Do you have a clear preference – male or female?

I talk with some people who are convinced that males are better than females. Others are convinced of the opposite. Smarter, more loving, more loyal, easier to live with, etc. Some always get one gender over the other because they believe that gender better fits the criteria most important to them.

Out of curiosity, I asked some of my dog trainer friends if they have a clear preference when bringing home a new dog. Male or female? Some were clearly in the “always a male” camp. Some were clearly in the “always a female” camp. Some based their decision on the dog or dogs currently in the home and which is the best match for them. Others had other ways to determine which choice to make.

There is not much in the way of research. So far, I have not seen any research to really give us any definitive answers or even some tentative answers. Are males smarter or are females? Are males more biddable or are females? Are males more loyal? Are females moodier? You'll read all kinds of claims and you will meet some people who absolutely are convinced of something or other. But there is really no proof of any of it at this point.

So, how do you choose? Well, there are some things we do know.

Males tend to be larger than females. Each dog is an individual and looking at the parents (if you know who they are) will give you the best idea of how big a puppy will grow to be.

But yes, males on average are definitely larger than females. If you want a dog on the smaller side, then a female will be your better bet.

Males tend to be known for marking behavior. Some prefer females since they don't mark. Oops, hate to break it to you, but that is not entirely true. Yes, males do mark. But many of them do not.

And neutered males can still mark too, contrary to what someone might try to tell you. Neutering does not eliminate that behavior.

But I have known plenty of female dogs who mark as well. Spayed or not. It's just not quite as obvious since they generally do not lift their leg to do so (but there are always exceptions).

If you are choosing one based on the gender being smarter or more affectionate or more loyal, or what-have-you, don't be too quick to judge. I have not found that to be true. I see dogs of both genders who are very smart, very affectionate, very loyal, very whatever-you-want.

Now, if you do just prefer males or females, that's fine! Go with your preference. But don't be too quick to make assumptions. You might be limiting your options for no real reason!

If you have another dog at home already, then do consider carefully if your dog would do better with one or the other. Some get along with everyone. Some have trouble getting along with anyone.

Statistically speaking, the dogs in a household most likely to NOT get along are similar age and same gender. So, if you are looking for the best bet numbers-wise, then if you have a female, you'd be better off adding a male. Though you also should consider the breed of dogs, their ages and their individual personalities.

Certain breeds are going to be more of an issue than others when it comes to the potential for aggression/fighting. For example, I would be much more cautious in my decision if I had breeds that tend to have more aggression issues than a breed who generally gets along well with everyone. Do your research!

Personally, we typically get a female if we already have a male and vice versa. Going with the statistics, we choose the option that gives us the best shot at our household dogs all living peacefully together – in addition to all we do to ensure that already.

However, we also look at each situation and are open to the right DOG regardless of gender.

Another consideration when choosing is to determine when you plan to spay or neuter. If you do so around six months, then you won't need to worry about going through heat cycles or the possibility of your dog getting pregnant or impregnating someone else's dog.

However, more and more, research is showing the benefits of holding off on spay/neuter while your dog is still growing so we don't impact the hormones before the growth plates are closed.

If you decide to wait, as more of us are doing, then a girl means you will have to deal with heat cycles until she gets spayed.

With a boy, you just have to make sure you keep him under control and not give him chances to run loose and engage with any females in heat.