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Male Vs Female: Which Pup Is Right For You

We get asked many questions from confused pet parents about choosing a new pup, but one of the most often asked questions is whether it makes a difference if the pup is male or a female? Are certain gender distinctions, for example, better suited to pet parents with certain lifestyles? Below we discuss the differences between the canine sexes and if these differences should influence your choice.


Of course, breed choice is the primary determinant of a pup’s health and physical appearance, however, gender also produces certain distinctions within the breed. Male dogs tend to be larger and stronger than females of the same breed but are more likely to develop heart and joint related illnesses such as osteoarthritis. This is especially true for larger breeds. Females are smaller and are more at risk for digestion and skin problems. In terms of activity levels, males tend to be a bit more energetic, but breed not gender will be the determining factor for how much exercise your dog will require. 

Spaying or neutering your pups will also affect their physical health.  Intact females will go into heat twice a year with 7-10 days of bleeding and behavioral changes.  Your female dog may become more distracted and may begin to roam in an attempt to find a mate.  Spaying your pup will eliminate these seasonal changes but requires an invasive procedure and considerable recovery time.  On the plus side, fixing your female will eliminate any chance of her contracting pyometra, a potentially fatal infection of the uterus, but may cause problems with incontinence down the line.  The risk of incontinence may be lessened if you delay spaying until after her first season. 

Like intact females, unfixed males will also tend to roam more in search of a mate.  In addition, they will engage more in humping and may be more anxious and aggressive than their neutered counterparts. Neutering male dogs requires a less invasive procedure than spaying and prevents testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate cancer.  The risks of neutering your dog may include decreased metabolism and an increased risk of joint and ligament issues. However, delaying neutering until after 12 months could decrease this risk for osteoarthritis.


Again, breed will play a large role in determining the personality traits of your dog. However, there are many notable distinctions between the genders within breeds. While both genders will mark their territories and be protective of their humans, male dogs tend to be more territorial, displayed by roaming outside the home and increased barking when strangers enter the home.  Police and military personnel tend to prefer male dogs, citing anecdotal evidence of quicker testosterone induced reaction times, but the research is still unclear if there is a significant difference between the genders.

Although both male and female dogs are extremely loyal, some research suggest that female dogs may display more composure on walks while staying closer to their owners, which suggests that female dogs value loyalty to their owners over their own desire to roam or explore their territory. In terms of greeting other dogs when out, males tend to immediately sniff from behind and may be more aggressive when greeting face to face.  Female dogs greet face to face before sniffing from behind and may be less aggressive with other dogs.  In general, both genders greet canines of the opposite sex better, but this is especially true of male dogs. 

Male dogs are usually considered to be more affectionate than female ones, as they are usually more accepting of being touched and cuddled.  Male pups are often called “goofy” and may display more playful antics for a longer period of time than female puppies. However, research suggests that female dogs are more attentive to their human’s needs and that female dogs’ maternal instincts make them kinder and gentler with babies and children.


 Again, trainability is a highly breed-related trait, with both male and female dogs usually eager to please their owners.  However, it is often thought that female dogs are more trainable due to their maturity and attentiveness. Female puppies mature mentally and physically faster than male puppies making them less playful and more focused on the demands of their owners. However, due to this increased attentiveness, they may be more sensitive to shifts in their owner’s mood and temper. For best results use positive reinforcement and an even, patient approach to training your female pup.

Male dogs’ playful nature may at times interfere with training sessions, but like their female counterparts, male puppies are eager to please.  With male dogs, consistency along with positive reinforcement is key. Discover which reward system your pup prefers, and structure your training system accordingly.


All in all, there are indeed a few notable distinctions between male and female dogs, but is one gender more suited to a certain owner or lifestyle? For the most part, no.  Male dogs’ size and heightened protectiveness may give them a slight edge as guard dogs, while female dogs’ intuitiveness may make them a bit easier to train as service and support dogs, but in reality, the differences are minute. Both males and females make great companions for children and the elderly alike, and both genders serve as guard dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs.  The small distinctions between males and females are not enough to determine that one gender may be better suited to you than the other.  The main consideration should be the breed and your ability to provide your puppy with his/her breed requirements.  Even within breeds, dogs differ, and solid training is the essential key to ensuring your pup adapts to your requirements and living situation.

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