This is Stupid

But I will ask it anyway. I have my brother’s dog Ellie because my whole family (sans me) is going to Isle of Palms in South Carolina for three weeks for Christmas, which means I have Ellie, Lily, and Rosie for the next month (as well as Speak and Whisper, my brother’s cats). I’ll have three dogs and three cats, so no, I will not be lonely. Regardless, I was invited, but because I am an agoraphobic shut-in, I told them to pound salt. I can’t think of anything worse than spending three weeks with my entire family and eleventy-three dogs in a beach house for three weeks. Plus, there is a little bit of principle at play here- I had to travel home for Christmas for twenty years, then I move down the street from my parents, and they move Christmas to South Carolina. Fuck you. I can take a hint.

But back to my stupid question. I am a firm believer that female dogs work better with male owners, and vice versa. For me, I only want female dogs- they just react better. Cats, it doesn’t matter. It’s a cat and will do what it wants. But I really do believe female dogs are better for male owners. Is there any research to back this up?

90 replies
  1. 1
    Karmus says:

    This is not what you are asking, but in my limited experience, female cats like guys once they get to know them. They seem to have an extra “I can wrap you around my pawfinger” glee with guys. Guy cats are just, “hey, buddy, see you when I’m hungry.”

    Dogs I don’t know as well.

  2. 2
    dollared says:

    No. I have a male terrier and he is far more goofy, macho and irrational than a female would be. Which suits me fine. It’s good to take your id to the park once a day, and then let it sleep on the couch the rest of the time.

  3. 3
    kc says:

    1) I don’t know if there is any research, but I’m a woman, and I tend to like female dogs better. But I love boy cats.

    2) three weeks IS way too long to spend with anyone’s family, especially one’s own, but why don’t you just come down to SC for a long weekend? I thought that convention trip had gotten you out of your shell …

  4. 4
    urlhix says:

    Considering I got bit on the arm breaking up a fight between my two girl dogs during Thanksgiving dinner, I’m not sure this is a truism. Our three-legged boy is a peach, though.

  5. 5
    redshirt says:

    Pimpin’ ain’t easy.

  6. 6
    freelancer says:

    You’re a weird guy, Ace.

  7. 7
    NotMax says:

    Breed is a decent measure of compatibility.

    As in WoW, sex is irrelevant other than as a personal preference.

  8. 8
    HE Pennypacker, Wealthy Industrialist says:

    Also no answer to your question, but my wife and I believe (from experience) that male cats are much more friendly, pliable, dumb, and happy than female cats. That said, the favorite cat in the house is the female, because she’s devious enough to run the household and is also just too damn cute. YMMV.

  9. 9
    Ted & Hellen says:

    John, I have a male dog, Ted, and a female, Hellen, and I get along with both of them awesomely; I adore them. The interaction is different, but that may be because Ted was here first for two years so he is the alpha regardless, plus they just have different personalities regardless of sex.

    Ted is just as loving as Hellen, in his own way.

    Hey, why am I writing all this? I will just tell you what I tell DougJ or whomever it is that posts under that name and ten others: Google it!

  10. 10
    Keith says:

    I’m not seeing it. I’ve had both male and female dogs, and my friends have had both. Had no bearing on whether or not they were good dogs. As for cats, until my rescue cat, I’ve only had male cats, and they’ve all been real sweet. The female one that I got via is sweet as hell, but she’s not nearly as affectionate as my male cats, and my brother’s female cats are the same way (to me, at least), only worse.

  11. 11
    Alison says:

    Eh, I think there is just way too much that depends on both the animal and the person. Probably differs among breeds too (of dogs, I mean, but hey, maybe humans too…)

    We’ve had three dogs in my family, all boys, and all three with completely different personalities. The only one where there was an issue between the dog and my dad was the dachshund my mom got, which was the biggest fucking spaz in the whole canine world. That dog hated my dad for no reason we knew of. My dad loves dogs and never mistreated him, but the vet said he’d probably been abused before by someone who looked like my dad. Eventually Dad told Mom either the dog goes or I do…she had to think it over, LOL. But yeah, that wasn’t a case of the wrong gender dog, it was just the wrong dog. Or wrong dog brain.

  12. 12
    RobertDSC-PowerMac 466 says:

    I got thoroughly owned by a female cat at my previous workplace. My parents have 2 females and a male and they are my dad’s girls. The male is my mother’s dog, as was our previous male dog.

