The battle of the sexes is a well-known human trope that, at its core, reveals that men and women are fundamentally different in ways beyond the obvious physical clues. But does the same level of differentiation apply to the canine world? If so, how great is that level?
There Is a Difference!
Just like people, there are distinct personality differences between male and female dogs. This is especially the case for intact dogs - that is, pooches that have yet to be spayed or neutered. These differences should be carefully weighed before you run out and get a dog to bring home.
Male dogs tend to be much more dominant and territorial than their feminine counterparts. They also have a tendency to be more independent, active, and playful. On the other hand, they also tend to be more aggressive.
Female dogs, on the other hand, have a reputation for being easier to train and housebreak. What’s more, they tend to bond more readily with their owners. These behavioral tendencies may be why dog trainers and breeders recommend female pooches for homes with young children.
The one instance in which this common script is flipped is if a female dog is in heat. During this particular process, females may express distinctly dominant and territorial behavior. Obviously, these particular behaviors are not a concern if your female dog has been spayed - a practice that is recommended if you have no plans to breed or show your dog.
Other, More Subtle Physical Differences
Obviously, the main differentiating physical characteristics between male and female dogs are associated with reproduction and nursing. However, they aren't the only differences. If you have a keen eye, you can spot these somewhat subtle variations.
For instance, female dogs tend to have a smaller body frame than males. They also tend to mature at a faster rate than males, so you will experience the growing pains that come with a puppy transitioning to adulthood earlier. Other physical differences vary by breed, and can involve subtle factors such as coat color and thickness.
You Can Neutralize the Differences
If there is a pattern that is built around the differences between male and female dogs, it’s that the variances are based on dogs that are not necessarily immersed in a typical pet environment, such as your home. It should also be reiterated that these differences particularly manifest themselves in dogs that are not spayed or neutered. As such, it should be noted that you as a dog owner have the opportunity to make these differences relatively moot.
It is recommended that you spay or neuter your dog unless you plan on breeding or showing your pooch. Doing so will greatly temper some of their more unsavory gender-driven behaviors, such as territorialism in males or dominant behavior in females that are in heat. There are also well-known health benefits to the procedure, such as a decreased chance in developing uterine or ovarian cancers.
Your training can also play a substantial role in making your dog’s behavior more androgynous. If you give a dog proper care and training, you’ll have a dog whose main traits are obedience, attentive, and sweet, as opposed to the characteristics that distinguish males from females. This is especially the case if you get a dog that was properly socialized as a puppy.
Not a “One Size Fits All” Type of Scenario
It should be noted that while these differences between male and female dogs are based on observances, they are generalizations at best. Not all male dogs are going to demonstrate the same level of overtly dominant behavior. And while the chances of having an easier time training your female dog are quite good, it’s not necessarily guaranteed.
Ultimately, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference whether your dog is male or female if you spay or neuter him or her, and you provide him or her with a warm, loving environment. The goal as a dog owner is to have a loyal companion that will love you unconditionally. And if you do right by your pooch, you will be able to succeed in that endeavor, regardless if your dog is a male or a female.