Do Male and Female Dogs Have Different Personalities?

male and female large dog playing in grassy area around trees

The short answer is: Yes. These differences can most clearly be seen between female dogs and intact (non-neutered) male dogs.

Male vs. female dog traits

small black and white fluffy dog jumping for joy


Male pups can be more playful, active and independent. On the other hand, they can also be more dominant, territorial and easily distracted than female dogs. Non-neutered male dogs often display acts of domination toward smaller dogs — and even humans! Starting dog obedience training early to help curb this behavior.

Female dogs tend to be easier to housebreak and train, and more connected with their owners — but in certain circumstances, they can also be more demanding of attention. Dominance and territorial behavior can also be seen in unspayed female dogs when they are in heat.

Call the dogs off.

Aggression can be a problem in any dog of any breed. However, it’s usually more noticeable in non-neutered males.

two small dogs playing together

Size of the dog

Female dogs are generally smaller in size and height than male dogs of the same breed — though not always.

Female dogs tend to reach maturity faster than their male counterparts, which can be a training advantage. If you’re planning to adopt a puppy, a female pup will often be easier to train than a male puppy of the same age.

Physical differences

Unlike male dogs, unspayed female dogs that have reached puberty will go into estrus, also known as heat, twice a year. During this cycle lasting anywhere from nine days to three weeks, female dogs produce bloody vaginal discharge, which attracts male dogs for breeding. It’s important to keep dogs in heat inside or away from male dogs — unless you want puppies.

So how does spaying or neutering affect male and female dog personalities?

If you don’t have plans to breed your dog, spaying or neutering them while young can not only prevent unexpected puppies, but also improve both male and female dog temperaments.

Hot diggity

Whether you plan to adopt a pup that is already spayed or neutered or it’s on your to-do list soon after adoption, here’s what to expect when it comes to temperament:

  • Spaying female dogs often leads to a mellower personality and fewer displays of aggression.
  • Neutered male dogs tend to be easier to train, calmer, less aggressive and less likely to wander off.

two dogs with happy personalities 

Every dog has their day.

So, does this mean that all non-neutered male dogs and unspayed female dogs will be aggressive, territorial and dominant? And that all female canines will be easier to train and housebreak?

And the
verdict is …

The short answer is: No. These are just generalized personality tendencies. Most dogs of either sex that are properly socialized as puppies — and given the proper training and care — can grow up to be wonderful, obedient, attentive, life-enhancing companions.

In fact, when you’re deciding what dog to adopt, factors such as breed, size, age, energy levels and grooming needs often play a bigger role in finding the perfect match. Our Dog Breed Selector is a great tool as you research before heading to the shelter, and our Dog Adoption Guide has plenty of pointers for your entire adoption journey.

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