  13. 13
    pepper says:

    i have brother and sister cats from a local shelter. the male cat is quite a bit more affectionate than his sister. i know nothing about dogs.

  14. 14
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    Just in my experience, my boy cats and boy dogs dote on me, my girls treat me more of an equal*. That probably doesn’t answer your question, but there you go.

    And I’m with you on the family thing. 3 weeks? Not in my own house for the holidays. No way. Long weekend is my limit.

    Or at least get me my own beach house.

    Why does Ellie have to stay home and Bohgan get to go?

    EDIT to Add: *or servant, depending on mood.

  15. 15
    Face says:

    Female dogs are good as pets, turrible for dating.

  16. 16
    red dog says:

    General rule. Dogs get along with the opposite sex pretty well. Ask any shelter. Especially if they are not fixed. Many times a large breed (Dane, Mastiff) calm dog will do OK with the same sex or calm a hyper dog. I have had many dogs and far prefer the guys for general affection.

  17. 17
    kathy a. says:

    good call on not spending 3 weeks with everybody. why would anybody do that? a weekend might not be bad, if you can persuade anyone to take on the ragtag menagerie. by then, maybe you will have figured out how the new group works together.

    your brother seriously owes you for 3 weeks of petsitting, chez nous.

  18. 18
    Keith G says:

    One can make a case unaltered cats and dogs have different sex-based behaviors. Or so it seemed in the dark age of my farm kid youth, but for the last 30 years I have dealt mainly with urbanized animals neutered at the earliest possible time and with that, sex-based differences seem present and usually very slight.

    With these new age, neutered, pets, individual personality seems the most important – as well as owner biases.

    Look at your own self, Cole. That is the key.

    Edit, BTW of all the companion animals I have taken care of, these two female cats sitting beside me are the most affectionate…evah.

  19. 19
    amk says:

    That’s some weird Oedipus complex dood.

  20. 20
    PurpleGirl says:

    John, you make me laugh.

    My friends had both male and female dogs; I never noticed any difference in how they responded to us or us to them. Of course, the male Dobermann was the alpha of the household but if you were one of his humans he was a marshmallow, sweet and gentle. The cat was male and largely ignored us humans.

  21. 21
    suzanne says:

    Have had both sexes of both species. Have had various breeds. And I think there is NO WAY to judge compatibility of personalities based on any of those criteria. My three Siberian Huskies only shared one thing: shitloads of fur all over the place.

  22. 22
    Suffern ACE says:

    @freelancer: I haven’t even posted yet.

  23. 23
    Allen says:

    This is what I have been told, but not by a critter behaviorist, about cats. Female cats “tend” to be more independent as they are the providers, etc. But my cats would disprove this. My male wanders all around the neighborhood, the female won’t leave the yard, but she is a killer.

    Don’t know anything about dogs along those lines, but I imagine that they are more geared to their societies, alpha dogs will be alpha dogs, etc. Will ask around to find out what I can find out.

  24. 24
    Phoenix_rising says:

    Nope. We have a male dog right now* that our daughter picked out of a large group of similar small hypoallergenic dogs. He is insane. Better since we’ve been applying mature female Dane to his freakout attacks; they used to run 24/7 but he’s cut back to ‘anytime she’s agitated’ which is rare.

    I have never before had a male dog, and with only this one as anecdata, never will another male dog cross my doorstep as a visitor let alone housemate. He’s all the worst things about a cat, plus all the bad things about the men my sister didn’t marry before she found the father of my niece. He demands attention, pisses all over the accomplishments of others, complains about the cuisine and whines when he’s left out of the hug.

    But that’s just one lesbian’s opinion, YMMV.

    *For values of “right now”=”until I can contrive to let him get hit by a car, eaten by a pit mix or stolen by a lonely old lady who will feed him ice cream from her spoon while she’s eating off it herself”. No malice, I just don’t care which of the above 3 ways this dog leaves my life.

  25. 25
    Gracie says:

    Small sample size, but here you go: in 13 years of marriage, my husband and I have had two female dogs, and both preferred his company to mine. And by preferred I mean I don’t think they liked me very much. I don’t know why. I spend more time with all the dogs than my hubbie does, but the only dog intensely bonded to me is a male. He’s my dog by his choice, and when I leave the house he lets my husband know it,

    Force the dogs to sniff each other’s butts first thing if they haven’t met before. It’s the canine version of determining the firmness of a handshake.

