Dear Daisy Dog: Taco, my Chihuahua, almost falls over when he lifts his leg to pee as high as possible on trees and bushes. Most other male dogs barely lift their legs to pee on a tree. Why does Taco behave this way?

Daisy Responds: Urine marking leaves a scent message for dogs that visit later, providing clues about the urinating dog’s size, gender, health and reproductive ability – therefore, the dog’s competitive power.

Researchers observed that many small male dogs exhibit considerable gymnastic skill as they urinate. So they tested their theory that these dogs are attempting to maximize the height of their urine marks.

They videotaped dogs of various sizes as they urinated, and then they studied the tapes closely. Their analysis compared the dogs’ height and weight with the angle at which they raise their legs to urinate and the height of the urine marks they leave.

They found that, relative to their size, small dogs urinate higher than large dogs. The researchers surmised that this was done “to exaggerate their competitive ability.”

So Taco is typical of many small dogs who want to be perceived as bigger than they really are. But Chihuahuas do that in other ways, too, don’t they? It just makes them more lovable.