K9 Corner, June 6

Published 8:35 am Tuesday, June 6, 2017

BY HELEN PALMER

“I’m getting a new pup,” a caller said, “Should I get a male or a female?”

This has been a favorite question over the years, and even I have asked it. In the beginning, the breeder persuaded me to buy a female, although I had asked for a male. It turned out that she had buyers for all her males but none for the lone female, so I, a “never owned a dog before” buyer, capitulated to the sales talk and never, ever regretted the purchase.

Because of the success of the first purchase, my second, third, fourth and fifth dogs were all females.  Then came my sixth animal and that breeder persuaded me to buy a male to blend into the all-female established pack. It worked and, again, I have not regretted the choice of gender.

That is one of the criteria I now use when looking for a replacement: What does my current pack consist of?  Another question I ask is: what do I plan to use the animal for a companion? A demonstration dog? A competitive dog? Dogs enjoy being occupied, having something to do, so they need some structure to their lives. It is all right to let the animal exercise itself in the backyard, but when you get home, you should work with it, either by training or playing games.  

Either gender can be used as a companion, or as a therapy dog sharing its love and attention to other humans, or in competition. However, some owners feel that a female grows up quicker and is easier to train. Other people like the size and shape of the male of the breed over the female. Usually the male is larger boned, heavier in the neck and shoulders and has a more dominant personality.

Because of the hormone testosterone, an element of aggression might by a factor — although my male backs down from the rest of the pack members and tries to appease them when they tell him to “get lost.”

Altering pups also make a difference in their desirability as a house pet. Males are less likely to mark the furniture, females do not go into season, but an altered animal may not be shown in the conformation (breed) ring. Therefore, the operation may need to be postponed for a while if you plan to try for a championship title.

All dogs used for service for the physically challenged are either spayed or neutered. Also, altering does not change the basic personality, so an aggressive, dominant puppy will still need socialization and obedience training in order to make it a more pleasurable house dog.

So my answer to the question is that the decision is up to the individual owner, the family and the lifestyle of the home the pup is entering. There are books in the library that cover the personality, grooming requirements, and need for exercise of a number of breeds, these also should be studied.