The great male vs female dogs debate is one that is fought with surprising vigor, given that boy and girl puppies both make affectionate, loyal and trainable pets. I often find myself shocked by how hard some of my friends and colleagues fall on each side of the argument. Boy or girl puppies do have some key differences as they grow. Male dogs might range further and be more likely to escape the backyard, and female dogs can have more toilet training troubles later in life. Male and female dogs are mostly similar, although some breeds have more differences than others in terms of size and weight.
- Male vs female puppies
- How do male vs female dogs appearances differ?
- Hormones and neutering
- Male vs female dogs behavior and aggression
- Training male vs female dogs
Today we’ll delve into the ways they differ, and where there really isn’t any scientific way to tell them apart. We’ll share boy dog vs girl dog personality along with the very real differences in male vs female dogs’ health. And give some tips to spotting the variations in appearance, and how those physical differences between a female vs a male dog may impact on your family and lifestyle.
Male vs Female Puppy
There is little difference between a male and a female puppy at eight weeks old. On average, male puppies are slightly larger than their sisters, but that’s about it. However, puppies don’t stay puppies for long. They grow up fast, so you really need to consider the difference between male and female dogs once they reach maturity.
There are two key aspects of adult canines that may influence your decision when choosing between a male or female puppy. These are the dog’s physiology and temperament. Physiology is the way a dog looks and his bodily functions. Temperament is the way a dog behaves. Let’s take a look at the physical differences first.
There are differences, but they are not as great as some people think!
To begin with, male dogs are often a little larger than females. The difference in size is probably not enough to matter much to anyone. Not all male dogs are bigger than all female dogs of course, but on average, the male puppies in a purebred litter will grow slightly taller and heavier than the females in the same litter. The size difference is greater in some breeds than others, and it will be less pronounced in a male dog that has been neutered at an early age.
Males also tend to have a different look. They appear, unsurprisingly, more masculine and may have larger chunkier heads. If you prefer the distinctive male look of your breed then this might be an influencing factor for you. Both when choosing a puppy, and when making decisions about neutering. Of course, we already understand the most obvious and significant physical difference between male and female dogs. But, what are the implications of that difference? That is largely influenced by sex hormones.
Hormonal Differences in Male vs Female Dogs
As a puppy approaches sexual mature, sex hormones cause bodily changes. For females dogs, that means the start of their seasons, or coming into heat. This occurs twice a year for two to three weeks unless they are spayed. During this time, she will have a bloody discharge that attracts male dogs. The discharge is messy and can be smelly. You’ll want to keep them off light-colored carpet and furniture. Dog diapers can help with this issue.
Female dogs in heat cannot be walked in public because male dogs may become aggressive in their desire to mate. To avoid an unintended pregnancy, you’ll want to take precautions to keep male dogs away from your female dog in heat. It is not uncommon for male dogs to jump fences in order to mate. Whether or not this inconvenience is a big deal for you is a personal matter. Spaying a female dog is more expensive than neutering a male dog and may not be covered by pet insurance.
Male dogs do not have seasons, and unless neutered, they can be sexually active all year long. Once an intact male dog reaches sexual maturity, he may begin to mark, mount and roam. Neutered male and female dogs may also exhibit these normal canine behaviors, but typically to a lesser degree. The instinct to mate is strong, so you’ll need to take precautions to keep your dog from roaming in search of mating opportunities. Neutering will mitigate a lot of the differences between male and female dogs.
Neutering Male vs Female Dogs
It’s important to think about whether or not you will alter (spay or neuter) your dog before you choose between a girl or boy dog. The issues that surround neutering might influence your decision on whether or not to neuter your dog, even if you haven’t thought about it yet.
For example, you might choose not to neuter a female Golden Retriever because the breed is susceptible to a number of cancers that have been shown to develop more frequently in altered dogs. If you definitely don’t want to cope with a female dog in season, then the sensible option might be to get a male instead. We’ve looked at the physical differences between male and female dogs, so now it’s time to consider temperamental and behavioral differences. Some people are worried about the look of a neutered dog as well as the physical and emotional changes, to the extent that they’ve even invented an implant to help keep male dogs looking intact!
Behavior and Temperament
You may have heard that female dogs are more loyal than males. This myth persists from the days when many dogs were left to wander unsupervised in the community where they lived. Once sexually mature, male dogs usually want to roam to find a mate. Female dogs may do this too, especially when they are in heat, but roaming is more common in males. A dog proof perimeter around your garden or yard will solve this problem and help keep your dog safe from traffic or theft.
Are Male Dogs More Aggressive?
Whether male dogs are more aggressive than females is not as clear cut as it might seem. Both male and female dogs can be aggressive. Evidence suggests that male dogs are more likely to posture, threaten and challenge as part of social ordering behavior. However, this is often a show that doesn’t result in an attack. Fights between two male dogs are often ritualistic and cause little harm.
While female dogs are less likely to exhibit threatening behavior, they have a stronger tendency to enforce their dominance in the social hierarchy. Fights between two female dogs are more likely to occur than fights between two male dogs. In addition, female dog fights are typically more damaging.
Do Male Dogs Bite More?
Dog bites are more often attributed to male dogs than female dogs and more often to intact males than neutered males. These facts may not be as significant as they seems because they only report numbers and not reasons. Studies have shown that dog bites are the result of a wide variety of factors related to both the human and the dog involved in each incident.
There may be more dog bite incidents involving male dogs due to increased contact related to roaming behavior, for example. And, of course, this behavior is stronger among intact male dogs. In fact, unrestrained dogs roaming off the owner’s property account for about a quarter of all dog bites.
In addition, one study found breed differences in aggressive and biting behaviors. Specifically, that increased aggression among intact males (as opposed to neutered males) in two of the breeds studied did not apply to the other breeds of dog in the study.
Which Sex Is Friendlier?
Friendliness appears to be far more related to a dog’s breed than to a dog’s sex. A male dog from a breed that is known to be generally friendly may be friendlier than a female from a more aggressive breed. If on the other hand, you are looking at a breed with known temperament or aggression issues, then you may want to give the question of boy dog vs girl dog a bit more thought.
Selecting a responsible breeder is an important factor for friendliness for two important reasons. If you want a friendly dog, you want a breeder that has taken care to only breed from dogs that are not aggressive. In addition, early socialization and handling are critical to ensure that your dog is comfortable and friendly around people and other animals.
One study found that male dogs are more inclined to engage in social play with humans than females. While females are inclined to engage in cooperative behavior with humans. Which leads us to training, which is easier to train, a male or female dog?
Are Male Dogs Harder to Train?
Interestingly, male dogs predominate in a number of sports, which might indicate that they are easier to train, rather than harder. But again, we need to tease out the facts.
In competitive sports, successful dogs are valuable as breeding stock and are rarely neutered.
Females can be tricky to compete as they may lose valuable competition and training time by coming into season or being tied up with pregnancy and lactation. So the predominance of males may say more about their ability to be free from obligations than how easy they are to train.
Many experienced dog owners have a natural preference for one gender or another. Sometimes this is based on their perception of male and female temperaments.
Sometimes it’s just one of those things that a person can’t really explain. If you have a choice and you just feel drawn to girl dogs vs boy dogs, there’s nothing wrong with that.