Boy or girl? If you are considering adding a dog to your home sweet home, one of the main decisions involves deciding which sex is best. Several myths abound on the behavior of male dogs, and it's worth shedding some light on them to obtain a clearer understanding on boyish dog behavior. Afterward, you can finally decide if you want to invest in that blue or pink collar.
As a male puppy matures, hormones will start playing a role in altering behavior. In some dogs, hormonal changes may cause them to become aggressive toward other dogs as they start competing for a mate. Neutering at this point will only change behaviors influenced by male hormones. It is estimated that aggressive behavior manifested towards other male dogs is eliminated in 60 percent of neutered dogs, according to veterinarian Wendy C. Brooks.
Roaming in search of a mate brings thoughts of romantic adventures such as those portrayed in the cartoon "Lady and the Tramp." However, in real life, roaming can be a dangerous behavior with so many perils lurking in the outside world. Male dogs do tend to roam if they can sense a female in heat and some can turn into quite talented Houdinis. However, neutering will reduce the chances of roaming in 90 percent of male dogs, according to veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman.
You may be wondering which sex will excel in the obedience ring. While no generalizations can be made on which sex is smarter, there are some considerations to keep in mind. Male dogs tend to mature slower compared to females, which may seem to give the female dog a head start when it comes to using the brain. However, once males catch up, there should be no major distinction among the two. Keep in mind though that an intact male dog may be stubborn at times and may lose his focus as he matures and gets a whiff from that French poodle in heat across the road.
As your puppy blooms into an adolescent, he will discover urine marking. This typical leg lifting behavior used to dribble urine on various surfaces is how dogs delineate their territory; in the same way you would erect a fence to define your property lines. This behavior, however, is not unique to intact males only; some female dogs mark and some neutered dogs do it, too. While lamp posts, fire hydrants and bushes are the common victims of doggie "golden showers," the behavior becomes annoying when your dog targets your car's tires or household furniture. Neutering puts an end to urine marking in about 60 percent of dogs, Dodman says.
As your male dog will mature, testosterone levels will start to climb leading to "manly behaviors." At about 5 months of age, Scruffy may start learning the ABC's of mounting and humping behavior. Male dogs will hump, and often the victims of such actions are stuffed animals, pillows and the dreaded legs of your poor guests. However, keep in mind that neutering will diminish mounting behaviors in 67 percent of males, notes Dodman.
While neutering may reduce certain behaviors, if you decide to leave your male intact, the differences between male and female dog behavior will be more distinct. You may therefore see more "manly" behaviors mentioned above such leg-lifting, roaming and aggression. The hormone testosterone causes dogs to react more intensely, quicker and for a longer time period because it acts as a behavior modulator, according to the American Kennel Club Health Foundation. This may explain why intact males are 2.6 times more likely to bite than neutered dogs.
However, when it comes to deciding between a male or female dog, no generalizations can be made. Some male dogs may be as sweet as a cupcake while some females may be quite a challenge. It all ultimately boils down to individual temperament, breed and the dog's upbringing.
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images