So, you want a pet dog! First of all, you're considering what size dog you can handle in your home. Then you're looking at the different breeds that might suit your lifestyle. And finally, you need to consider if you want a male or female dog.
But is gender really a concern? Male and female dogs are surprisingly similar (the obvious anatomical differences aside), and any differences in temperament and personality become even less pronounced when the dog is spayed or neutered.
However, to help you decide between the two sexes, we decided to look at the similarities and differences between male vs. female dogs and what you need to consider while preparing for a puppy of either gender.
Keep reading to find out more!
Is there a difference between male vs. female dogs?
We all know what the obvious difference between male and female dogs is! They are different genders, which means that they have different anatomies (genitals being the prime difference!)
But as well as anatomical differences, there are also differences in hormonal activity, health, behavior, and cognitive or learning abilities.
However, are these differences really that pronounced? It's often differences between breeds that are more of a concern for an owner than differences in a boy or girl dog.
For example, if you live in a small apartment, you're going to want a small breed dog like a Jack Russell (even if you'd need to install a bed ramp for dogs to help them get up on the sofa), rather than a large breed like a labrador.
The gender differences are marginal in this situation, as the male and female Jack Russel are both going to be much, much smaller than the labrador!
But let's say you've decided on the breed of dog that's suitable for you. How, then, do the differences stack up, and when can they be a concern?
The major differences between male and female dogs
At this point, it's important to say that these differences often disappear (not entirely, of course) when you take into consideration spaying and neutering.
Spaying and neutering need to be considered by all owners before investing in a new puppy or picking up their rescue pup. The vast majority of family dogs are spayed and neutered.
And what is spaying and neutering?
- Female dogs go through the process of spaying.
- Male dogs the process of neutering.
- These are necessary surgeries that sterilize the dog when they are young, which removes their ability to reproduce and have puppies and affects their behavior and hormones. Gender essentially becomes less of a problem!
But let's take a look at the significant differences in more detail, so you can decide if a girl or a boy dog is more suited to your home!
Male dogs are bigger than female dogs
- Male dogs are almost always going to be larger than females. That's just anatomy. Therefore, if you want the smallest dog possible, then go for a female.
- Male and female dogs also have different looks, although, for many breeds, it can often be difficult to tell males and females apart.
- Male dogs have larger, more pronounced heads (more masculine looking, essentially).
Then there are the apparent differences down below!
Female dogs mature faster than males
When they are growing up, female dogs are known to mature at a faster rate than males. That means that your female puppy is going to grow up faster than a male puppy!
If you aren't a fan of the puppy stage, then a female is a better option.
Because they mature faster, female dogs will be easier (or at least quicker) to train. They'll start to understand the world around them faster than their male counterparts and will react to and learn commands more efficiently at an earlier age.
Males are more aggressive
Most males are typically much more aggressive than females as a whole.
- Males are much more territorial, and they'll be more likely to bite or snarl if they feel threatened.
- If you have children or other dogs around the home, this can be an issue if your dog becomes overly aggressive.
- However, if a female hasn't been spayed, they can also become aggressive and territorial during heat or when protecting their puppies.
Anyway, if your dogs are spayed or neutered, aggression and territorialism become almost irrelevant!
Females are smarter
This one is debatable, but females are often considered smarter than their male counterparts.
- Females not only mature quicker but are said to have better cognitive abilities.
- They learn things easier than males, therefore they are easier to train, and in many ways, easier to look after.
- This intelligence also helps them to bond better with their owners.
Males are more independent
Males are certainly more independent than females. A lot of this is due to hormones, as male dogs instinctively need to wander. It's not necessarily a need for exploration, but a need to find a mate!
- This independent streak is likely to give male dogs a more adventurous personality. Which can be positive or negative, depending on the situation. While more playful, owners might prefer a laid back dog over a disruptive dog.
- If a male dog hasn't been neutered, this adventurous personality becomes much more noticeable.
- Females, on the other hand, are less likely to wander unless they are in heat. They'll be less concerned with escaping the garden or causing trouble in the living room.
Females can have puppies
Unspayed females can, of course, have puppies!
For some owners, this is a reason not to have a female dog (if there's not going to be any spaying).
On the contrary, if you're a breeder - then you'll want a female to give you puppies.
How to choose a male or female dog?
If you're choosing to have your doggo spayed or neutered, there isn't much to consider when choosing between male dogs and female dogs.
However, male dogs will be larger than female dogs (although the breed is more important in this respect than gender), and male dogs tend to be slightly more aggressive than female dogs.
On the other hand, female puppies can be easier to train as they mature faster, while male dogs can be more playful (but also more adventurous, which could be a problem!)
If you aren't spaying or neutering, you need to consider what happens when a female is in heat and how you'll control your male dog when they are around females (you'll need to learn how to calm a male dog when a female is in heat).
If males aren't neutered, they are much more aggressive and domineering than females and are more likely to bite.
If you're not sterilizing, then it's advisable to have prior experience with dogs, as both genders have a more pronounced personality and are more challenging to train and keep under control.
Males vs. females and nature vs. nurture
Remember, much of a dog's personality and temperament are determined not by gender but by how they are raised.
While nature does have its say, of course, particularly when hormones are a factor, it's a dog's upbringing that has the most lasting effect on its character.
Treat your furry friend with kindness, love, and affection, and they'll repay you with the same. Mistreat your dog, and they will be more anxious and aggressive, regardless of their gender!
Our last word on deciding between male vs. female dogs
Deciding whether or not you should have a male or female dog in your home depends a lot on whether you're neutering and spaying them. If you are neutering or spaying, then the genders' hormonal and behavioral differences become almost irrelevant!
What's more important to consider is the dog’s personality if you're going for a rescue dog, or its upbringing if you're bringing home a puppy:
- How big is your home?
- Do you have a family?
- Or do you want a particular breed of dog?
Why not bookmark our guide to male vs. female dogs to help you choose the right dog for your home?