Boys or Girls
In some ways, choosing between male and female dogs is a matter of personal preference. However, there are some characteristics which are common in females and other characteristics which are common in male dogs. It is important to evaluate these characteristics and determine which sex would fit in best with your home situation when you choose a puppy. Additionally, choosing between a male and female puppy is important if you already have another female or male dog.
The following characteristics often apply to females
- Independent- Females tend to want to be in control of the entire situation. They may come to their owner when they are seeking affection but will often move away when they have had enough.
- Stubborn – In many packs, a female is typically the Alpha dog. Female dogs crave more control of situations and are quick to respond to perceived challenges with fierceness.
- Territorial – Female dogs mark in the same way male dogs do. A spayed female may continue to mark for her entire lifetime regardless of when she is spayed while most males will cease marking behaviors shortly after they are neutered and the testosterone levels subside.
- Reserved – Females are generally less affectionate and friendly than male dogs. This characteristic is noticeable in puppies and becomes more pronounced with age.
- Changes in Mood or Behavior – It is also important to note that if you do not spay your female, she will come into heat at approximately one year of age and approximately every six months thereafter. During this time, there will be some bleeding as well as a change in mood or behavior. Keep this in mind when you adopt a puppy and make the decision of whether or not to spay her.
The following characteristics often apply to male dogs:
- Affectionate – Male dogs are typically more affectionate than females. They tend to crave attention from their owners more than females and as a result, display more affectionate
- Exuberant – A male dog is also more likely to be fun-loving and outgoing throughout his lifetime than a female. While a female tends to become more reserved as she ages, a male dog maintains a more puppy-like exuberance throughout his lifetime.
- Food-Motivated – Males are often very motivated by food. This food motivation can make training extremely easy as treats can be used to lure and reward a dog to display desired behaviors.
- Attentive – While females tend to be more independent, males tend to be more focused on their human companions. They want to always be close to the human and are very eager to please.
- Aggressive Behaviors – It is also important to note that intact males may display aggressive dog behaviors toward other males or exhibit marking behaviors. Additionally, intact males should be kept away from females in heat unless a breeding is planned.
Dog owners who are adding an additional dog to their home should carefully consider the ramifications of adding a dog of either sex. This is important because the makeup of the existing pack may be more accepting to either a male or a female dog. The following are general tips for selecting the gender of a second dog:
- If you already have a male or a female, a dog of the opposite sex is generally the best choice. Dogs of the same sex are more likely to fight than dogs of the opposite sex.
- If you already have a male dog, he is likely to be more accepting of a female and you are likely to have fewer dominance issues if you add a female to the pack. However, if you opt to add another male to the pack, they can peacefully co-exist and may even become friends. It is important to closely monitor their interactions early on to ensure aggressive behaviors do not become common.
- If you already have a female dog, she is likely to be more accepting of a male. Most males tend to be submissive. If he does not challenge your resident female, she is not likely to have a reason to fight with him. Adding a female dog to the pack, however, may result in complications. The worst combination of dogs is two females because they are more likely to fight than a male and a female or two males. However, many dog owners have two or more females that live together without problems. As long as there is an established Alpha dog and the other females know their place in the pack, there will not be dominance struggles often, although they may still occur.
Selecting a male or female dog is largely a matter of personal preference. The above characteristics are generalizations, and it is certainly possible to adopt a female puppy who displays male characteristics or a male puppy who displays the typical female characteristics. Additionally, females that are spayed and males that are neutered often do not have the gender-specific problems associated with their sex such as coming into heat or marking.
So, if you’re asking yourself, “What dog should I get?”, make sure to consider the dogs you already have and the gender that goes best with your lifestyle. Good luck.