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Does the Gender of Your Dog Make a Difference In Temperament?

Updated on January 9, 2015


Taz, a resourceful and independent Female Chihuahua mix
Taz, a resourceful and independent Female Chihuahua mix | Source

My First Dog

I got my first dog, actually I shared her with my brother, when I was 5. She was an adorable tiny thing, half chihuahua and half something else small. I was instantly in love. So was everyone else in the house. I had no other pet dog to compare her too at that time, and little did I know that I would spend most of my working life in Veterinary Clinics and Animal Shelters, bathing, grooming, cleaning cages, handling animals and even giving the occasional vaccine. But I learned much more from owning my own dogs, and rehabilitating a stream of strays that seemed to pour through my house, get socialized, trained, checked for diseases, healed vaccinated, groomed and moved on to new posh homes. I know I loved that little first dog of my own even better because she was a girl. Girls of five love other girls things, and boys love other boy things, it seems. How much does that carry on into adulthood? How much do we continue to feel that we relate better to species of our own gender? Or is it something different than that? Do the actual hormones of the dog, the actual genetic differences between the male dog's brain and the female dog's brain make them bond and react differently to us, just as they react differently to each other. This is a question I started asking myself after my husband and I rescued our silky terrier "Rico" from the pound. The last thing we needed was another dog, the last place we needed to be was walking down the corridors of an animal shelter, but something about Rico's eyes were not to be denied. He was skinny and matted and his Left Rear leg could not bear weight, but he stared at us with some kind of hope that defied all odds, and we took him home. His psychological recovery over the past two years has often left me wondering if there is a difference between the way Male dogs perceive the world, or is it just him.

PeeWee Mouseman

PeeWee Male Chihuahua, Would Prefer to Cuddle 24/7
PeeWee Male Chihuahua, Would Prefer to Cuddle 24/7 | Source

I Think There Is a Difference, But It's All Good

So Basically, Rico slowly healed. His leg healed, but after two, almost three years, he still remembers the injury and insists that I handle it with kid gloves, and I do. He is very afraid of noise, so the fourth of July for me is spent on the bed surrounded by quivering dogs, with Rico sprawled, panting across my lap. He has become, ever so slowly, very very attached to me, as if he is MY caretaker, and I can't imagine a greater loyalty. He follows me literally everywhere I go no matter what time of the day or night it is and no matter how short of a distance or how far. I have previously had almost all female dogs before, except for PeeWee, the chihuahua, who is also very different from the females, and a dog named Max, who I got in high school (my boyfriend gave him to me) just before college. It was terribly tragic about Max. He wouldn't let anyone else pet him if I weren't there. I tried to arrange to get an apartment that allowed dogs for my freshman year, but my parents wouldn't hear of it. When I went off to school, and Max and I were no longer together, he hid behind the washer and dryer in the garage and refused to eat. Or come out for anyone else. My mother tried to pull him out by his collar, but he bit her. My dad informed me that Max had to be euthanized for fear of his having rabies, but he had had his rabies shot like clockwork every year. It was just a tragedy. From being around so many dogs of both genders, I have finally decided that Male dogs may take longer to bond if you don't raise them from puppies, but when they bond they bond hard and bond for life. They will do anything for you. That is not to say that females are any less wonderful . Female dogs will love you too, and protect you, and stay by your side and bond with you ever so much, and do incredible things to keep you company and keep you happy. They are just vaguely different sides of the same coin. And if you have two dogs. most experts say you should have one of each gender, to keep fighting down. But you know what you can do with your experts.

dog gender poll

Which gender of Dog do you feel bonds best with you

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a silky terrier video


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    • helenstuart profile image

      Helen Stuart 4 months ago from Deep in the Heart of Texas

      There must be a lot of those dogs in Texas. "ours" was named Buster. He was HUGE I think half boxer and half great dane. He wasn't happy unless I was literally staring at him, even if he was taking a nap. I really loved him. He came up with a traveling Buddy, a tiny wiry haired chihuahua. Buster must have been loved by a lot of people. I was trying to do other things besides stare lovingly at buster all day, and so he would constantly squeeze out the dog door and return home with a different collar on. We got quite a collection. It was good that everyone loved Buster. We kept making the fences more and more fool proof, just to see him sail over them like a buck deer, no challenge. I really loved him and he just came back less and less often. I have insomnia, so some mornings, I would find him waiting for me in the dark of the early mornings and I would just sit down and hug him and he would wrestle with his little chihuahua friend, and as soon as I forgot and took my eyes off of him I would look again, and he'd be gone. I'm not Catholic, but I do invoke St. Francis of Asisi sometimes when I hear of a lost animal. I don't think he's lost, I just think one of those people who put a collar on him was able to engage him finally. He was a smart dog, and a sweet dog. When I hear a very deep bark I still call out his name.

    • shanmarie profile image

      shanmarie 4 months ago

      Your story reminds me of a dog we once rescued from a shelter. I went with my heart set on a puppy, but my husband saw this adult husky mix and the dog immediately locked eyes with us. Every time I walked by, he gave the saddest eyes and an expression that just begged to be taken home. And that's how we ended up with an escape artist who could even get out of the Boise when we weren't home, never stayed on a chain or inside a fence, and got us in trouble with the city. He had to go love with people equipped to handle his independent but fiercely loving nature. New neighbors moved in and they were scared of him. Too bad because he guarded the entire block, or so he thought.

    • helenstuart profile image

      Helen Stuart 3 years ago from Deep in the Heart of Texas

      I always try to explain the reason for the fireworks for my dogs but I find they are just staring at me as I am ranting on about the Birth of America. They don't care.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hi Helen, you are obviously a dog lover, we have always had dogs, male and female, but seem to be as loyal and friendly as each other, the latest ones I mean, but yes fireworks drove them both under the table till they stopped!

    • helenstuart profile image

      Helen Stuart 3 years ago from Deep in the Heart of Texas

      Thank You for commenting yohewriter. Our dogs are definitely our family now. They seem to look to us for all their entertainment. I got them a bunch of dog toys for after-Christmas, and you'd think they had never played with them before. I've seen a lot more playing between the dogs now. They thought they were all humans

    • yohewriter profile image

      Timothy Yohe 3 years ago from St. Louis

      Hi Helen! I see that you have a big heart with animals. My wife and I adopted two stray dogs a couple years ago and, although they can drive us crazy, they are both good dogs with a lot of loyalty. I totally get the fireworks fear, our dogs hide anywhere they can on the 4th of July. Thank you for sharing!