Which Gender Is Dominant In Dogs?


There are some distinct differences between male and female dogs, both physically and behaviorally. While the most obvious differences are anatomical, male and female dogs tend to exhibit different personality traits as well. These differences stem from a combination of genetic factors, hormones, and socialization.

In general, male dogs tend to be larger, stronger, and more territorial. Females tend to be smaller and more docile. However, there is significant variability between individual dogs, with genetics, training, and environment also playing major roles.

This article will explore the various physical, personality, and behavioral differences between male and female dogs. Understanding these distinctions can help owners better train, socialize, and care for their pets.

Physical Differences

There are some notable physical differences between male and female dogs. Male dogs tend to be taller and larger than females, with more muscle mass. According to Positively (https://positively.com/victorias-blog/differences-between-male-and-female-dogs), male dogs are around 10-15% bigger than females. The size difference is most noticeable in larger breed dogs, but even small breeds like Chihuahuas will see males that are slightly bigger than females.

Weight is another key physical difference. Male dogs will generally weigh 15-20% more than females of the same breed. The extra muscle mass contributes to their increased body weight. This is one reason male dogs often appear more physically imposing than females.

When it comes to muscle, males have an advantage in upper body and neck musculature. Their bodies produce more testosterone, which contributes to larger muscle mass, especially in the chest and neck. This gives many male dogs a more pronounced muscular appearance compared to females of the same breed.

Behavioral Differences

When it comes to behavior, there are some key differences between male and female dogs. Here are a few of the most noticeable ones:


Male dogs are much more likely to mark their territory by urinating small amounts on vertical surfaces. They use urination to leave their scent around boundaries. Female dogs may mark on occasion, but it is much more prevalent in males.


Intact (unneutered) male dogs have a stronger natural urge to roam and seek out females that are in heat. This can lead them to escape from yards or homes and wander in search of potential mates. Females generally do not roam as far while in heat.


Male dogs tend to be more aggressive toward other male dogs due to territoriality and competition for mates. They may be inclined to fight with unfamiliar males they encounter. Females can be aggressive too, but their aggression is usually maternal and centered more around protecting resources.


Mounting and humping behavior is seen in both male and female dogs, but more prevalent in males. It is not always sexual in nature and can be related to dominance. Females may mount other females when one is in heat, or they may mount males to display dominance.

Training Differences

When it comes to trainability, female dogs tend to have a slight edge over males. According to Pedigree, female dogs tend to be easier to train and more focused compared to males. This is likely due to females maturing faster than males both physically and mentally. The increased maturity gives female pups an advantage during the prime training period between 3-6 months of age.

Additionally, female dogs tend to be more eager to please and bond closely with their owner. This strong bond and desire to please makes them highly responsive to positive reinforcement techniques used in dog training. Male dogs can be a little more stubborn and independent, making them slightly more difficult to motivate during training.

However, while females may have a slight edge, proper training techniques and building a strong relationship are far more important factors in developing an obedient and well-mannered dog. With time, patience, and consistency nearly any dog can be trained regardless of their gender.

Health Differences

There are some notable health differences between male and female dogs. Females go through heat cycles, usually about twice per year, where their hormones fluctuate. This can lead to mood changes. Females can also develop mammary tumors and uterine infections [1]. On the other hand, males can develop prostate issues as they age, including enlargement or infection. Testicular cancer is also a risk in intact males [2].

When it comes to neutering and spaying, there are some health benefits to doing so at an appropriate age. Neutering males can reduce their risk for prostate issues and testicular cancer. Spaying females eliminates the risk for mammary tumors and pyometra. Both spayed females and neutered males may have a reduced risk for some orthopedic issues as well [3].

Neutering/Spaying Effects

Neutering or spaying dogs has become common practice to help control the pet population. However, research shows there are both pros and cons to this procedure that need to be considered.

