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Male vs. female dogs: What are their key differences?

Let's look at the differences between male and female dogs in behavior, care needs, and more

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Key Facts

  • Male dogs are often larger, more territorial, and may require consistent training for assertiveness.

  • Female dogs are smaller in size and typically perceived as more docile and easier to house-train.

Choosing the perfect canine companion involves more than just selecting a breed that fits your lifestyle—it also includes deciding between male vs. female dogs. While both sexes make great pets, there are some key differences that pet owners should consider before making a decision.

Some people are more comfortable with male dogs, believing them to be more protective and assertive. On the other hand, female dogs are often perceived as easier to train, making them a good choice for first-time pet owners.

In this guide, we’ll highlight the unique traits of each gender that may influence your decision. Here’s to finding a loyal companion that not only fits right into your life but also enriches it in every possible way.

Gender differences: Should you choose a pet dog based on gender? 

little puppies on a blanket

When adopting a dog, it’s good to consider whether a male or a female will best suit your lifestyle and living situation. It’s no secret that certain characteristics are commonly associated with each gender.

Just like people, dogs have personalities that go beyond their gender. For instance, male dogs are considered more territorial and dominant, while female dogs are deemed calmer and easier to train. As an owner, you’ll want to assess how these traits might affect your experience with a particular dog based on their unique needs and personalities.

In some cases, male dogs may be prone to marking their territory more often, while female dogs may experience hormonal changes that can affect their behavior. Knowing these differences can help you prepare for potential challenges as well as make necessary accommodations.

But ultimately, it’s important to choose a pet dog based on your own preferences and lifestyle rather than solely relying on gender stereotypes. A male or female dog can make an equally loving and loyal companion.

Female vs. male dogs: Which one should you get as a pet?

Choosing between a male or female dog as your next pet is a decision that needs thoughtful consideration, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Tailor your choice to your personal circumstances and outlook. Understand that each dog has the potential for companionship, love, and fun.

While there are behavioral tendencies associated with each sex, these are not absolutes.  Read on to learn more about general differences and everything about male dog vs female dog behavior.

In terms of cost

a beagle at a veterinary

When you’re trying to choose between male vs. female dogs as pets, understanding potential costs is both practical and empowering. On the surface, both may seem equivalent in terms of expense, but there are nuances worth considering.

Spaying a female dog is typically more costly than neutering a male due to the complexity of the surgery. For starters, spaying can cost anywhere from $50 to $500. Meanwhile, neutering ranges from $20 to $400.

However, this one-time expense can lead to long-term savings by preventing health issues related to reproductive systems. Unneutered males might be more likely to roam or fight, leading to potential veterinary bills for injuries. On the flip side, unspayed females will require special care during heat cycles, which could include hygiene products or potential vet visits for complications.

It’s important to note that these are general costs that can and do vary by geographical location, vet practices, and the dog’s size. Initially, setting up a furry friend can range from essentials like a bed or kennel, food, and other miscellaneous expenses to healthcare necessities such as vaccinations.

Recommendation:  When weighing the long-term financial implications, choosing a male dog could be more economical due to lower initial neutering costs and additional care required.

In terms of size and appearance

Dogs generally look similar regardless of gender. However, there are still male vs. female dogs pros and cons regarding appearance.

For example, females may have a more delicate appearance due to their smaller size and finer features. This can be seen in their overall body structure as females often have a smaller head and narrower snout. Meanwhile, male dogs are typically more muscular and larger in size.

There are also size differences between male and female dogs, with males usually being larger and heavier. This is because they have higher testosterone levels, aiding muscle development.

Recommendation:  Opt for a female dog if a more delicate size align with your preferences, as their finer features may suit owners looking for a less imposing companion.

In terms of behavior or personality

happy dogs playing in a park

Generally speaking, male dogs often showcase more dominance and can be territorial. They have assertive body language and marking habits, which proper dog care and early socialization can turn into positive behavior.

Conversely, female dogs are typically perceived as more reserved and may be easier to train due to their inclination to focus and please their owner. They can be less prone to engage in alpha-type behavior but may also exhibit mood changes during their heat cycles that require understanding and patience from their owners.

While the gender of a dog does influence certain behavior traits, it’s important to understand that each dog is unique and personality varies widely, even within the same breed. The idea of male dog vs female dog temperament is not a definitive rule, and factors such as dog parenting and puppy training can have a significant impact.


Recommendation:  A male dog might be suitable for someone looking for a playful and protective companion, while a female dog could be the perfect fit for a calm and consistent household.

