Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails (or why boys are icky)

Posted on 11/03/09 62 Comments

Okay I knew once I wrote the “gold bullion comment” last week, that I would have to address my preference for selecting females over male puppies. Let me preface this by saying three of the rescue dogs I have taken, trained and re-homed over the years, were males (they all lived with me for 3 or more months). Buzz is a male and I do love him to pieces. However the main reason I considered taking a male puppy all those years ago, was for the experience as a professional dog trainer. I felt I needed to understand the males the way I did the females in order to help their owners. I think that is whole lot-o-cow feathers now, I mean they are all dogs after all, what the heck, but I am glad I decided to “try” a boy, otherwise there would be no Buzzy.  

To round out my experiences John has owned two male dogs over the time we have been together, so I do have some

Innocent looking DeCaff learning a new skill set.
Innocent looking DeCaff, at 7 weeks, learning a new skill set.

balance to my opinion, but just remember what I am about to write is just that, opinion! It may have been skewed a bit since growing up we had a female dog. I do not have scientific evidence for what I am about to say. It is just what I have observed in working with my own and the hundreds of male dogs my students have brought to me over the years.

Honestly I think our preferences of males vs females is a chemical thing within each of us. Laura Derrett, Ann Braue, Linda Mecklenburg amoung many others, all strongly prefer working with male dogs. I think it is the same reason why people have breed preferences. Why do I love Jack Russell Terriers, Bulldogs and Afghan Hounds? Why does anyone for that matter? I think there is something intangible and inherent about each of us, that makes up the why and that is what makes us all different.

First there is the physically differences, although I love the look of a big powerful male I don’t care for the extra dangling bits that spoils the view when you look at one . . . and don’t get me started about trying to give a pre-workout massage to a male dog eeeewwww! Then there is the “extra” training you have to do for the male that wants to “mark” inside  and outside your home and especially your friends homes:).

Clever little DeCaff putting that new skill set to good use.
Clever little DeCaff putting her new skill into service (in the refrigerator:)).

As far as training goes, the things that most people adore about working with a male dogs are the same things I find incredibly annoying. My observation, be it right or wrong, is that when a male learns something it locks in the value and the dog is happy to do it the same way for you each time he is asked. So once the male dogs learns something you are good to go, however it takes them much longer to learn it in the first place. The downside of that is even though female dogs might learn something faster, they also unlearn it and start doing it their own way just as fast! In other words the female dog may experiment more and try to change what you have already trained. Females I find to be problem solvers.

Yes bitches may be bitchy, but they match up with me well:). Yes females can tend be more emotional, getting worried if you screw up your training (not Feature however, sometimes I wonder about her . . . ). However, I like a soft dog, it helps me make sure I don’t screw up my training!

Often males are rammy, do something first then think about it later. A male will run through a brick wall every time you ask, a female may do it once but then figure out a better solution. Females are just so clever. They crack me up.

You know I may . . . someday . . . take another male puppy. If I looked at a litter and my heart skipped a beat because of a special little boy, it could happen . . .  wait, wait, let me check . . . nope, no pigs flying out of my butt today so . . .  not today but someday . . .  maybe.

What about all of you that have male dogs, com’on stick up for them, why do you prefer the male puppies?  I asked my friend Ann Braue to give her thoughts (just to balance things out), so looks like you guys are going to get yet another guest blogger here! 

Today I am grateful for the uniqueness that allows two people to see completely different things while looking at the same puppy.


  1. Carol says:
    Monday, November 30, 2009 at 12:53pm

    I find this discussion fascinating, in part because I haven’t really seen the sex-linked personality traits that it seems like almost everyone else here has. My husband and I have had both males and females of various breeds and mixes of breeds who are soft and sensitive and dogs of both sexes who are hard-headed and pushy. In both sexes we’ve had dogs who are quick to try new things and others who are more methodical, dogs who are cuddly and dogs who are aloof. I’m not saying there aren’t differences, but I wonder if to some extent these perceptions arise from our own projections based on expected human gender traits. If a female dog isn’t doing what we want her to, do we say it’s because she’s moody and stubborn, but if a male exhibits the exact same behavior, do we say it’s because he’s dense or goofy? Also, how much do we shape our dogs’ behavior based on how we think boys or girls Should act?


  2. Kat L says:
    Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 3:50pm

    As with almost everything in life, it depends on the individual view point. If girls were the way to go, there would be very few boys and vise versa. I’m glad for the variety. Personality is very important to me and I have found over the years, boy dogs bind more closely to my heart than girl dogs. For kids (human) it’s the other way around. I ‘get’ boy dogs better.

    Like many others, I’ve lived with both all my life and find, for me, that boys are best. I agree that girls get the game more quickly and are off and running sooner. I also agree that most girls are more creative and clever. They also seem more tempermental and like everything to be on their terms. They seek approval and interaction but when they feel like it and sulk and hold a grudge longer.

    I find boy dogs to be more stable. They care less about how it’s done and more about the fact that it gets to be done. They are happy to do it any way as long as it’s with you and they get to laugh. I don’t think they are not clever but they don’t seem to care if their light is under a bushel or shining for all to see.

    I’ve always chosen the dog with the soul that touches mine. I look back over the years and see that the dogs dearest to me were the boys… they sure do break your heart, sigh.


  3. Tiffany Z says:
    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 8:12am

    I most definitely a boy dog person, so much so that my most recent pup’s breeder even picked up on it despite me telling her I was neutral on gender preference. I have had females before (still do) and my childhood dog was even female, but I still prefer males.