  26. 26
    Keith G says:

    @kathy a.: We (four adult sibling) are very close and even when our parents were still around, we methodically avoided ever spending more than a week together. Two weeks or more….ick! That’s not right.

    Even Mom, who was a 1960s style mom among moms lived by the quote:

    “After three days, friends, family and fish start to stink”

    Which was her bastardization of a Franklin quote.

  27. 27
    Karmus says:

    It’s always been my experience that toms are the roamers. Don’t doubt that the females are huntresses. I think the roaming comes from other motivations.

    I’ve also read, early enough that I don’t know if I’ve observed it or just remembered it and had it reinforced, that initially female cats tend to be more aloof and reserved until they get to know someone.

    Just as an anecdote, I’ve a singer friend with a female cat who mostly tolerates women, but let a guy come over and it’s flirt city. It’s pretty funny.

  28. 28
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Not stupid. My female dog definitely prefers men to women.

  29. 29
    trollhattan says:

    Based on my vast sample of two–one boy and one girl–I think the boy was generally an equal opportunity suck-up whether the human was male or female, but certain adult dudes set him off and it was not possible to predict in advance. Our girl prefer me (house dude) to anybody, given the choice. However, she is far more at ease with female visitors than males, noticeably so. We adopted her at two or three years, so have no way of knowing who may have abused her in her early years. I’m certain that plays a role.

    After my sampling, I conclude not much at all. I think it largely depends on their earlier human interactions, but it’s interesting both are most wary of strange men.

  30. 30
    Allen says:

    @Karmus: My female will kill just about anything, rabbits, which are as big as her, our neighborhood flying squirrel, all the mice and voles, not to mention birds she can find. The list goes on and on.

    My male scares the hell out of me. Crossing the street and all. A car will get him in the end.

  31. 31
    Redshift says:


    You’re a weird guy, Ace.

    That was my first, and, I think, only reaction.

  32. 32
    trollhattan says:

    Guess I need to add the critters in question are dogs, Dalmatians if that matters.

  33. 33
    fcc says:

    In the last 27 years I’ve seen 13 cats and three dogs run through this household. In all cases I am convinced the individual personality of the animal was the dominant factor in the relationship, irrespective of gender of the animal (or the human).
    I am male, and have been able to establish good relationships with every one of them except two: a young male who left because of a conflict with another male cat; and a feral cat we feed but will never admit to the household because his feral habits are too established.
    My wife has relationships with the animals more similar to mine than not. We have rules for the animals and enforce them in the same ways. Habits are established and reinforced that make coexistence possible and pleasant for all parties; but we are in charge and they know it. Consistency is the key.

  34. 34

    I don’t know; I’m a guy and I’ve had dude dogs and girl dogs, and I’ve found them all to work well with me. Seems like on the whole, the girls have been the goofiest and the dudes the mellowest, but the girls were golden retrievers and brittany spaniels, so that’s most likely why. Dudes have all been strays, two of them beach dogs from Honduras, so I guess that pretty much answers itself.

    Something random I wondered about… “Pound salt” and “pound sand”, I’ve heard that, and I know what they mean, idiomatically, at least, but what do they come from? What’s behind those sayings? What do they mean historically or literally?

  35. 35
    Narcissus says:

    @Zapruder F. Mashtots, D.D.S.: Either one probably hurts something fierce if your butt is involved

    Which I’ve always assumed it is

  36. 36
    Beauzeaux says:

    @HE Pennypacker, Wealthy Industrialist:

    “male cats are much more friendly, pliable, dumb, and happy than female cats”

    Same for dogs. The females have to be more alert and cautious just because they have to raise the young ‘uns. The boys are dumber and more relaxed. More fun.

  37. 37
    Djur says:

    Both of my boy cats have been snuggly and good-natured, but otherwise much different — the first is incredibly gregarious and fearless, and the latter is scared of his own shadow.

  38. 38
    The Dangerman says:

    Should have gone to South Carolina, whereupon all of your virtual cohorts could have petitioned Nikki Haley to place you in the Senate.

  39. 39
  40. 40
    Dieter says:

    I always find that amazing myself, just ask. It’s like the “Magic 8 Ball”, except correct.

  41. 41
    the mouth says:

    I’ve had girls and I’ve had boys,and my little italian greyhound has reached bro for life status. He is my little dude and I’ve never related to a pet more.

