Male or female?

Male or female?

After deciding whether to adopt a purebred dog or a mongrel, you still have to decide the gender of the future pet. ¿Would a male or a female be better? The answer, as always, is: ¡it depends!

Males and females differ in physical structure, as in physiology and behaviour. To begin, males are often larger than females. And despite the fact that this difference can hardly be seen in some breeds, such as the Westie, in others it implies a difference of several kilos, as in the case of many Molosos.

From a physiological standpoint, the biggest difference between males and females is the sexual cycle. Females that are not sterilised are usually sexually receptive every six months, so during these periods close monitoring is needed to prevent unwanted litters. Moreover, when a female dog begins to be in heat, it may suffer a loss of blood for several days, and two months after being in heat it may have symptoms of pseudopregnancy, that is behaving as if it were close to labour or had just given birth: appearing to be nervous, looking for isolated places, adopting and protecting inanimate objects as if they were puppies, and they can have distended abdomens and swollen breasts and can even produce milk. However, with sterilisation the sexual cycle disappears, as does the possibility of pseudopregnancy.

With respect to behavioural differences, these are appreciated as related to gender, especially in behaviours that are technically called “sexually dimorphic”. Thus, it is more frequent that a male uses urine marking, lifts a paw to urinate, escapes in search of a female in heat, rides and shows aggression towards dogs of the same gender or other types of offensive aggression. Although sterilisation can help control some of these behaviours, gender differences also remain after sterilisation, as removal of the testes or ovaries does not alter the structure of the brain. Near birth, the brain of each puppy develops in a male or female direction, so even without sex hormones, differences can be seen between males and females.

In choosing the gender of the future pet, we must also take into account the presence of another dog in the house. If the resident dog is a male, it would be preferable to choose a female, as this would suppose a lower level of competitiveness amongst the dogs. We must not forget, however, that every dog has individual characteristics, and its temperament, which is the result of genetic and life experiences, is more relevant than the gender! So regardless of the gender you choose, when you adopt a new pet, do not forget the importance of the education that you are going to give it.