Pre-copulatory Behaviour - Anatomy & Physiology

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Search for Sexual Partner

Species Bull Stallion Ram Boar Dog Tom
Searching Behaviour Approach Sexually Active group of Females,Test for Lordosis,Flehmen Visual Search,Flehmen Sniffing & Licking of Ano-Genital Region,Nudging Ewe,Flehmen Moving among Females Roaming around Territory Prowling

Tactile Stimulation

  • Tactile stimuli from males is important in provoking sexual postures or standing postures by females.
    • Stallion: Bites the neck or withers of the mare
    • Tom: Bites the neck of the Queen
    • Bull: Chin rests on the back of the cow just prior to mounting

Vomeronasal Organ

  • Vomeronasal organ is an accessory olfactory organ.
  • Connected to two small openings in the anterior roof of the mouth just behind the upper lip.
  • Fluid-borne, less volatile chemicals enter the vomeronasal organ through the oral cavity by means of nasopalatine (incisive) ducts.

Flehmen Response

The Flehmen Response'

Courtesy of Anna Schultz.

The Flehmen Response in the Horse

Courtesy of Anna Schultz.
  • Some pheromones are less volatile and need to be detected by the vomeronasal organ.
    • Bull, ram, stallion, some extent the boar.
  • Male closely approaches the source of pheromones and will nuzzle the female genital region.
  • Flehmen behaviour is characterized by:
    • Head elevation
    • Curling of the upper lip.
  • Curling of the upper lip closes the nostrils and allows negative pressure to form in the nasopalatine duct.
  • Flehmen behaviour allows less volatile pheromones to be examined by sensory neurons in the vomeronasal organ.

  • As in the males, females will display flehmen to novel compounds such as fluids associated with the placenta, newborn animals and other volatile materials.
  • Frequently displayed by post-parturient females as they make identity discriminations between their own versus other's neonates.


Species Bull Stallion Ram Boar Dog Tom
Courtship Behaviour Nuzzling & licking of perineal region, chin resting, testing for lordosis High Degree of Excitement Neck Outstretched,Head held Horizontally Nuzzling,Teeth Grinding,Foams at Mouth Sniffing,Licking of Vulva Biting Queen on Dorsal Neck

Sexual Arousal

Species Bull Stallion Ram Boar Dog Tom
Consummation Behaviour Penile Protrusion,Dribbling of Seminal Fluid with few Spermatozoa,Erection,Attempted Mounts Penile Protrusion,No Preejaculatory Expulsion of Seminal Fluid Repeated Dorsal Elevation of Scrotum,Penile Protrusion,Dribbling of Seminal Fluid Penile Protrusion,Shallow Pelvic Thrusts, Attempted Mounting Erection,Protrusion of Penis,Mounting Mounting