Most people who approach us about a puppy have a clear idea of whether they would like a male or female. This could be a very important factor when choosing a puppy. Although male and female puppies aren't hugely different at eight weeks of age, by the time they reach adulthood there will be clear distinctions between the two sexes. With the health benefits of leaving the gonads that produce sex hormones intact when desexing (or not desexing at all) becoming more well known, the differences between the sexes are generally more obvious.
The factor that most are aware of is the difference in appearance between males and females.
Generally males from one litter will eventually be larger than their female counterparts. They will usually grow taller and have a heavier frame. Of course, this varies when looking at dogs from different litters. Some parents may be small and some large. Consequently, some females may be larger than males, purely due to genetics. Our Tilly is the same weight as Jack. All of our other females are smaller, however.
Of course male dogs will look more masculine, especially if they have gonads producing sex hormones. They will have a "chunkier" appearance: broader heads, deeper chests, stronger bodies, that "look at me" stance and an alert, "feather duster" tail. They are meant to look as if they are in charge of their territory.
Yes, male dogs will lift their leg to pee. They like to squirt small quantities of urine to mark their territory, BUT they are often easier to toilet train than females.
Removal of the gonads will lessen these characteristics. Naturally, the earlier the desexing takes place, the less masculine the dog will appear.
Females are usually shorter in stature and finer in frame. This often facilitates greater agility. Their heads have a more feminine appearance.
An "entire" female will come on heat for three or four weeks twice a year once they reach sexual maturity. They will have a bloody vaginal discharge, which can be problematic if an indoor dog. She should not be taken out in public places during this time.
There are some general behavioural characteristics of both male and female Border Collies. It is also important to remember that some breading lines have more biddable temperaments than others.
Male dogs tend to want more affection than females and display more affectionate behaviours. They tend to be more "pushy" and will often nudge you for attention. They are often more cuddly.
As a male dog ages he is more likely to maintain his puppy-like exuberance than females, who tend to become more reserved and aloof.
Often (but not always) male dogs will be more food motivated than females. This has distinct training advantages.
One could say that males have a more "even" temperament. They are often calmer too.
Generally females will be more independent. They like to be in control. For example, they will approach you for affection but leave once they have what they wanted. They may use less obvious attention seeking behaviours than males.
Because females like to be in control they tend to be more stubborn. They will respond quickly and fiercely to challenges.
A less known fact is that females are territorial. They will mark their territory for their entire life, whether desexed or not. If the gonads are removed from a male dog they will mark their territory less as the testosterone levels drop and eventually stop.
Females are less affectionate than males and are likely to become more reserved with age.
"Entire" females will have mood swings when they come on heat. In general females tend to be more "moody" than males. From a competition perspective they have days of brilliance and days of less than excellent performance.
It is important to remember that although some behavioural characteristics are "hard wired" into our pets, the Border Collie is a very adaptable and malleable breed. I tend to believe that through nurturing and good training you turn your dog into whatever you want.
Problems in dogs are generally caused by people. Often it is through lack of understanding or lack of consistency. Choosing a puppy with parents who have biddable temperaments and sound conformation is only the first chapter in the story. The rest is up to the puppy's family.
We have beautiful Border Collies of both sexes. They are all appreciated for their individuality and all have an overwhelming desire to please. This is a quality we aim to nurture.