  42. 42
    Nicole says:

    I’m not sure how one would ever do a study on this, as you can’t really ask the pet’s opinion; you’re dependent on the owner’s interpretation.

    That said, I have never known a pet bird that didn’t choose to bond with someone in the household of the opposite sex, if the option was available. We had a number of parakeets through my childhood and my poor dad was so resigned every time one of the birds turned out to be female (it’s hard to tell when they’re babies) because he knew it meant years of a wee feathered beastie making passes at him every time she got out of the cage. My stepmom would take it very personally.

    Though I guess there must be birds that prefer same-sex in their interspecies relationships. Biological exuberance, and all that.

  43. 43
    TK-421 says:

    Ah, such a shame. I keep thinking one day I’ll actually meet JC, and here his entire family is going to be (literally) 5 min away from where I live.

    But no, he won’t be coming to IoP. Shame.

  44. 44
    BethanyAnne says:

    @TK-421: Why aren’t you at your post?

  45. 45
    tkogrumpy says:

    Research? I don’t think anyone else gives a shit John.

  46. 46
  47. 47
    freelancer says:


    thank you for that.

  48. 48
    Anne Laurie says:

    I am a firm believer that female dogs work better with male owners, and vice versa. For me, I only want female dogs- they just react better.

    At least 50% of that is how you are reacting to them, Cole. That you haven’t figured this out yet is a pretty good indication of why you’re still single.

    That said, gender is one of those scent-based markers that household small predator companions take way more seriously than us apex apes. Dogs, in particular, have strong gender biases — male dogs threaten & display-fight other males like teenage boys in a locker room, usually all loud noise & spittle. Female dogs don’t ‘show off’ like that, but when a bitch-fight breaks out there will be blood, yours if you get between them. And bitches can attack male dogs, but a dog who attacks a bitch is seriously damaged in the brain & probably not safe for anyone to be around.

    Some dogs carry this ‘chivalric code’ over to humans, some don’t. All else being equal, your random not-previously-abused male dog will be a little friendlier to female humans, and vice versa. But the defnition of ‘friendlier’ varies so much from breed to breed — not to mention individual to individual — that there will be almost as many exceptions as stereotypes in a random sample like an obedience class or shelter.

    The real problems, in everything I’ve experienced & most of my reading, is dog-on-dog interaction. If you have a male (even a neutered male) it’ll be easier for everybody if your next adoptee is a female (even if she’s fixed too, which of course she should be). Two neutered males may decide they have to argue all the damned time, and two females may decide upon war to the death, literally. You got lucky because Lily is so submissive (and Rosie is not) — admit it, if they’d joined the household the other way around, Rosie would have done her best to murder Lily upon arrival. And you better make it clear that Ellie is still a guest, not a new roommate, because it wouldn’t surprise me if Lily were to be perfectly happy to help Rosie attempt murder if you try to bring another adult female dog into your kingdom on a permanent basis.

  49. 49
    Nerf herder says:

    John, as a sixty-something male who grew up with and has always had dogs, my experience is that female dogs are generally easier to train and live with in harmony. I know others may dispute this, and of course they are welcome to their own opinions. As for cats, gender seems to matter less than personality, although I will say that most of my male cats have been more laid back than the females. And everyone, please get your animals fixed! It’s the intelligent and responsible thing to do.

  50. 50
    BethanyAnne says:

    @freelancer: :)

  51. 51
    Maude says:

    John is going to be walking three dogs. his neighbors will take pictures.

  52. 52
    Narcissus says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    At least 50% of that is how you are reacting to them, Cole. That you haven’t figured this out yet is a pretty good indication of why you’re still single.

    ice burn

  53. 53
    calabi-yeow says:

    My female cat is a hag-ridden demon to all genders.

    15 years old….going strong…..with no end in sight.

    My question: Why did evolution favor an animal that sleeps 20 hours a day? Seems like a waste of evolutionary creativity if the animal just snores its life away…….but then I’m reminded of the mayflies (Ephemerata) who live only one day, have no functional digestive tracts, and indulge in profligate sex (heck, the males have two penises) until their measly single day is done. Pity that evolution didn’t conjure up an ephemeral maycat…..I definitely would have adopted one of those from the shelter.

  54. 54
    Pseudonym says:

    Oh my. Why am I somehow not surprised that John Cole has a thing for the bitches?

