Choosing Between a Male or Female Dog

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There are many myths of a boy vs girl dog, and this short document aims to correct a few.

One of the largest factors that change our perception of a boy vs a girl is how we engage with them.


Male or Female Dog? Choose the pet that suits you!

#1: Male dogs wander FALSE!

Male dogs only wander looking for a girlfriend if they are not desexed. Desexed pets both make and female make better pets anyway.

#2: Female dogs make better pets FALSE!

It's the 'fit' between the pet and the family that matters that that doesn't depend on gender. Good psychological testing before sale will find the best pet for you.

#3: Male dogs don't cuddle up like females do FALSE!

Most cats like to cuddle up! Anecdotally we hear reports that male dogs like to cuddle up more with their female owners (and female dogs with their male owners), but there is no real science on this and let's face it, where there is a warm place to snuggle, most dogs will be Male or female dog? Choose the pet that suits YOU! there!

#4: Male dogs bark more. FALSE!

Whether a dog barks too much depends on many things - degree of activity (which is often breed driven, not gender driven), boredom, ability to see passing activity etc. In homes with male and female dogs together, it's sometimes the female that barks more because she is defending her territory.

#5: It's easier to desex males. TRUE!

You will generally pay less to desex a male vs a female, because females need full abdominal surgery.

#6: Male dogs fight more FALSE!

In desexed pets, it's more about the amount of "alpha" (pack leadership tendency) that is more likely to determine whether or not your dog will cause trouble. That, and how well they understand 'Dog Law'.

#7: Male dogs need more exercise FALSE!

The amount of exercise a dog needs is related to what it was bred for and the individual, not to gender. Certain individuals in every breed are "cough potatoes" and some are in "hyper-drive" - and it's not gender related.

#8: Male dogs gain less weight! POSSIBLY TRUE!

While not a lot is available in the scientific literature, there is considerable anecdote that female dogs gain more weight after desexing than males do - and may also gain weight when a male of similar breed and bodyweight will not. This is not an issue if you condition score your pet frequently (about every 2 weeks) and adjust food intake to stop weight gain - and treat in moderation.

#9: Males mark territory everywhere and make a mess NOT NECESSARILY TRUE!

Males that are desexed early are less likely to 'lift their leg', less likely to obsessively mark territory and less likely to "hump" things. Females do mark territory and some do 'lift their legs' although this is rare. It's early desexing makes all the difference!

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Prato-Previdae et al have established that male and female humans interact with their pet differently, regardless of the gender of the pet. It seems that men and women love their pets as much, and pay and play with them as much, but that women are more likely to have a conversation with their pet. Perhaps this is a bigger difference than the difference between male and female dogs?


References: Prato-Previdae E; Fallani G and Valsecci P; Ethology 112 (2006) 64-73 Thanks to Geraldine, NSW Animal Rescue, and David for allowing us to share the beautiful photos, and to Dan from the Pet House for the inspiration behind this client information sheet.

This advice is of a general nature and is not a substitute for professional assistance. © Pets Australia 2013 Become a member of Pets Australia today! Produced by Pets Australia Pty Limited ABN 79 141 473 958 PO Box 176 Pymble NSW 2073 Email Ph 02 8214 8653

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