Is It Better To Have 2 Female Dogs Or A Male And Female?

Having more than one dog can be a wonderful experience. However, it’s important to consider the gender mix of your dogs when adding a new dog to your household. The gender combination can impact the dogs’ relationships and interactions. There are pros and cons to having two females versus a male and female that should be weighed when deciding.

On one hand, opposite sex dog pairings often get along well, avoiding problematic same-sex aggression. But two females may be less likely to have conflicts over resources like food, beds, and toys. Male and female pairings face their own specific challenges in relation to hormones and mating behaviors.

This article will provide an overview of the key considerations around having two female dogs compared to a male and female. Looking at factors like spay/neuter status, aggression, marking, mood, activity levels, training, health, and costs can help determine the best gender mix for your multi-dog household.

Spaying/Neutering Considerations

There are several important considerations when deciding whether to spay or neuter dogs. Spaying female dogs (removing the ovaries and uterus) provides health benefits like preventing uterine infections and eliminating the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer (https://www.goingmuttspetservices.com/blog/6crasx0rv5keswzsrhnxrn459k6obm). Spaying may reduce the risk of mammary tumors as well. Neutering male dogs (removing the testes) also provides health benefits like preventing testicular cancer and some prostate issues.

Spaying and neutering can reduce undesirable behaviors influenced by hormones like roaming, marking territory, and aggression. However, the age of spaying or neutering can impact long-term behavior. Early spaying or neutering may increase fearful/anxious behaviors while waiting until maturity around 1-2 years may reduce these risks (https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/resource/pros-and-cons-spaying-or-neutering-your-dog-or-cat-early-age). Overall, the health and behavioral impacts should be weighed when deciding on spaying or neutering.

Same-Sex Aggression

Female-female aggression between dogs in the same household is unfortunately quite common. According to one source, female dogs are more likely to fight with each other than male-female or male-male dog pairings. The reasons for this include:

Female dogs tend to be more territorial and dominant. Having two unspayed females together increases the risk of fighting due to hormonal changes and competition.

Female dogs may fight over resources like food, toys, beds, or attention from the owner. They may also fight to determine the “alpha” dog in a household.

Physical fights between female dogs trying to establish dominance can sometimes escalate into serious injury or even death if the dogs are not separated.

Another source notes that rivalry between female dogs is very serious and often has a basis in establishing dominance and breeding rights. They recommend spaying female dogs to reduce aggression risks.

For these reasons, special care should be taken when housing two female dogs together, especially if they are unspayed. Proper training, supervision, and spaying can help reduce risks.

Marking Behaviors

Male dogs are more likely to mark territory with urine than female dogs. Unneutered male dogs are especially prone to marking behaviors as they reach sexual maturity around 6-9 months old (Source). Marking is triggered by hormonal changes as male dogs communicate their availability for breeding. Neutering can significantly reduce marking, but it may not completely stop the behavior if it is a learned habit.

Marking is when a dog deposits small amounts of urine on vertical surfaces like walls, furniture, and other objects. It is different from spraying, which is a larger volume directed at horizontal surfaces. Spraying risks are higher with unneutered males due to hormonal influences. Neutering before 6 months of age can greatly reduce the risk of spraying developing (Source).

If marking develops in a male dog, neutering may reduce but not eliminate the behavior. Additional training is often needed to fully curb indoor marking and reinforce going potty outdoors. Limiting access to previous marking locations and using odor neutralizers can also help reduce recurrences inside the home.

Hormones and Mood

A female dog’s heat cycle, controlled by hormones like estrogen, involves several stages that can impact her mood and behavior. When a female dog first goes into heat, which usually happens between 6-24 months of age, she enters the proestrus phase (source). During this stage that lasts 5-9 days, estrogen levels rise and the dog’s vulva swells as her body prepares for mating. The dog’s behavior may change as well – she may seem restless, have a reduced appetite, and urinate more frequently (source).

The next phase, estrus, is when the female dog can become pregnant. This phase lasts anywhere from 3-21 days. During this time, estrogen levels peak and progesterone levels rise, causing discharge from the vulva and making the dog attractive to male dogs. The female dog’s behavior is focused on mating – she may try escaping the home, vocalize more, and be less tolerant of other female dogs (source).

Male dogs have testosterone driving their behavior and mood. Intact male dogs tend to be more territorial, aggressive, and reactive due to this hormone (source). Neutering male dogs before sexual maturity reduces aggression, mounting, roaming, and marking behaviors.

