In choosing male vs female cats and dogs, how do they differ in their behavior and personality? Many pet owners have distinct preferences in choosing a male vs a female pet. Both sexes have certain traits and biological functions that tend to color their personalities, but does the sex of your pet really matter that much?

Union Lake Veterinary Hospital looks into the differences between the sexes to help you choose the perfect pet for you. 

Behavioral Differences – Male vs Female Cats and Dogs

You will notice more distinct differences in male and female cats or dogs if they have not been spayed or neutered. Females are generally moodier. Males are often more affectionate. Males may be more aggressive as well but it isn’t true of all breeds. If you have been around a female cat or dog in estrus, or “heat”, then you know key characteristics of a sexually mature female, such as marking, straying from the home, and vocalizing. 

Males are driven to stake out territory and reproduce, while females seek safety and territorial protection to raise their young. These gender characteristics make for noticeable differences in personality if your pet is still sexually intact. 

But what about when they are altered? As a rule, even spayed and neutered pets have subtle characteristics that are more specific to male vs female dogs and cats.

Spayed females are often:

  • Easier to train
  • More likely to stay near their owner
  • More possessive of family members/owners
  • Easier to housebreak
  • Less needy, more independent
  • Fewer conflicts with other animals
  • Moodier than males 
  • More withdrawn

Neutered males are:

  • Sometimes more dominant than females
  • More territorial
  • More puppy-like in personality
  • View children as fellow puppy mates
  • Oftentimes more playful
  • Assertive and confident
  • Can be more aggressive

When You Have Other Pets

Interestingly, when you have more than one dog or cat, the opposite sexes get along better. Maybe they see each other as less of a threat when it comes to their mating instincts or their place within the social pack. And spaying and neutering have alleviated many of the gender-specific problem behaviors.

It’s All About the Personality

For altered pets, personality is more important than sex in determining the right pet. Just as with humans, each pet has its own individual personality. We recommend spending time getting to know a potential new adoptee and seeing how well they integrate into your household.

Most rescues and shelters insist on doing a meet and greet with household pets and kids, just to see how well the pets get along. It’s rare that gender alone determines a good match. The most important aspect of whether a fur friend is right for you is to get to know their personality and disposition.

Choosing Male vs Female Cats and Dogs

If you have any questions about adopting a pet or the differences in male vs female cats and dogs, please call the Union Lake Veterinary Hospital team.