Male and female dogs differ biologically, but is there a notable difference in temperament between the canine sexes? Though there are no hard and fast rules to predict how a male will behave in contrast to a female, there are certain behaviors that you're more likely to see in one than the other.
Unfixed vs. Fixed
The most glaring differences in temperaments are evident in intact dogs -- that is, unfixed ones. Intact dogs are motivated by their desire to breed, as well as hormonal compulsions to mark territory and compete with other dogs. Intact males tend to be more territorial and dominant than females, which generally only demonstrate these behaviors during their twice-annual heats. Their abundance of testosterone can also make unfixed males more playful and easily distracted than their female counterparts.
Somewhat predictably, the temperamental differences between males and females are mostly hormone-related and dissipate after the dogs are spayed or neutered. According to the American Kennel Club, male and female dogs have "no significant difference in temperament," aside from the ones that are on display before they are fixed. Of course, that isn't true 100 percent of the time, but it does mean that generally, males and females aren't that much different once they've been fixed.
A dog's temperament may influence how receptive he or she is to training. For example, intact males may be more difficult to train, because they are independent, energetic and sometimes aggressive. Conversely, female dogs can be easier to housebreak and train, but they may also demonstrate more dependence on their owners.
Experts agree that while males and females do show temperamental differences, they are often unpredictable, and this shouldn't dictate your choice between a male or a female dog. Much more influential are the dog's breed, lineage and upbringing, which are more reliable predictors of a dog's attitude and future behavior.
by Tom Ryan
About the Author
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.