  55. 55
    Karmus says:

    @Pseudonym: Now that I’ve had a chance to consider all this, I think I am prepared to give Cole the answer he is looking for. Yes, John, go for the bitches. B.R.E.A.M.

  56. 56
    Raven says:

    It’s nurture. . .Dawg.

  57. 57
    Montarvillois says:

    Been around dogs and cats all my long life, never heard of female dog/male owner theory. The hand that feeds the pet usually gets the nod, most often a female.

  58. 58
    Betty Cracker says:

    My long-suffering husband is the only male on the place, with a wife, a daughter, two female boxer dogs and seven hens. He keeps threatening to add a male dog just for reinforcement. Our first family dog was a very sweet male, but I never really noticed any difference in how they interact with humans that I could attribute to gender. It seems like a personality thing.

  59. 59
    JPL says:

    Is this the annual X-mas post?

  60. 60
    Schlemizel says:

    I have noticed that the female cats we have had all attach themselves to me. The one male cat we had favored the wifie so from that small sample size I’d think for cats opposites attract.

    Only ever had that one dog & was single at the time so who knows.

  61. 61
    RosiesDad says:


    The best temperament of gender explanation came to me from one of my clients (who is female).

    Female dogs are “Love me love me love me” and male dogs are “I love you I love you I love you.”

    I have had a few males and few females as pets (not to mention thousands of canine patients over the past 20+ years) and in my experience, this is pretty close to true.

  62. 62
    Randy P says:

    Somebody mentioned how they socialize with their own species. Female dogs aren’t pack leaders. I think that a male accepting you as leader is a different kind of bonding than a female and that may color things a little. But I think the differences are pretty subtle.

    When I think of big goofy dogs I tend to think of males. Yes my last dog was a female lab, and she was the goofiest most athletic dog I’ve ever personally lived with. Smarts and personality aren’t associated with any particular gender. Smartest dog and dumbest dog I ever knew were both males.

  63. 63
    furklempt says:

    My trainers would ditto everything @Anne Laurie said above (48).

    Anecdotally, we have 2 dogs (m and f) and 2 cats (both m). I am a female. Admittedly, my favorite dog is the girl pup, Karmann–though that probably has more to do with the fact that she’s the sweetest thing that’s ever lived, she was an intentional acquisition, and I’m a better temperamental match to her breeds (shepherd/smooth collie). The boy dog, Calvin, just showed up, nobody else would have him, was intact upon arrival (no longer!), and perhaps most egregiously is a hound. Aside: I have no idea why people keep these as pets. He’s a loud, neurotic, anxiety-ridden basket case. I love him in spite of the better judgement that tells me a dog requiring daily Prozac is generally incompatible with life.

    Both dogs love me to bits, but they react very differently to my male partner. Karmann takes total, goofy, ebullient advantage of him, whereas Calvin is aloof, and suspicious of everyone who isn’t me, including the Mr.

    The boy cats are both lovers, and very outgoing/friendly/doglike. My mum’s girlcat notsomuch.

  64. 64
    NorthLeft12 says:

    I had a female yellow Lab for sixteen years. I never had a dog in my life until then [I was about thirty] and my wife got her for our two daughters. Of course, April and I bonded for life and became devoted to each other. We now have a four year old male chocolate Lab, who is a completely different personality [think playful, energetic, demanding, and extroverted]where April was quiet, docile, obediant, and introverted. April made me a better owner for Gus, and Gus has responded by being ten times more challenging than April.

    In my limited personal experience, females have been “easier” to work with and live with than males. Note: I did the training and obediance classes with both dogs. April passed her two classes summa cum laude, Gus was allowed to proceed based on the fact that I paid my eighty bucks and showed up every week. We also did agility classes with Gus as part of the obediance classes. He [I] was alternately brutal and brilliant. We did get very good together by the fourth session. My wife did take a few classes with each dog and did as well and poorly as I did.

  65. 65
    WereBear says:

    @calabi-yeow: My question: Why did evolution favor an animal that sleeps 20 hours a day?

    The cat’s energy cycle is such that they store energy for long periods, then EXPLODE into action when the prey least expects it. While dogs in packs run down their prey, cats depend on gettin’ there fustest, so to speak. Cheetahs run like crazy… but not for very long.

    In my experience, dogs are slightly more sensitive to the m/f dichotomy because they are natural pack animals, and there is a boss boy and boss girl. A dog with Will to Power will naturally align with the opposite sex power.

