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“Which Australian Shepherd Puppy is Right for Me… Male or Female?”

Which Australian Shepherd puppy...male or female?
Which Australian Shepherd puppy...male or female?

I’m asked this question over and over by prospective Australian Shepherd puppy owners.

My answer? Well it usually starts out something like…

“In all my years of living with Aussies, I can truly say that the sex of a dog just doesn’t matter in a pet/companion.” (And now they really look confused…)

"What I mean is that it’s just a factor in a dog’s personality… a starting place. There are so many other factors to an individual puppy’s personality… how the newborn was raised, training, experiences, environment…”

Foolish me… thinking that answer should suffice…but they only look at me expectantly waiting for more. So I continue…

“I can offer a few generalizations about gender characteristics but please take them as just that – generalities - because each dog’s an individual with their own quirks for you to understand and work through. “

#1 SIZE & COAT…(Yes, I'm starting small but it's still a consideration)…

"Australian Shepherd females tend to be a bit smaller than males."

"Males tend to have more coat than females, especially around the neck and chest and a luxurious mane is beautiful. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all males need much more care – I’ve seen plenty of females with a heavy coat - or that his shedding hair will cover your sofa if you choose a male. It’s just a generality. "

[I can see it in their eyes… "OK…now answer the question! Which is better- male or female?”]

#2 PERSONALITY… What’s the difference between male and female when it comes to their personality?

Females…and remember this is all speaking generally…

"In my experience, females tend to take life more…seriously."

Yes, I've heard many people say - and actually believe- that girls are “sweeter”, "less trouble" and I'm sure that's their experience. But I can honestly say that most people are happy with either gender as pets.

"Sure, they can be silly and fun-loving, but there is a serious streak that runs deep in them. I suppose it comes from the very serious role of mothering - having, protecting and rearing pups."

"Females also seem to be a little more cunning than males when it comes to getting something they truly want- they will usually find a way whether it’s getting out of a fence or sneaking that morsel of steak off the untended plate."

In addition, unspayed females also tend to have mood swings, sometimes drastic. (Sound familiar?)


"Males, on the other hand, tend to have a sunnier outlook on everyday life. Picture Tom Hanks in “Big”... looks like a grown-up but he’s still a kid inside."

I happen to love my boy’s puppy-like playfulness that continues long after his muzzle has gone gray. This tends to be true especially if they are neutered around their first birthday. (Neutering also stops many of the ‘male’ behaviors that people tend to object to.) Without neutering, males tend to “lose their minds” occasionally around unaltered females - even a female that’s a mile away and through 3 fences (from experience).

#3 PEACE AT HOME... “What if I already have a dog at home? Should I choose a pup of the same sex or the opposite?”

In pet homes with more than one female dog, there may be frequent issues with challenging the pecking order and these disagreements escalate easily. These arguments tend to be more serious between two females rather than with two males. There’s an old saying with dog breeders, “males fight for points, females fight for keeps.” You get the idea…

I find that in homes that already have a dog, adding a dog of the opposite sex usually works out best. So, if you have a female now, add a male… If you have a male now, add a female.

If you just don’t want to choose the opposite sex, my second combination choice would be two neutered males and third choice would be two spayed females.

My last choice for a harmonious home would be two breedable (unspayed) females. But of course, there are exceptions to every rule. I’ve had females who lived in harmony all their lives with other females. I’ve also had two females who loved each other most of the time, just like sisters, until hormone levels started to rise and they became quite ‘catty’. At that point, there would usually be a knock-down, drag-out fight with blood-letting before I could get to them.

So, what about differences seen in neutered male vs female pets?

First, please note that many of the dog’s personality traits are influenced by the male/female hormones and so by neutering your pet, you will lessen this influence and the differences become less pronounced. Second, please consider that dogs neutered before they are fully developed may have more likelihood of developing health problems including cancer so I recommend that you not neuter your Mini Aussie until it is 12-18 months old. Back to the question...

Males, for instance, may never develop the need to hike the leg, hump, mark territory or chase females in heat and, in fact, many boys neutered at around 6 months old, continue to squat to pee. Females will not have a heat cycle every 6 months after spaying, so perhaps not be moody or messy. Males do tend to be a little bigger with a more masculine look especially if they go unneutered until maturity.

So... my final answer to the question of who makes a better pet companion… male or female…?

Generally...seriously...honestly...I kid you not... there’s no