Activity Levels

When it comes to energy levels, male and female dogs often differ. According to Rover, male dogs tend to have higher energy levels compared to females. They state that male dogs “require more physical and mental stimulation” and are often more active. This high energy can be especially noticeable in young male puppies who love to play and explore. Female dogs, while still requiring daily exercise, often have lower energy levels and are less demanding of constant activity.

One reason cited for this difference is testosterone, which can increase male dogs’ energy and tendency to roam. Spaying or neutering can help minimize some of these traits. Another factor is size. Since male dogs are often larger than females, they sometimes require more exercise to expend their energy. According to For the Pet, female dogs “tend to be smaller and less inclined to roam.” Their typically smaller frames require less activity to stay fit and healthy.

Of course, every dog is an individual. While gender trends exist, activity levels ultimately depend on your individual pup’s personality, age, breed, and other factors. However, male dogs do tend to be higher energy, especially intact males. So if you lead an active lifestyle and want an energetic companion, a male dog could be a great fit.

Training

Some key differences between male and female dogs when it comes to trainability include:

  • Female dogs tend to be easier to housebreak according to the ASPCA, likely due to females being more aware of their surroundings and interactions at a younger age (source).
  • Female dogs mature faster than males mentally, which can make training more effective at a younger age (Pedigree, 2023).
  • Females often aim to please their owners more and therefore can be more attentive and eager to learn (source).
  • Males can be slightly more difficult to train due to being more easily distracted and more intent on exploring their surroundings (Pedigree, 2023).

Overall, the research indicates female dogs may be slightly more trainable than males, especially at a younger age. But with consistent training and positive reinforcement methods, both sexes are very capable of being trained effectively.

Health Considerations

There are some differences in disease risks between male and female dogs that are worth considering. According to research, females spayed before their first heat cycle have a significantly reduced risk of mammary tumors. However, spaying female dogs, especially before maturity, increases the risk of urinary incontinence. Intact females are also at risk for pyometra, a dangerous uterine infection.[1]

For males, neutering eliminates the small risk of testicular cancer and may reduce prostate issues later in life. However, it has been suggested that neutering, especially before maturity, may increase the risk of orthopedic disorders like hip dysplasia as well as some cancers like osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and lymphosarcoma in certain breeds.[2][3] The timing of neutering in males is an important consideration.

Overall, regular veterinary checkups and early detection of any health issues are vital for both sexes. Discuss the ideal time to spay or neuter with your vet.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7222805/
[2] https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/when-should-you-neuter-your-dog-avoid-health-risks

[3] https://www.quora.com/Who-generally-faces-more-health-problems-male-dogs-or-female-dogs

Costs

One major factor in deciding whether to have two female dogs or a male and female dog is the cost of spaying and neutering. Spaying and neutering dogs provides health benefits, may improve behavior, and helps control the pet overpopulation problem. However, the procedures do come at a financial cost.

According to Rover’s cost of dog spay/neuter analysis, depending on the dog’s weight and clinic, the average total cost for a spay ranges from $340 to $1,500. For a neuter, it ranges from $300 to $950. Specific costs include:

  • Low-cost clinic spay: $25 – $240
  • Non-profit vet clinic spay: $50 – $350
  • ASPCA/Humane Society spay: Free – $250
  • Low-cost clinic neuter: $20 – $175
  • Non-profit vet clinic neuter: $50 – $350
  • ASPCA/Humane Society neuter: Free – $250

So while the behavioral and health benefits often make spaying/neutering the right choice, the costs may be a deciding factor for some pet owners when choosing between two females or a male/female pair.

Conclusion

There are both pros and cons to having two female dogs versus having one male and one female dog. Some of the key considerations include:

Pros of two females:

  • Lower risk of same-sex aggression
  • Less marking behaviors indoors
  • May have an easier time getting along

Cons of two females:

  • Risk of aggression during heat cycles
  • Higher lifetime medical costs if spaying both dogs

Pros of male/female pair:

  • Lower risk of aggression between the dogs
  • Lower medical costs if only one dog is neutered

Cons of male/female pair:

  • Risk of pregnancy if dogs are not spayed/neutered
  • Potential for indoor marking from the male dog

Ultimately, there are good reasons to consider either pairing when adding a second dog to your home. It comes down to your individual circumstances and being prepared to manage any potential challenges. Proper training, spaying/neutering, and providing proper outlets for exercise and stimulation can help minimize cons and maximize the benefits of having two happy, healthy dogs.

Scroll to Top