When considering dog adoption, you tend to think about which gender of dog you should choose, a male or a female one. After all, they will be part of your family, and too much aggression is sometimes dangerous for the family’s well-being.
And when it comes to dogs and their genders, female dogs are often the second choice, as there are certain rumors pertaining to female dogs that they are more aggressive than male dogs.
This is the most common misconception people have about female dogs, as they are not generally aggressive, and when they do, they have their reasons.
There are certain moments when a male dog will not show aggression, but a female dog will, and the reason can be hormonal or circumstantial.
In this article, we will thoroughly discuss female dogs’ aggression common beliefs about female dogs’ aggression and tips on how to manage and reduce aggression in dogs.
Are Female Dogs More Aggressive?
In general, female dogs are not very aggressive without a reason. Every dog is different; some dogs inherit their temperament from their parents, and some are born as a result of mixed breeds.
Female dogs can seem aggressive when they are whelping or near that time. Other similar hormonal changes and occurrence can cause aggression in female dogs, but these are normal and does not last too long.
A female dog’s aggression can be because of maternity issues. They may be aggressive when they have given birth or are pregnant, and it is nothing but a natural instinct to protect their unborn or newborns.
They may also be aggressive towards anyone who goes to the place where they rest or where the newborn pups play or sleep.
In general, female and male dogs are more or less the same aggressive. If you are bringing home a pup, it is important to train them well and have positive engagements with them; when their anger is controlled in young days, it makes them positive and more social.
Common Beliefs About Female Dog Aggression
It is believed that female dogs are more aggressive even in normal situations and daytime.
It is said that female aggression in dogs makes it hard to train and manage them, but this is not the case. Both genders of dogs are equally aggressive in their young days, and proper training is important to make them calm and social.
A dog’s aggression also depends on the environment they are in, along with their personality and temperament, which is often inherited genetically.
If you are expecting your dog to never show aggression, it is impossible because every dog, be it male or female, will show some signs of aggression as it is a way of communication for them.
People believe female dogs are aggressive for no reason, but that is not the case. They typically get aggressive when they are afraid, anxious, in pain, or irritated about something. They try to convey their discomfort non-aggressively, but when you fail to understand the signs, they get aggressive.
Many people believe that an aggressive female dog will always behave rudely, and it can be unsafe for the family, but this is not the case.
They are aggressive because they have a concern; it is not something out of the blue. You need to find the reason for their aggressive behavior and resolve it. This will calm them and ensure good, well-mannered behavior.
Female Dogs Hormonal and Physiological Aspects
Female dogs go through a series of hormonal and physiological changes during their lifetime. These changes often lead to discrimination during adoption, as many people think that the hormonal and physical changes in female dogs will require too much care and attention.
One change that is very much talked about is the reproductive changes in female dogs. It is mostly like humans, with phases when they are young in their puppyhood, and then the phase changes when they reach sexual maturity, which leads to estrous cycle, pregnancy, and menopause.
- Puppyhood: When female dogs are very young puppies, they are like other male puppies, as reproductive senses have not yet developed in them. The body, at this phase, does not produce hormones, which are required for reproduction.
- Sexual Maturity: When a female dog reaches sexual maturity, its body starts producing hormones necessary for reproduction. Female dogs enter the sexual maturity phase around 6 months of age; during this time, they get their heat cycle or the estrous cycle.
- Estrous Cycle: The estrous cycle is a recurring event in the life of a sexually mature female dog.
- Pregnancy: If the female mates during estrus and fertilization occurs, she will go through a pregnancy that lasts about 63 days.
- Whelping: Whelping is the process by which female dogs give birth. This process may last from 30 minutes to 2 days, depending on the number of pups she is giving birth to. Hormones like oxytocin play a crucial role in uterine contractions during labor.
- Lactation: Like in humans, female dogs develop the ability to produce milk for the puppies, and this is called lactation. Prolactin, a type of hormone, stimulates milk production.
- Menopause: Unlike humans, dogs do not experience permanent menopause. However, as they age, the frequency and regularity of their estrous cycles may decrease. Older female dogs may have irregular or less frequent heat cycles.
For the pet owner, understanding their needs and accepting their hormonal changes is important. You can visit a veterinarian and seek advice on how to take care of your female dog in its different hormonal phases.
