Male vs. Female Labradors – What’s The Difference?
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So you’re thinking about getting a Labrador? You lucky thing! Labs make the ultimate canine buddies for pet parents who can keep up with their high energy levels. One big decision you need to make will be to pick the sex of your new dog.
So, male vs female labradors. Which one should you choose? Does it even make a difference? Well, yes… and no! Let’s delve into the details and find out more.
PAWSONALITY: Independent Girls vs. Cling-On Boys
One big difference between male and female Labradors is their level of independence. Picture this. You’ve had a long day out with your two dogs and it’s been full of action and adventure. You’ll find that your female labrador will take herself off to bed when she’s ready to snooze. Your male Lab, on the other hand, will stick right by you even if he is clearly wiped out. Yes, he would be better off snoozing on his own bed but he can’t bear to be away from you for a millisecond!
Think about how these two dog personalities would fit with your own. Do you like a bit of time to yourself every now and then? If so, a female Lab maybe your best option. Are you a very touchy-feely person who likes company and cuddles all day long? Then you may be happiest with a male labrador in your life.
This is not to say that female dogs are unaffectionate. In fact, pretty much all Labs are as soft as marshmallows. It’s just that girls usually need a bit more of their own space. Their independent nature may also help them cope better at being left home alone. In 2008, an Australian study found that female dogs are less likely to suffer from separation anxiety than male dogs.
TRAINING: Who’s Top of the Class?
Sorry boy Labs, it’s actually the girls who come out on top in this area. There’s a wide consensus among Lab owners that female puppies pick things up much faster during early training. This is mainly due to the smaller females reaching maturity a little quicker than their bros.
All Labs are smart though. Our experience with this breed makes us wonder if their obsession with food is the main reason they pay such close attention to puppy classes. They always have their eyes on the prize – the treats!
BEHAVIOR: Girly Girls vs. Boisterous Boys
You may or may not agree that gender stereotypes apply to us humans, but one thing is for certain – they definitely don’t apply to dogs! Both are equally gross (yet somehow still adorable).
Your female Labrador is just as likely as a male to indulge in farting, burping, rolling in someone else’s poop, eating their own poop, eating their own vomit, humping someone’s leg (yes, girls can hump too!) and many other less delightful activities.
If you are a neat freak then Labs of either gender may not be for you. Both sexes share the typical Labrador passion for water and mud and both will shed massive amounts of hair around your home.
ENERGY: Which Sex is Calmer?
There’s no big difference in energy levels between the sexes. The biggest factor here tends to be the breeding lines of your new pup. Working dog lines tend to be leaner and much more energetic, whereas show Labrador lines produce calmer, stockier individuals.
Having said that, all Labs are high energy compared to many other breeds. In their early years, you’ll need to get them outdoors for long walks every single day, no matter the weather is. Otherwise, you’ll have a big, furry, bouncing ball of energy causing havoc in your home!
FAMILY MATTERS: Is a Male or Female Lab Better with Kids?
Labs of both sexes can make super companions for your kids. You’ll still need to supervise interactions though, just as you would with any dog.
Female dogs often have a strong mothering instinct towards the younger members of the family. This can lead them to share close bonds with your children. On the other hand, a female dog’s more independent nature may cause issues if your child is continually following them around and doesn’t give them any peace. Problems can be nipped in the bud by teaching your kids not to bother your dog when she is in need of a time out.
Male dogs will likely lap up all the attention a kid can give them, and then some. Especially if your kid learns to throw a ball!
What About Rough Play with Labs?
Labs of both genders can be excitable and super clumsy, especially with their big wagging tails. Still, it’s very unlikely they’ll ever cause harm intentionally. Training your puppy from the start about acceptable ways to play is essential.
When teaching your pup not to mouth, you’ll have a head start with Labs. By nature, they have a feathery soft bite. Gentle mouthing was bred into Labradors so they could retrieve game birds without damaging them.
UNNEUTERED LABRADORS: What to Expect
The reality of living with an unneutered male or female dog may be more than most new pet owners can handle. If you are holding off from neutering because it seems a mean thing to do to your best bud, it’s worth stepping back a moment to see the bigger picture.
Every year in the US, 2.7 million unwanted dogs and cats are killed because homes can’t be found for them. Do you really want to add to those numbers by risking unwanted pregnancies? Neutering may not be pleasant, but it really is the lesser of two evils.
If you are really sure about keeping your male Lab intact, you will have to deal with the following:
- LOTS of humping (you, other dogs, the couch, toys, the cat. You name it, he’ll try and hump it!)
- Scent marking (male dogs spray their territory with urine)
- Your dog wandering off after females in heat whenever the opportunity arises
- More dominant personality traits
If you decide not to neuter your female Lab you should at least plan ahead for the following:
- Your dog going into heat twice a year. Bitches in heat produce a bloody vaginal fluid and can experience bouts of irritability
- The risk of unplanned litters (looking after newborn puppies until they are ready for new homes is a HUGE amount of work)
- A greater risk of canine mammary cancer
Going to the V.E.T. to get F.I.X.E.D
Neutering your dog means you’ll avoid or drastically reduce most of the problem behaviors and scenarios we listed above. It should also make your male dog less likely to show aggression or guard food and possessions.
As for female dogs, early spaying can also extend their lifespan.
The Final Verdict
If you are neutering your pet, then the difference between sexes is really pretty small. Whatever type of Lab you get, whether it be an older rescue boy or a cute young female puppy, you’re sure to find an amazing best friend.
And hey, if you can’t decide between a boy or a girl, why not get both?
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are Labs so playful?
The ancestors of modern-day Labradors lived in fishing villages on the coastline of Newfoundland. These incredible dogs worked all day long in freezing waters, swimming out to retrieve stray fish, ropes or whatever else their master wanted. All that time spent doggy paddling in rough seas created a super fit and energetic dog. It’s these traits that make our pet Labs seem a bit loopy and hyperactive. Labradors have bottomless reserves of energy when it comes to having fun!
Is it cheaper to neuter a male or female dog?
Spaying a female is usually more expensive. The procedure involves removing your dog’s uterus and is a lot more invasive than the operation to remove a male dog’s testes. Female neutering operations take longer, and your dog will need a more extended recovery period.
What is a female dog called?
A female dog is known as a ‘bitch’. If you are talking about a female dog in relation to her puppies, she is known as their ‘dam’.