    Cats are far more egalitarian, and less inclined to go strictly by the sexes. Still, our household is very very often lone girl cat glued to the side of my husband (and she’s a tortie, bossy as all heck) while the three boy cats are hanging with me.

  66. 66
    TrishB says:

    I’ve never noticed that it makes any difference. Vets and breeders always seem surprised when my family mentions that at the holidays, we have 7 very content female dogs just hanging out under the table. (4 standard schnauzers, 1 mini schnauzer, 1 dandie dinmont terrier, 1 pound puppy) The 8th dog is my male mini schnauzer who must be prevented from giving the Xmas tree the same treatment that he gives to the outdoor trees.

  67. 67
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @NorthLeft12: I see that I forgot to say that Gus and I are pretty much inseperable and are also devoted to each other. Too much my wife might say.

  68. 68
    Ramalama says:

    My dog was abandoned as a puppy in literally the middle of nowhere Quebec, along with his two sisters. Word got out to our SPCA (town of about 12,000 people in winter) and they went North to get them. It took them a day to capture them and take them in, with the two sisters defending their brother aggressively.

    My partner and I (both women) had wanted a female dog. The two sister dogs (sounds like they were Mormon but I assure you they were agnostic) were completely gorgeous. But the dog handler said they were still too wild. He estimated that they had been on their own for about 1 month and were then about 5 months old. But the male acclimated easily to humans, was gentle and very smart. He was the ugliest thing I’d ever seen. He didn’t even look like a Malamute. Dog handler (male) said, “He’s my best dog ever.” The dog was the only one not yelling, “Pick me!” but followed my partner with his eyes.

    We took a chance and got him. We took him to the dog salon where they washed him 5 times to get the smell out of him. And he became drop-dead gorgeous in short order. Buses with tourists have stopped on occasion to let the passengers take photos of the dog who looked like a wolf. And our dog is the best tempered dog with two females living in the house. He has a completely different love for our male neighbors than our female neighbors (humans). We’re glad we were wrong about male dogs. But this doesn’t answer your question other than just clogging up the internets with yet another anecdote.

    Sorry dude.

  69. 69
    sparrow says:

    I always liked male cats better, they seemed more likely have dumb but happy personalities. Then I got Mina, who is tiny, lythe, and clever as hell. She also likes to burrow under the covers and purr REALLY damn loud at night. I had my first dinner party in a new apartment and she proudly brought out a mouse that she caught and I was TOTALLY unaware even existed, thus putting me to shame before all of my friends for my lack of mouse-awareness and hunting skills. Obv. she is now my favorite cat ever.

  70. 70
    jt says:

    It’s not research, but I taught mark and reward based dog training (clicker training) for 16 years. I’ve probably worked with at least a thousand dog-human pairs, in classes and in private lessons. I’ve also lived with my own dogs – 4 females, 2 males, of 6 different breeds or mix of breeds and raised several service dog pups, 2 male, 1 female.

    I never noticed an obvious gender based pattern of how dogs responded to their owners.

    The characteristics of each dog and each human pair are SO complex, teasing out the effect of any one characteristic (such as gender matching) and controlling for all the others would be a very challenging research problem. Add in other family members (of whatever species) and you’ve got a BIG relationship knot to untangle.

    I’d be surprised if anyone has taken it on research-wise, at least in any validated way. There might be research out there on what humans THINK gender means for pets, though.

    Service dog organizations that work with matching dogs to owners might have some ideas about how gender plays into that, but that still is not science.

    What I did notice: Poor breeding (disregarding inheritable unwanted personality traits), general breed characteristics and early socialization (or lack thereof) all seemed to me to make a difference in which dogs easily bonded with their owners and responded to training.

    Past experience with animals and personality traits such as patience, consistency and empathy (or lack thereof) seemed to make a difference in how well humans bonded with their dogs and learned how to train them using reward-based techniques.

  71. 71
    WaterGirl says:

    @WereBear: I never realized Olwyn was a girl!

  72. 72
    Middle-Aged Fogey says:

    When I was growing up, my family only had male dogs. Our second poodle (a rescue dog) loved me more than my three sisters; so did the collie who replaced him after the Dane behind our house tore the poodle apart. Our third poodle, whom we brought in a month after getting the collie, gravitated toward my mother, partly for protection (the poodle was small) and partly because my mother did most of the feeding.