Male Dogs Hormonal and Physiological Aspects
Male dogs, very similar to their female counterparts, undergo different hormonal changes in their lifetime. The major changes that they go through are reproductive and their overall development.
Let’s have a look at the different phases of their hormonal and physiological changes.
- Puppyhood: When they are little puppies, they do not have any active hormones that are vital for reproduction.
- Sexual Maturity: Similar to their female partners, male dogs, depending on their breed and size, reach sexual maturity between six and twelve months of age.
During this period, dogs start to produce hormones that are necessary for reproduction. They start producing significant levels of sex hormones, mainly testosterone.
- Testosterone Production: Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It plays a crucial role in the development of secondary sexual characteristics, including the growth of the testes, the enlargement of the penis, and the development of masculine behaviors.
- Sperm Production: Once sexually mature, male dogs begin producing sperm. Sperm production is continuous, unlike in some other mammals, which means that males can theoretically reproduce throughout their lives.
- Erection and Ejaculation: Male dogs have the ability to achieve erections and ejaculate when they are sexually stimulated or excited. This is a physiological response controlled by hormones.
- Reproductive Behavior: Male dogs may exhibit reproductive behaviors such as mounting, territorial marking with urine, and increased interest in females in heat (estrus). These behaviors are driven by hormonal changes.
- Neutering (Castration): Neutering is a surgical procedure that removes the testes, leading to a reduction in testosterone production. This procedure can have various effects, including decreased reproductive behaviors, reduced aggression in some cases, and the prevention of unwanted pregnancies.
- Aging: As male dogs age, their hormone production may change. Testosterone levels may decrease, leading to less pronounced sexual behaviors. However, unlike females, male dogs do not experience a defined “menopause” because they can theoretically reproduce throughout their lives.
What Does the Science Say?
There is no conclusive scientific evidence that proves female dogs to be more aggressive than male dogs. Aggression in both the genders of dogs is a reaction to many things.
Dogs show aggression for various reasons; it could be genetic, or they may be in pain, and aggression is the way they communicate. It goes for both genders.
Dogs usually show aggression when they are not given proper training in their puppyhood or when they are not properly socialized.
However, during whelping or other reproductive hormonal changes, female dogs are more alert and sometimes aggressive. When they have given birth, they are very protective of their pups and can be aggressive during these times, which separates them from male dogs’ aggression, who do not undergo these things.
How to Manage and Reduce Aggression in Dogs?
The first step to managing and reducing a dog’s aggression is to understand the root cause behind such aggression. This will make the job easier for you and will help you figure out your next steps.
You can seek a professional’s help in understanding and managing the aggression of your dog. There are a few steps you can take for effective management of your dog’s aggression.
1. See a Veterinarian
Your dog may be in pain or have some medical issues that have triggered the aggression in your dog. It is never out of the blue that your dog gets aggressive.
Your vet will examine your dog and will let you know if there are any underlying issues that are making them react aggressively. If there are any such concerns, the vet will provide medications to help your dog, which will help them calm down and improve their behavior.
2. Call in a Professional
If there are no medical issues or illnesses in your dog, your vet will recommend you seek a professional’s help to better understand this behavior.
If you go on by finding a solution on your own, it can be tough. A professional or animal behavior specialist will tell you the actual issue and may suggest a solution for the issue.
You can find a professional or a dog trainer or an animal behavior specialist online or can ask a vet to recommend you one.
Ans: While there is no conclusive evidence which proves that female dogs are more aggressive than male dogs. Dogs are, in general, capable of showing aggression regardless of their gender.
Ans: Studies have shown that dogs of the opposite genders are more likely to get along well and do better both socially and emotionally, as dogs of the same gender may sometimes get aggressive towards each other, as dominance can be an issue.
Ans: One reason for your female dog being aggressive can be because she is in some kind of pain. Get it checked by a veterinarian to determine if there is any medical issue that is making your dog aggressive and rude.
There are some misconceptions pertaining to female dogs. One such misconception is that female dogs are more aggressive than male dogs, which can not be proved by evidence. Dogs are aggressive in nature, be it of any gender; excessive aggression can be treated by knowing the reason behind it.
Female dogs undergo some hormonal changes which makes them a bit vulnerable and aggressive but that is not permanent and can be managed by positive environments.
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.