Ask anyone who has owned a multitude of dogs which gender is better and you will surely receive a strong, opinionated answer. It seems people are drawn to males or females, with the occasional owner who has both-usually for breeding purposes. Is one superior as a home or field companion? No. Both males and females have pros and cons. For years I stayed away from males; my mother made me. Growing up we predominately owned females and I was led to believe they were softer, sweeter than males. However, the three dogs in my life are male-two hunting dogs and one house dog. Here are the similarities and differences.
Females tend (emphasis on tend) to be more interested in pleasing. My first two bird dogs were female Springer Spaniels. They would have walked across hot coals to make me happy. Not to say they were not stubborn and maddening-they were at times-but in general they aimed to please. As a youngster we raised Dobermans for the show ring and the females also tended to want to please. Females are not softer in the field-they actually have proving tougher than the males I’ve hunted, and anyone who tells you they are more loving than males has never met Quincy-my male English Setter who lays in lap at night. The downsides of females include two issues: size and biology. Males are genetically bigger. If a hunter needs a big, burly dog for rough cover males are a better choice. Of course, any female who is not spayed will cause headaches when she comes into season. Attracting neighborhood dogs, bleeding on carpet, even ruining a planned hunt all must be considered when weighing which gender to buy.
Males will be a bit more aloof. They will work for an owner who has built that relationship, but it must be built with males. Popular stories of male aggression are pretty much nonsense as aggression is much more closely linked to breed and environment than gender. I have actually found males more affectionate when a relationship has been establishes than females. Two of my current male dogs may be the most affectionate dogs I have owned in 37 years. Male downsides are also size and biology related. Males will be bigger. My smallest dog currently is a 68 pound Springer, followed by a 70 pound English Setter, and the 90 pound lab/retriever mix we rescued. In the field the size is great-not much can stop my Springer; in the house, however, two under 40 pound children can be bowled over by three playing male dogs. Males are also territorial-and they will mark that territory. If someone tells you that neutering will fix the issue-they are wrong. Males will urinate on walls, tires, carpet, shoes, etc. Add more than one dog and intensive training will be involved to stop repeated marking.
When deciding between males and females it is important to first know what you expect of the dog, then proceed with the gender choice that will help you and the dog be happy.