Male or Female, Which Should I Choose?
by Terry Thistlethwaite
Anyone who has had a number of dogs and cats over the
years will smile knowingly when they hear this question.
The "typical" potential owner of a small dog or a cat wants a female,
and only a female, whereas the person who has had any degree
of experience with both typically wants a male. Why?
The simple answer is misinformation that is cured only by
It all started in the South about a century ago with not so
responsible hunters who would round up a group of stray dogs
and take them out to find raccoons. When the hunt was over, the
dogs who had remained with the group would be brought home
and fed. The hunters quickly noticed that it was the female dogs,
more often than the males, that would remain. This led to the
"old tale" that females make better pets. They stay home while
males explore. Over the years, that oversimplified and fully
erroneous conclusion was simply expanded to include cats.
Well, some might say, "I prefer females because male dogs lift
their leg and male cats spray". Technically, this is correct.
Realistically, however, it's pretty much irrelevant to suitability
as a pet. Male dogs will, it is true, use their urine as a means for
marking territory outside. So will females. The male dog lifts his
leg to urinate as a way of avoiding peeing on his leg. In other
words, he does this because he has a natural sense of cleanliness.
Adult male cats which are actively breeding will also use their urine to mark territory. Adult female cats will do likewise. Any cat breeder,
in fact, will tell you that their worst "sprayers" have most often been females.
Both male and female puppies and kittens can be housebroken with minimal knowledge and effort, as well as taught what areas they "may"
and "may not" use for marking outside. Dogs trained for assistance
work, in fact, are typically trained never to relieve themselves unless
a "release" word is given. Certainly every puppy is capable of
learning the simple rule of "appropriate areas".
Interesting note: Your male dog's urine will not burn your lawn or
plants whereas your female dog's urine will.
Female dogs and cats certainly have their charm, devotion, and
ability to make excellent pets. They also have their mood swings,
their grudges, and their incompatibilities -- It's just the nature of
being female. Male dogs and cats are much more likely to "go with
the flow", to shrug off offenses, and to be particularly protective of
their female owners. It's just the nature of being male.
Picture a cat dressed up in doll clothes and hanging over the arm
of a three year old, and I guarantee you that cat is a very contented
Many breeders, and even many rescuers will price their female pets
higher than their males, because they well know that the general
public obliviously believes the "old tale" about females making
better pets. The higher price for the females gives the unfairly
maligned males a more equal footing in the consideration process.
Cats and dogs make good pets. Ask anyone who has had
experience with numbers of animals, and the majority will tell you
that if they could have only one, they would absolutely choose
When deciding on an individual puppy or kitten, the fact is that
just about EVERY other consideration is more important than the
consideration of male or female. Once you determine the breed
of dog or cat that suits your lifestyle, find the breeder or rescuer
you feel comfortable working with, relate to the personality of the
individual puppy or kitten (or dog or cat) being offered, the "male
or female" consideration should reasonably have little bearing
on the final selection. Falling into the trap of believing the
erroneous tale that "females make better pets" and excluding from
consideration a whole population of wonderful animals who fully
meet all of your better thought out criteria may well leave you
missing out on the best dog or cat you might have ever known.