    I find females to be too emotional. My boys will shake off something traumatic and be right back to normal in no time, whereas my girls take a very loooong time to recover. My boys are always ready to work and love attention any time, as opposed to my girls who will only work well when they want to and only want attention on their terms. It should be noted I have trained everyone the same way. Also, from my experience, girls hold grudges and boys don’t.

    All that being said, I do agree that girls tend to be more clever and precise. One of my Pembroke girls is very much a perfectionist.

    While my next dog will likely be a bitch, it’s only for breeding purposes. Hard to get a litter and further a breeding program with only boys :P!


  4. Mike says:
    Friday, November 6, 2009 at 11:40am

    3 males, 2 females. I like the boys, but have a special connection to the girls. One extremely hard, and the other….the total opposite. Both gifts to our lives.


  5. Linda says:
    Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 10:59am

    With the exception of one Collie, I’ve always had males and just seem to mesh better with males. I’m in line for a litter right now that the boys have already been spoken for. I’m trying real hard to talk myself into a female,but all these replies are making my efforts even harder……. I feel like I need to branch out, but that boy bond has always been so strong and my two boys chosen for performance potential have been great workers. Gee – making me thing a lot.


  6. Chantal says:
    Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 2:09pm

    Well, I have 2 girls and 2 boys. I am doing agility with one of each and I have a case of the boy running through a brick wall over and over again and asking for more and the female being more timid and cautious. They are both BCs. Eventhough my male, who was my first dog, was very frustrating to learn agility with, I absolutely adore his enthusiasm and his “lets go” attitude, he does everything with the biggest, goofiest smile on his face. Wouldn’t change him for the world.
    As for my female, the frustration was trying to get more courage into her. Finally I found the button but it is just not the same…. but running her is an entirely different experience that I wouldn’t want to miss….. I have to also admit that my boy is from a breeder and got him as a puppy, the little girl was an abandoned 1 year-old when I resued her…. that, I guess enters in the mix.
    So I would say, VIVE LA DIFFÉRENCE!!!…


  7. Dianne says:
    Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 10:52am

    Hm-m-m, interesting post. For my breed, the German shepherd dog, I do prefer males as their appearance is more appealing; larger, large heads and jaw bones. In the sport of SchH certainly males are preferred for their power and attitude. Although there are many great female SchH dogs, just look at our Canadian World Team. I find working with males is easier for me, as they don’t really get upset about too much, they are silly and goofy, and generally not too sensitive. That being said, all of my sport dogs have been males, including my agility dogs. Interestingly, my next agility dog is likely to be a border collie, and I insist on getting a female, as I seem to prefer them (from the spectator spot) for agility. I do want at some point a female GSD for SchH too, but it will have to be a very impressive female.


  8. Anna Larsson says:
    Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 4:16am

    There´s an old saying “You keep bitches to produce new males” 🙂


  9. Anna Larsson says:
    Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 4:11am

    Well, I can be moody, emotional, worried and bitchy all by myself, I don´t need my dogs to be that for me! 🙂 That´s why I prefer males! 🙂 I´ve had bitches too but I´ve come to the conclusion that when I see a litter, I seldom fall for any of the females.

    I do agility with my border collies but above all we compete in sheepherding trials and when it comes to real work situations I truely prefer males. Bitches always seems to be in heat or just out of it or moody for any other reason (and the sheep just cant care less about why!) and I don´t feel they got the same stamina and power when it comes to move herds as the males. Of course there are exceptions but I think it´s not too often you`ll see a bitch with equal amount of power and ability to do hard work with heavy sheep. A male is always there when you need him, not leavning until the job is done!

    The description of males as slower learners and more stupid… I don´t know, to me that sounds more like the males in some breeds rather than just males. I do prefer bitches in some breeds, rottweiler is one (where I think the males fit your description!) but in border collies… NO, absolutely not! But I got working ISDS-border collies, I don´t know about the show borders or agility breeders dogs. Maybe they´ve turned stupid!? 🙂

    For a female border collie pup to enter my house, she´d need to be something extra, show a lot of power compare to the rest of her litter and absolutely no tendency to sulk or to be moody. Like I said, it´s enough with one moody, bitchy induvidual in the house! 🙂


  10. Sara Reusche says:
    Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 4:04am

    One of my favorite sayings, told to me by another dog trainer, “If you want a good dog, get a male. If you want a great dog, get a female and cross your fingers.”

    For me, the consideration is taken out of it by the reality of my current pack. Right now I have a very bitchy dog-selective female. I know from fostering that, while having another female around is possible, it is not as pleasant and involves much more management for me. I can introduce the other female appropriately and the girls may be able to be loose together when I’m actively supervising, but I will have to be more careful. And I will have to be more careful for another 8-12 years, since my bitchy girl is only 4 years old. So, my next dog will likely be a very carefully selected boy (and most probably will be an adult rescue, who I have fostered and know well).

    I love training the girls, but there’s also something to be said for the more easy-going and goofy boys.


  11. Amanda says:
    Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 1:49am

    I very much tend to lean towards females. I love the males goofy sense of humour, but my young female is the goofiest dog of them all! She is the biggest clown!


  12. Amanda says:
    Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 1:49am

    I very much tend to lean towards females. I love the males goofy sense of humour, but my young female is the goofiest dog of them all! She is the biggest clown!


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