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Battle of the Sexes

Should I get a female or male puppy?  I get this question asked, on the average, once per week.

The battle of the sexes is as active with dogs as it is with humans.  Ask a dozen professional trainers and you’ll probably get a 50-50 split decision.  Here are some thoughts.

Dave Duffy, a well- respected and long-time gun dog writer, often mentioned in his columns that he felt females were easier to train than a male dog.  He also thought they made better house companions.  With the greatest respect for Mr. Duffy, your writer feels that there are too many variables to simply choose a female as the easiest sex to train.  Most experts feel that dog behavior is more a result of a puppy’s breeding and how it was raised and trained.  Personally, I’ve never read or heard of a scientific study that proved one sex to be easier to train than the other.

Let’s take a look at our two dogs.  In our home, we have a three year old female German shorthair and an eight year old male German shorthair.  Let’s look at each as they’ve grown. As a puppy, the male dog was much more destructive.  He chewed and ruined everything he could get into his mouth.  Right from a puppy, he was bird crazed.  As his pointing instinct developed, he would rather jump on a planted bird than hold a point.  He chased deer, turkeys and porcupines.  He eventually, at about three years old, became a very good field dog; holding his point and staying steady to wing, shot and drop.  He has also become a perfect house dog.  He no longer chews, chases and is lovable and gives you his love.  He was neutered at seven months so he has no desire to roam the countryside in search of a girlfriend.

The female in the house has never been a chewer of shoes, electrical cords or any other household material.  She was not as bird crazy as the male during puppy time and had less interest in pointing as a puppy.   Her pointing instincts simply took longer to develop.  This past fall, at 2 ½ years, she had numerous grouse finds, points and pinned birds which resulted in flushes and good shooting.  She is also a better retriever than the male and delivers with a soft mouth.  She is more prompt with recall but took longer to learn “whoa” than the male.  Once having learned the “whoa” command, she’s more compliant than the male. Our female, as is the male, a wonderful companion and house dog.

The bottom line between these two dogs is that the female took longer to learn about pointing and birds, however, once she grasped the desired action, she has been more predictable.  Overall, however, and it may just be experience; the older male will find more birds than the younger female.

From a hunting point of view, your author has had the good fortune to either watch or hunt over many breeds; both females and males.  Some of these dogs have been amongst the best pointing dogs in the country.  I would give a very slight edge to the females.  I’ve seen them locate and pin more birds than their male counterpart.  But, that’s only a slight edge…not enough to sway a potential puppy buyer.

The best advice on this subject is to buy the puppy that makes you happy without regard to sex.  Of course, be sure to do the standard pre-buy checklist; are the sire and dam accomplished hunters, are they well-behaved house dogs (if that is your plan) and they are free of disease.  Once the puppy comes home, the future for your new friend is mostly in your hands.

Paul Fuller is a lifelong sportsman.  He’s been an outdoor writer since 1971. He’s the host and producer of the award winning Bird Dogs Afield TV show ( and produced the epic video Grouse, Guns & Dogs. Paul shot over his first German short-haired pointer in 1961.

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