is man-spreading!

Help! My little mate is man-spreading!
Dr. Chris Brown

It’s time we talked about the leg spread. So many of you are bemused and confused by this feat of canine flexibility. In fact, dogs will leg spread while sleeping, playing or seemingly just putting on a display around the house. So why is it such a favourite pastime? Here’s your answer…

It’s almost the downward dog for beginners. But the biggest fear for many pet owners is that it's a sign of hip dysplasia, the debilitating disease that affects so many dogs, especially larger breeds. But it turns out that 'frogging' or 'splaying' shouldn't warrant a freak out after all.

So why do they do it? Because it’s comfortable. It actually allows barrel chested breeds (like French bulldogs and pugs) to sit and sleep symmetrically. Importantly it also helps to regulate body temperature by allowing this relatively hairless part of the body release body heat by either airing those private areas or allowing them to conduct heat away to a cooler floor.

But what about those hips? Well, rather than causing damage, it’s actually a sign of very flexible hip joints - but not necessarily loose or dysplastic hips. In fact, dogs that have hip dysplasia usually struggle to 'frog' as they often have very tight groin (pectineus) muscles.

And who are the best 'spreaders'? Young dogs are the masters. In fact, most dogs grow out of leg spreading. Barrel chested breeds seem to be especially talented and most likely to continue the spread into later life…

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