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Male Dog vs Female Dog: What’s the Difference?

Oliver Jones

When it comes to male and female dogs, there are slight yet significant differences that not every owner may be aware of. In general, male, and female dogs look similar, but if you pay close attention to the overall appearance, behavior, and personality of the dog, it can be a telling sign whether it’s a male or a female dog.

There are very few differences between the different genders of the same dog breed, and it may not matter to you whether your dog is male or female. However, some owners prefer a certain gender over another for a personal reason. This article has made it easy for you to distinguish the differences by informing you of the characteristics that separate a male dog from a female one to better understand any significance in the overall gender of your dog.

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Visual Differences

german shepherd dogs sitting on grass
Image Credit: YamaBSM, Pixabay

At a Glance

Male Dogs
  • Average height (adult): 8 – 44 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 20 – 343 pounds
Female Dogs
  • Average height (adult): 5 – 42 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 20 – 350 pounds

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Male and Female Dogs 101

2 dogs behind safety rails
Image Credit: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock

The overall difference between the male and female dog you own depends on the specific breed. For example, the male Labrador dog breed looks slimmer and sleeker when compared to the female who typically has a rounded belly and shorter legs. Male Labradors also commonly have longer fur than females, which occurs in long tufts along their abdomen and back. In comparison, male and female dogs can look alike. Another sign that your dog may be a female or male, is by looking at the size and weight of the dog. Female dogs are generally smaller, yet they weigh slightly more than males who are taller and have a slim build.

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Male Pet Breed Overview

Tosa inu male dog closeup
Image Credit: acceptphoto, Shutterstock

Personality / Character

Male dogs seemingly have a more docile and active personality that attracts many dog owners. In nature, male animals are seen as the protectors of the family and must remain fit and strong to take on this role. This means that it is in their blood and males can come off this way in captivity as well. This has merely become a stereotype; however, many vets and canine behaviorists have deemed it true.

Training

Due to the increased stamina and vigor, male dogs seem to have, it makes them easier to train. Their slim build makes them faster than their female companions. The training ability has little to do with the intelligence of the two genders, as both male and female dogs are highly intelligent and receptive to being trained.

Health & Care

A healthy male dog should have very few health problems if they are fed a good diet and are cared for properly. There is no link to the health status of different dog genders. Both males and females can have genetically linked health problems or acquire them from the environment such as poor care, minimal exercise, and an inadequate diet.

Breeding

Male dogs are more likely to search for a female to mate with than a female dog is willing to find themself. Males sniff out a female’s pheromones to see if the female in question is in heat, which means she is ready to mate with that particular dog. This also explains why male dogs smell the anal region of female dogs since this is where most of the pheromones are released.

Male Pet Breed Pros
  • Slimmer
  • Increased urge to protect their family
Male Pet Breed Cons
  • Prone to male reproductive issues
  • Unneutered males spray to mark their territory

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Female Pet Breed Overview

golden retriever_ToB_Wikimedia
Golden retriever (Image Credit: ToB, Wikimedia Commons, CC 2.0 Generic)

Personality / Character

Female dogs are typically categorized as more energetic and nosier. Female dogs seem to have a popular wiggle that they do when they wag their tail and become excited, mixed with their rounded body it adds to their cuteness factor!

Training

Female dogs are equally as intelligent as male dogs. They can learn the same types of tricks and can be trained just the same as male dogs. Like male dogs, females can have similar energy levels, except that their rounded bodies make agility slightly more difficult.

Health & Care

Both male and female dogs can get the same illnesses, except when it comes to reproductive problems which are gender-based. Female dogs have an increased risk of mammary tumors if they are unspayed, however, spaying does not reduce the risk of other types of bodily cancer outside of the reproductive organs which can cause other health issues.

Breeding

Breeding your female dog should be avoided if possible. There is no necessary medical reason for your dog to have a litter of puppies, which is why so many veterinarians recommend spaying your dog when they are the right age.

Female Pet Breed Pros
  • Intelligent
  • Smaller than males
Female Pet Breed Cons
  • Unspayed females get a type of period
  • Prone to ovarian cancer if unspayed

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Which Dog Gender is Preferred?

irish setter standing in the field
Image Credit: Reddogs, Shutterstock

The owner’s personal preference plays a major role in the gender and breed of dog they want to own. Each individual has a preferred gender of canine companion they want, whereas some merely do not mind the gender of the dog at all. Certain dog breeds should not be overlooked because of their gender stereotypes, such as the popular belief that male owners should have a male dog or vice versa. If you find a dog that you like, the gender does not make much of a difference.

Do Male or Female Dogs Live Longer?

Gender does not play a role in the longevity of a dog. Every dog breed has a maximum and minimum lifespan that is not guaranteed. The majority of dogs who are well looked after can exceed the general length of their breed’s lifespan. A study done by Hoffman et al. in 2018,  concluded that male dogs are longer lived than female dogs are. However, another study done by Gerald P. Murphy showed that female dogs live longer. These two varying research reports show that there is no clear scientific difference between the two dogs’ gender lifespans.

Some studies have shown that spayed or neutered dogs live longer than their fertile counterparts, yet different studies prove this statement to be false. We should not focus on the longevity of a certain male or female dog, because every dog has the potential to live a different length of life. Illness and genetics play a huge role in the overall lifespan your dog will have, but there is no way to determine how long that will be until the time comes that they pass away.

Pee Stance and Pigmentation in Male and Female Dogs

Dog Pee on the tree
Image Credit: pcdazero, Pixabay

It is visually clear that females have slight differences in their appearance in comparison to male dogs. Most female dogs have a patch of pink or brown pigmentation near their genitals. This is slightly large than males and can sometimes extend to their chest. The females’ genitals and anus are closer together and sit underneath the tail, whereas male dogs’ genitals are further apart. Most male dogs will lift their legs when they pee, or even pee against a vertical object like a wall or tree in the garden. Whereas females will squat their back legs to pee. However, some females will pee with their legs up, and some male dogs will squat down to pee.

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Which Gender is Right for You?

Gender does not matter to most dog owners, but some people may prefer one dog gender over another. All dog shelters will have a varying amount of male and female dogs, which gives you plenty of options to choose your ideal dog breed and your preferred gender in a dog. Keep in mind that well there are certainly distinct differences between male and female dogs, it does not mean that it applies to every single individual dog. It is best to take a look at all the different dogs available for adoption and see which one catches your eye, whether it is a male or female dog will rarely matter once you take the dog into your loving home, but personal preferences are perfectly normal.

We hope that this article has helped to inform you of the main differences between male and female dogs. By using the information in the article, you will be able to determine which gender of a dog is better for.


Featured Image Credit: Anna_Bondarenko, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.