In terms of lifespan and maturity

Male and female dogs have similar lifespans. Small breed dogs live an average of 12 to 14 years, medium breeds around 10 to 13 years, and large breeds typically live 8 to 10 years.

However, maturity can differ between genders and can affect male vs female dog personality. Male dogs tend to mature later than females, often taking up to a year longer to reach adulthood. This can mean they may act more puppy-like and exuberant for longer. Some owners may find this endearing, while others prefer a calmer dog.

On the other hand, female dogs tend to mature earlier and can become more independent compared to males. They don’t maintain playful behavior throughout adulthood and are often seen as more reserved. However, this also means they can be easier to handle and require less attention and training once fully grown.


Recommendation:  For those who value a mature, independent companion, a female dog is the ideal option, given their earlier maturity and naturally reserved demeanor.

In terms of care needsa corgi getting pampered

Because of male vs female dog characteristics, each pup can require different things. However, grooming and basic care, such as proper nutrition, exercise, and medical check-ups, are always up on the list.

Female dogs have specific needs during their heat cycles, which can be a challenging time for owners. This includes keeping them physically separated from male dogs to prevent pregnancies. Providing your female dog extra care and attention during this time is important to ensure their comfort and well-being.

On the other hand, male dogs may be more prone to medical issues such as testicular cancer and prostatic disease. This highlights the importance of neutering male dogs for their health and longevity.


Recommendation:  Both genders require similar levels of basic care, but it’s important to consider the specific needs of female dogs during their heat cycles and the health benefits of neutering male dogs. 

In terms of dog-proofing difficulty

When it comes to dog-proofing your home, there are different aspects to consider for male and female dogs. Male dogs may be more prone to marking their territory by urinating indoors, while female dogs may experience vaginal discharge during heat cycles.

Additionally, male dogs tend to have a stronger urge to roam and explore, making them more likely to escape from the safety of a fenced yard. Female dogs also tend to escape, particularly during their heat cycles, searching for a mate.

To properly dog-proof your home, it’s important to address these specific behaviors and tendencies of both male and female dogs. Here are some things you should prepare for:

  • Crate training: Crate training can help prevent male dogs from marking their territory indoors and also keep female dogs safe and contained during their heat cycles. It involves teaching your dog to feel comfortable and secure in a crate, which can also be useful for travel or if they need to stay at the vet.

  • Toilet training: Both male and female dogs need to be toilet trained, but it’s important to be extra vigilant with male dogs regarding marking. Reward-based training can help teach them where they are allowed to go to the bathroom.

  • Obedience training: By setting clear rules and boundaries from the start, your dog will learn to respect your space. Obedience training can be done by a professional dog trainer or at home.

  • Securing outdoor spaces: Adding extra reinforcement to your fence, such as burying chicken wire along the perimeter, can help prevent dogs from escaping and chasing after potential mates.


Recommendation:  Both male and female dogs would require dog-proofing. You only need to consider their specific behaviors and tendencies for a more effective approach. 

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Understanding the nuances of dog behaviors based on their gender is a vital part of establishing a secure and joyful setting for your furry friend. If you're unsure, check out Airtasker to find a reliable dog carer. Post a task today to connect with capable individuals who are ready to assist.

Male vs. Female Dogs

Male Dogs Female Dogs

Lower neutering cost

Higher spaying cost
Size and appearance Larger, more muscular

Smaller, finer features

Behavior and Personality More territorial, playful More docile, easier to train
Lifespan and maturity Mature later, longer puppy-like behavior Mature earlier, more independent
Care needs

Prone to roaming, benefits from neutering

Special needs during heat cycles
Dog-proofing May mark territory indoors
May require hygiene products during heat cycles

FAQs on male and female dogs

Absolutely! With proper training and socialisation, male and female dogs can live together harmoniously. It’s all about creating a balanced environment and setting the stage for a respectful relationship from the beginning. Plus, having a companion can be enriching for your dogs’ social lives.

Each dog has a unique personality that goes beyond gender. Love and affection in dogs can be greatly influenced by their dog parenting and individual temperaments. So, regardless of being male or female, your dog has the potential to be a loving member of your family.

Friendliness is not necessarily a trait dictated by gender. It largely depends on the dog’s personality, breed traits, and socialization experiences. Both male and female dogs can be equally friendly, hospitable to guests, and eager to make friends. It’s all about providing them with the right training and plenty of positive interactions.

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