A Male or a Female puppy?
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.
Many of the families on my puppy waiting list initially ask for a female puppy. Many people believe that female dogs make better pets. A female preference seems to be ingrained into society. Almost everyone inquiring about my puppies wants a "sweet" little girl. They don't think females display alpha behaviours, mark their territory or hump. Apparently, they are more docile and attentive without expressing dominance or participating in fighting. This is where fact and fiction become somewhat blurry! So, let's look at the actual facts.
Gender can 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.
In nature, it is the female dogs who determine the structure of the pack. They determine the pecking order and compete to maintain that pecking order or change it. Consequently, they are more independent, stubborn and territorial than males. Females are much more inclined to express their dominance by displaying alpha behaviours. Most fights are usually between females. Females are more inclined to "mark" their territory than males. Many female dogs actually lift their leg to pee.
Males on the other hand are more affectionate, exuberant, attentive and attention seeking. They become very attached to their families. Males are more steadfast, reliable & less moody. They are more outgoing, social and accepting of other pets and children. Males are very food & praise motivated, as well as being very eager to please. Hence, they are easier to train. Males have fewer fights than females. Males don't tend to lose their fun-loving puppy like playfulness, while females are more reserved.
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 significantly 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 usually 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 the male physical 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 around 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 "pushier" and will often nudge you for attention. They are often cuddlier.
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 "moodier" 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.
You've probably worked out that if I were to choose a puppy as a pet, it would be a male, but 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.