On the positive side, neutering or spaying eliminates the ability to reproduce, reducing accidental dog pregnancies and preventing certain cancers associated with the reproductive organs, according to the AKC (1). It can also reduce roaming behaviors in male dogs and minimize aggressive tendencies and dominance behaviors in both sexes (2).

However, research also indicates potential drawbacks. Studies show both male and female dogs are at increased risk for joint disorders like hip dysplasia after being neutered or spayed. There also appears to be connections between early spay/neuter procedures and increased rates of some cancers like lymphoma, mast cell tumors, and hemangiosarcoma (1).

Additionally, neutering seems to be linked with increased appetite and higher tendencies toward obesity, which carries its own associated health risks (3). So the timing of spay/neuter procedures and the long-term impacts need to be carefully weighed by owners.

Dominance in Packs

The concept of an “alpha” dog that dominates the pack has been widely popularized. However, research shows that free-ranging domestic dogs do not form structured packs with rigid dominance hierarchies as initially thought. While dogs are social animals, recent studies find that family and social groups of dogs do not organize themselves with a “top dog” that asserts active dominance.

Rather, relationships are based more on natural social bonding, affiliative behaviors, and management of resource access. Adult male and female dogs generally play similar roles in maintaining social cohesion in their groups. Length of tenure in the group, reproductive state, temperament, health status, and other factors also influence social status.

While displays of dominance and submission do occur, they are not reliable indicators of stable social hierarchy or leadership roles in dog groups. Overall, the concept of an “alpha dog” has been debunked in recent years. Dogs form much more flexible, egalitarian social groups based on cooperation rather than strict dominance.

Preferences in Pet Owners

When it comes to choosing between a male or female dog as a pet, some owners have distinct preferences.Do people prefer male or female dogs as pets? There are a few potential reasons why certain people gravitate towards one sex over the other.

Some prefer female dogs because they perceive them as easier to train and handle overall. Female dogs tend to be less dominant, territorial, and aggressive compared to males. For this reason, many families with children opt for a female pup. Owners also report female dogs as being more attentive and affectionate.

However, others argue that male dogs are actually more loyal, eager to please, and affectionate overall. Surveys show that male dogs bond very closely with their owners. Males are also thought to be more protective. So some owners, especially single women, may opt for a male for security reasons.

In the end, generalizations don’t always apply to individual dogs, whose personalities are shaped much more by training, environment, and genetics than their biological sex. But some owner preferences for either male or female dogs do persist when selecting a new pet.

Role of Hormones

Testosterone and estrogen are the primary hormones that create differences between male and female dogs. As puppies reach maturity, testosterone levels increase dramatically in male dogs, while female dogs see increases in estrogen. According to research, testosterone levels in male dogs can increase by over 200% during puberty (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10339877/).

Higher testosterone is associated with increased muscle mass, deeper voices, and certain behavioral traits like marking territory in male dogs. Meanwhile, estrogen is linked to female sexual characteristics and maternal behaviors in female dogs. Interestingly, spaying/neutering dogs impacts these hormone levels. For example, neutering male dogs typically reduces testosterone by 90% (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8388798/).

While individual personalities play a role, the impact of testosterone versus estrogen helps explain typical differences seen between male and female dog behaviors. However, training and socialization can shape dog behavior as well.


The issue of dominance between male and female dogs is a complex one. While males tend to be larger and stronger physically, female dogs can also demonstrate dominant behaviors and roles within a pack. Much depends on early socialization, training, the individual dog’s personality, and hormone levels.

When studying pack behaviors in the wild, the alpha role often goes to the breeding male and female of the pack. However, male and female pet dogs can both be dominant or submissive, regardless of gender. Proper training and socialization are key to establishing a healthy pack dynamic.

Neutering or spaying can reduce hormone-driven behaviors but does not necessarily change a dog’s inherent personality and tendencies toward dominant or submissive roles. Overall, it would be an oversimplification to label one gender as universally “dominant” in dogs. While some gender-linked tendencies exist, much depends on the individual animal and its unique characteristics.

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