Does Gender Really Matter - Male Dogs vs. Girls

Published: 18th January 2008
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Over the years the most common question I have received is not about specific health issues, not about training, or even about the temperament traits of my dogs. As a breeder, the most common question I have been asked is, "which is better - a boy puppy or a girl?"

I have also found it to be interesting that most often people believe that girl puppies will grow up to be more affectionate and easier to house break than males, and that boy puppies, without exception, will eventually start to urine-mark his territory - thus destroying furniture and carpets.

As a breeder, I have observed female and male puppies, as well as female/male adult dogs, individually and in-group environments. This opportunity has given me some insight to the, sometimes misleading and confusing differences between the two genders. It is important to understand that an unaltered (not spayed or neutered) dog will behave differently than an altered (spayed or neutered) dog no matter the gender of the dog.

Considering a Female Dog? Then Consider This. . .

When asked to share my opinion of the temperaments between male and female dogs, I always start by pointing out that the temperament of one dog can be very different of that of another dog - the sex of the dog having little or nothing to do with it. However, I have made some observations in regards to female puppies/dogs that I am happy to share with others.

Temperament Traits

Some unaltered (not spayed) female dogs can be described as Diva's. This always gets a laugh, especially from those who know what I'm talking about. These Diva Dogs tend to be very independent - preferring time alone over being petted or pampered. They can also be stubborn which can make potty training, and other obeisance training, a bit harder. I once had a 4 month old female puppy that spent the entire 1hr puppy kindergarten class (2 days a week) sitting with her back turned to the other puppies in class. She would half heartily participate, if I was involved, but when it was puppy play time, she would sit looking out the fence - as far away from the other puppies as she could get - giving an occasional glace over her shoulder to see if I was still there. It was obvious that she did not consider the other puppies worthy of her time or attention.

Alpha Leaders

Observing my three adult females and two adult male dogs while they are in the kennel has given me insight as to the "Dog Pack" dynamics. Unaltered females (ones that have not been spayed) are usually the ones that are in control of the pack. They determine the pecking order, and woe to any dog that does not follow orders. For this reason, an unaltered female can be intent upon showing her dominance over other females.

Normally I advise people that already have a female dog in the family, and are looking to add a second dog, to get a male.

To Breed or Not to Breed

Depending upon the breed and size of the dog, unaltered females can go into heat every 5 - 6 months. A female in heat is not a something you want to mess with unless you are prepared to breed her, (by prepared I mean, FINANCIALLY - the medical costs associated with a litter can be very expensive. SPACE - most people don't have the appropriate space for a litter of 5 - 9 growing puppies. TIME - caring for a postnatal dog with a litter of puppies is a full time job.)

With this said, I strongly suggest that if you are not going to show or breed your female dog then she should be spayed. The best time to spay is between the age of 4 - 5 months (remember some breeds can go in to their first heat at 5 months of age and it is easier on you and your dog if she is spayed before her first heat). Unlike what you might have heard or read, female/male dogs do not differ in the benefits of spaying/neutering. Spaying/neutering will not change your dog's playfulness, friendliness, and or socialization with humans. With female dogs, spaying will eliminate the monthly heat cycle, drastically reduce her dominance tendencies, territorial urine marking, and smooth out mood swings.

Dog Shows

If you intend on entering your AKC registered female dog in any American Kennel Club sponsored show ring, then spaying is out of the question. According to AKC rules governing dog shows (Rule XI), "A dog that is blind, deaf, lame, castrated, spayed, dyed or faked shall be ineligible to compete at any show . . ." If you have question concerning this topic or any other AKC subject matter you can get more information by visiting their website at

Considering a Male Dog? Then Read On . . .

As I mentioned before, it is my firm belief the temperament of dogs differ, just like the temperaments of humans. It would be unfair to say that human girl babies are better than human boy babies or vice versa - and the same is true of puppies. However; I have made some observations of male dogs over the years that I can share with others.

Urine Marking

Although it is true that unaltered (not neutered) male dogs have a greater reputation for territorial marking - unaltered females can, and will, mark their territory just like males - especially if she feels threatened. I have learned that the personality of each puppy and adult dog plays a more important role than gender. Dominance or lack of it, sociability, and or temperament is seldom specifically linked to the sex of the dog

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