Shall I get a dog or a bitch?
Whether to get a male or female dog is one of those questions that owners can agonize over. The situation can also be complicated by the number of dogs you own, as the wrong mix, or balance of sexes, can sometimes lead to a higher risk of conflict between the individuals concerned.
Let’s start with male dogs. Popular perceptions – or should I say prejudices – about male dogs are that, compared to bitches, they:
Are generally more disobedient and likely to take off.
Are more aggressive and more likely to start fights with other dogs or get attacked by them.
Have more undesirable habits such as mounting behaviour or licking urine.
The above can often be true and yet, at the same time, some of the most well-behaved, superbly trained and lovely natured dogs I’ve ever known have been entire males. The extent to which better styles of training, and all-round handling, can improve the behaviour of male dogs is also routinely overlooked.
In contrast to male dogs, bitches can appear to have many assets. They are generally more amenable to training, more focused on their owners, more tolerant of young children and less inclined to want to investigate or size up every dog they spot when they are out.
It is wrong, however, to assume that they will always be easier or better behaved companions than male dogs because bitches, too, can at times be stroppy or disobedient. Some can also be extremely aggressive, with bitch-to-bitch aggression – most notably among female dogs who live together – being one of the commonest and nastiest types around.
Bitches can also have some less desirable habits of their own. They can be far worse scavengers than male dogs and more prone to coprophagia (or faeces eating). They can also suffer more extreme phobic behaviours, particularly after spaying.
If they are not spayed then, apart from heats, they can start digging holes in sofas or floors, hoarding and ‘nursing’ toys and generally become more moody and/or snappy around the ‘pseudo pregnancy’ phase that follows two to three months after them.
The neutering/spaying factor