Toxic masculinity: These men are ashamed to show up with their little dogs

Because of the codes linked to virility, some feel uncomfortable when taking out their poodle or other small creatures. Men want that to change.

Conscious or not, gender stereotypes go so far as to dictate the choice of a dog breed.


Social gender codes oppress individuals even in their choice of dog breed. Several men have testified to our “20 Minuten” colleagues about the way they are looked at when they walk with certain pets.

“Dogs for Gays”

Thus, a Zurich man, who is used to taking out his girlfriend’s two dwarf spitz, says he “always feels a little ashamed” when he is alone with them in the street. Another reader tells us about his brother, a big, burly fellow who loves his miniature poodle more than anything else: “men often ask him why he chose a dog for gays.” Conversely, women “admire” him for assuming this choice, as if it were a feat to assume to break the codes and to be a man who has a poodle.

The president of the Swiss Poodle Club finds that it is the men who criticize his choice who have a concern.

The president of the Swiss Poodle Club finds that it is the men who criticize his choice who have a concern.


Asked about the phenomenon, Raphael Kiesinger, president of the Swiss Poodle Club, returns the criticism. “The one who has a problem is the one who gives up a small dog, only because of the codes of manhood. Being a man isn’t about having a poodle or not,” he says.

Free yourself from the codes

Markus Theunert, the director of mä, the umbrella organization of Swiss men and fathers, is also dismayed. He recalls, in case anyone had forgotten, that “the demands of masculinity” are all about performance, strength, power, money and status. No surprise, then, if men see it as a dramatic emasculation to own a poodle. “There needs to be more flexibility in the demands of masculinity,” he argues.

For some men, having a stereotypically

For some men, having a stereotypically “feminine” dog would almost become a flirting technique.


Some of the men concerned, they try to draw something positive, at least for them. “You start a conversation more quickly with women when you have a cute little dog on a leash,” testifies a reader from Zurich.


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