Which is better, boys or girls? Not to drag you back to your epic third grade playground debate with Jimmy Bemmelman, but when it comes to choosing the right dog for you, gender is something to consider. And while Beyoncé has firmly established that girls “run the world” (take that, Jimmy), a dog of either gender will run your household in different ways, though gender is likely to play a smaller characteristic role than breed. Let’s break it down, starting with a couple of big, fat disclaimers:
The following consists of anecdotal observations from dog owners. (Basically we’re talking stereotypes here.) So, while there are some patterns, nothing is set in stone. [Deleted questionable stereotype joke.]
The biggest influence on your dog’s behavior will be the environment you create and your own consistency, so don’t be putting your bad behavior on the dog. Got it? That’s all you, Mr/Mrs. Leaves Open Snack Containers on the Coffee Table.
Okay, here it goes:
- When it comes to training, people tend to think that female dogs are easier to teach and more focused than their male counterparts. The theory behind this is females have instincts that allow them to keep track of an entire litter of puppies. Hashtag multitasking. (However, male dogs tend to dominate competitive dog shows. Because trophies?)
- As for temperament, male dogs tend to be more bold and aggressive, while female dogs can be more territorial and protective of their owners. Female dogs tend to have more mood swings, but author Gina Spadafori of Dogs for Dummies, 2nd Edition has some distinctions:
"Unspayed females are generally moodier than unneutered males. Although males tend to be more constant in temperament, they can be annoying in their constant pursuit of such male-dog activities as sex, leg-lifting, and territory protection. (Some would say constancy isn't a positive trait in these cases, and argue that some unneutered males aren't just constant, but constantly annoying.)"
- Speaking of unspayed females, if you plan to breed your dog, her “cycle” (not the same as a human menstrual cycle, FYI) constitutes of four phases: proestrus, estrus, diestrus and anestrus. The first two phases, prestrus and estrus, are what we’re talking about when we say a female is “in heat” (aka Fertile Myrtle) and this happens roughly once or twice a year, depending on breed. During proestrus, which typically lasts anywhere from 3-17 days, she’ll have a bloody vaginal discharge. Yes. That. You can get some special panties for her to wear, which she will hate wearing and you will hate putting on and taking off her. (Srsly, just get your dog spayed.)
- Let’s talk affection--males will take as much affection as you can give (cough no surprise cough), while females prefer more of a balance between heavy petting and some quiet alone time to contemplate their relationships.
- In terms of size and weight, males, on average, are bigger and heavier than females. The difference tends to get more noticeable the bigger the breed, meaning your male and female Chihuahuas will be closer in size than a pair of male and female Great Danes.
- When it comes to kids, female dogs are more nurturing and tend to play a little softer while males can get more frisky. (And by frisky, we mean bitey.)
- As for expenses, one gender definitely requires more Benjamins. Well, at least in terms of spaying and neutering. It is quite a bit cheaper to neuter a male dog than to have a female spayed, a more complicated surgery. (Pro tip: definitely shop around and get references before any procedure to get a fair price from a reputable clinic.)
- Some people think that dogs experience some same-gender rivalries and suggest that if you’re bringing a new dog into your home, you might want to choose the opposite gender of what you already have to make a smoother transition. This doesn’t seem to apply when dogs are brought in together.
One last word of advice: gender differences are easy to anthropomorphize. As in, you are likely to notice and confirm all of the ideas you have already about human gender and project them onto your dog. So, if you’ve been holding a grudge toward all males since Jimmy Bemmelman, it should be taken into account. Also, work on your issues. It’s time.