The surprising truth about choosing between male and female pets
- by DR Roxanne Jones
So you’ve decided to get a pet but you haven’t made up your mind about gender. It seems everyone has an opinion on whether to go for a male or female. Some people believe male dogs and cats are more affectionate than females, while others swear that female dogs are more protective of their owners.
Well, take all that with a pinch of salt (or catnip!): it turns out, no study has proven that there are any specific traits unique to either sex. All the evidence is anecdotal!
What this means is that the sex of your pet comes down to personal preference - for the most part anyway. That said, here are some factors you may want to consider when making your decision.
7 Factors to consider when deciding between a male or a female pet
- Size. Generally speaking, male cats and dogs tend to be bigger than females. While this may not make as much of a difference with cats (though an extra kilo or two when they’re sleeping on your chest is nothing to sneeze at!), it’s something to bear in mind with dogs, especially if you’re going for a larger breed.
- Training. Female dogs tend to reach maturity faster than male dogs. This can make them easier to train. They’re not necessarily more intelligent than males; they’re just easier to train as youngsters because of the fact that they reach maturity sooner.
- Temperament. Again, there’s little evidence that proves any real material difference in temperament between male and female dogs, though some studies have found that female dogs may be moodier than males when things aren’t entirely to their liking. But it’s not always that simple…
- Breed of dog. The temperament of a dog may depend less on its gender than its breed. Female rottweilers, for example, have been found to have sweeter natures and be more obedient than males. That said, when it comes to golden retrievers for example, there’s no discernable difference between male and female temperament.
- Cats and spraying. Unneutered male cats tend to spray regularly, usually to mark their territory or to attract a mate. Unspayed female cats may spray when they’re in heat, but this is less common and far less regular. (Remember: you should always have your cats sterilised, regardless of sex).
- Personality. It’s not true that neutered male cats are more affectionate than females, or that spayed females are more independent. In cats, personality tends to develop and manifest very early, and it has nothing to do with gender. If you’re wanting an affectionate cat, go and visit the kitten you’re thinking of bringing home, and spend time with it to suss out its personality.
- Sentimentality. You may want a specific sex because you grew up with them, or because they elicit fond memories or feelings. Your own personal preference counts too!
The #1 most important factor when choosing between male and female pets
When it comes to choosing a pet, the most important thing - much more important than gender - is that you’re absolutely certain about the animal you’re bringing home. Once it joins your family, you have a responsibility to love and care for it indefinitely, regardless of what kind of personality it develops.
And remember: a pet’s nature - especially when it comes to dogs - depends largely on how it’s treated, socialised, integrated and cared for by its humans. Give your pet plenty of attention, love, exercise, company and comfort if you want to raise a happy, well-adjusted furkid!
Find more great insights into cat and dog health and behaviour on our blog, or visit our online shop to stock up on everything you need for your furbabies, from food and medication to toys and treats. Best of all? We deliver it all to your door.
Disclaimer: Always consult your vet for professional advice. The Zuki.co.za blog is provided as an educational tool and should not be used to diagnose illness or treat an animal.