The Male vs. Female Dog Debate

Male and Female Boxers

Photo by Jlhopgood / CC BY-ND 2.0

Do you have a preference between male and female dogs? In this battle of the sexes, the male vs. female dog (or better stated, dog vs. bitch) debate tries to uncover whether behavioral and temperament differences exist between male and female dogs that have been spayed or neutered at the appropriate ages. I’ve always had female dogs and do have a preference towards females, but sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out by not having a male dog.

Unless you’re planning on breeding your dog, you should have your dog spayed or neutered to avoid the obvious issues of male roaming and fighting, female heats and litters of unexpected puppies. When comparing spayed and neutered dogs of the same breed, except for male dogs being slightly larger and the unique way each dog decides to water your lawn or bushes, is there much difference between the two sexes? Some dog owners swear males and females have different temperaments and personality traits, while others chalk the differences up to how the dogs were raised and trained.

Here are some common notions people have when comparing male and female dogs of the same breed.

Facts or Myths?
Males Females
Always affectionate Enjoy affection, when in the mood for it
More aggressive More docile
More attentive More independent
More territorial over property More territorial over people
Harder to train, easily distracted Easier to train, more focused
Emotionally stable Moody – sulks, sighs and dirty looks
Stronger, more energetic Better with children and animals
Can have territorial urination Easier to housebreak
Tend to roam more More connected to owners
Demand attention Less pushy, but manipulative
More playful and goofy More stubborn
More destructive More dominant

Thinking about some of these perceptions raises more questions.

  • Do female dogs seem easier to train only because they mature faster than males dogs?
  • Are there more male champion show dogs because they’re more attentive, or more profitable?
  • If you’re getting a second dog, is it always best to get a dog of the opposite sex?
Perhaps this common saying among dog breeders and trainers says it best.
“If you want a good dog, get a male. If you want a great dog, get a female and cross your fingers.”
What’s your experience with male and female dogs and do you prefer one over the other?

17 Comments on “The Male vs. Female Dog Debate”

    • Interesting post – we’ve had both – I believe in the male/female housemates idea so have one of each. I think some of those traits are spot on. Our males are more affectionate, more territorial, but neither of them were roamers. My females…well yes, they’re more stubborn and manipulative for sure.

    • Well we are an all boy house. Harley is the first boy my family has ever had but we will never go back. Our family dog and all of our friends have females….while they are all excellent dogs, I think boys have less attitude and are more interested in making us happy! Thanks for sharing!

      • Hi. I am looking for advise. I have an eight year old lab cross and thinking of getting him a companion as he now seems lonely. My friends are saying we can only get a female. Chilli, my lab, is neutered, easy going and fun. Enjoys meeting other dogs.
        Any advise would be great. Thanks

        • Hi Laura, I’ve heard some dog owners suggest two male dogs may not get along together, but they’re usually talking about unneutered males. I’ve also talked with a lot of dog owners and know several people who have two (or more) male dogs and they get along great with one another. It sounds like Chilli is pretty chill with other dogs, so that should make it easier to find a compatible friend for him. Try to arrange a couple of visits with Chilli and any potential new dog before making a decision to make sure the dogs get along well.

          I wish I could give you a definitive answer, but unfortunately there aren’t any hard, fast rules about whether two males will get along or fight, except that it’s more likely that intact males may be competitive with each other.

          I’m curious about Chilli “seeming lonely”. Does he dislike being left home alone or is he slowing down a little bit and not as active or perky?

          Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your search for Chilli’s new buddy. I’d love to hear back later about what you decide and how things work out. 🙂

    • I’ve often wondered about this as well – especially since lots of rescue groups don’t like to place same sex dogs together. From my limited experience of owning a few male and female dogs the only real difference I noticed was that the males were more likely to wander (even after neutering). I don’t know if it’s really gender related or if breed characteristics. One of my very good friends has 3 female dogs and they get along perfectly. Growing up we had 3 males dogs and they were perfectly fine with one another. I’m guessing it’s more to do with each dogs individual personality but who knows? It’s a great thought provoking question.

      • I’ve known people who have had multiple males or females that got along well together too, but I’ve heard two females together are usually the worst pairing. Maybe it is personality though.

    • Thank you very much, great read. I’ve had both M&F GSD’s and both got along great with my female boxer (old lady). The male will not leave our side or home. The female roamed any chance she had. Female had tons of training and the male zero. Our female was much more protective of us and property. Not that the male isn’t in his laid back way…. love them both! 🙂

      • How interesting, both your male and female GSDs seem to be opposite of what some people think. All three sound like wonderful dogs. Thanks for sharing!

    • I had to laugh at this! I grew up with all male dogs – but we have fostered both males and females and obviously Lola is a female. I do not have a preference and think many of the traits depend on the dog! However, almost all of the characteristics for the female dog listed above, fit Lola. 😉 Sharing!

    • I think the dog’s individual makeup has a bigger influence on personality than the animal’s sex. I see my dogs (both male and female) in each column. That being said, I’ve discovered that my male dogs have been more devoted to me, whereas my female dogs have been more devoted to another family member. When I looking for my first AKC puppy (I’ve wanted to show since I was 9) I purposely chose a male. It was probably superstition, but Jedi is completely devoted to me nonetheless.

      • It’s interesting how your male dogs have been more devoted to you. I love hearing reader’s comments on this post since I find the topic fascinating. Thanks for adding your experience to the conversation.

      • I love hearing from people who have a lot of experience with dogs on this one. If you have time, let us know what makes your customers/adopters normally choose one sex over the other.

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