    Once we kids moved out, my parents bought a male bichon, who bonded with both parents; my father retired and could spend more time with Max than my mother, who was still working, but my mother fed Max. If my mother went out of town to visit her mother, Max would ignore her for several days upon her return as payback for abandoning her.

    After Max died (several years after my father died), one of my sisters found a female bichon (Sabina) for my mother. The two of them bonded tightly, but Sabina also bonded with me, because I dog-sat whenever my mother went out of town. When my mother died, it was only natural that Sabina come stay with me. She and I grew tighter, partly because Sabina developed abandonment issues when my mother died. (I showered last night in preparation to come to work this morning — I mostly telecommute, but sometimes I have to drive to the office an hour away — and Sabina peed on the carpet while I was showering because she knew I’d be leaving her alone in the house today. It’s not the first time she’s done that; she also pees once per hour whenever I leave the house at night. Fortunately for her and my carpet, I don’t get out much anymore ….)

    I’ve probably never been closer to a dog than I am to Sabina, but that’s due in part to the fact that she’s the only dog I’ve ever cared for by myself as an adult. All the same, whenever we see elderly women, even from a distance, during one of our walks, Sabina makes a beeline for them, as though she’s still searching for my mother three years after her death.

    Long guess short: It depends on the person and the dog.

  73. 73
    Rob says:

    Not to be a guilt trippy here but are you really going to blow your family off for Christmas? I mean I could see not spending three weeks, that’s crazy and even I’d kill myself if I had to spend three weeks with my parents. You can’t spend just a couple of days though? Aren’t your parents older?

  74. 74
    Peregrinus says:

    Anecdata says you’d be right. We had a male beagle for fourteen years that my dad, at best, treated like a speed bump.

    We now have a girl mutt my dad loves. So maybe it isn’t that female dogs are better for male owners – but that male owners are better for female dogs, capisce?

  75. 75
    WereBear says:

    @WaterGirl: Tortoiseshells are almost always girls. Orange tabbies, on the other hand, are about 70% boys.

    If coat colors can be sex-linked, I’m sure personality traits are too. And while I’ve encountered bossy boy cats, bossy girl cats far outnumber them.

  76. 76
    WaterGirl says:

    @WereBear: I am really bad with knowing what the different types of cats are called. I had to google Tortoiseshells and Orange tabbies. I still don’t even know what kind of cat my sweet Quiver was, stripey gray is what I would call him.

    So what do we call the kind of cats that your Tristan and my Willow are?

  77. 77
    WereBear says:

    @WaterGirl: Tristan most closely resembles an Ocicat, both in appearance and temperament.

    The basic brown tabby is Original Issue; that is why we see so many. Body type is just as important.

    While Ocicats are a rare breed, shorthairs and Siamese, the foundation breeds, are not. And then there’s Tristan’s sister… who is an orange tabby girl.

  78. 78
    1badbaba3 says:

    As a trained and housebroken male of the species (28 years and counting) I can safely say that your question is the pet owner equivalent to “Does this outfit make me look fat?”, or “You’re not going to watch football all day, are you?”

    The correct answer, of course, is the one that doesn’t get you killed.

    Also, too: Go down to the coast (for a few days anyway-seeing the ocean is always cool), you’ll have a few laughs. Maybe you can point and jeer at Joe Wilson, Jimmy DeMint, Blanche Graham, and Alvin Greene for additional kicks. Maybe feign a charge on Ft. Sumter, just to see how many idiots you can get to join in. Yee-haw! Jump General Lee, jump!

  79. 79
    Interrobang says:

    My dad has had two dogs in my lifetime, one male, and one female, and I really don’t see much of a difference between how they interact with him.

    Me, I have cats that apparently buck the stereotype. My first cat was a neutered black male who tended to be kind of lazy and aggressively friendly, but was also clever as hell. Over the years, he devised an ever-changing and expanding repertoire of behaviours guaranteed to get me out of bed, culminating in pulling books off my bookshelf (which was really something to see).

    Now I have a bossy tortoiseshell (female), who is also lazy and super cuddly and codependent (she likes to sleep under the covers with me, and I have to hug her while she’s doing it), and a male black and white one who is athletic, a superb hunter, and almost as smart as my previous cat. The tortoiseshell is sweet as anything (except when she’s demanding something *right now*), but dumb as an uprooted plant, and isn’t much given to hunting anything, unless it’s bugs.

    Personally, I think it’s just luck of the draw.

  80. 80
    ninja3000 says:

    My parents had a female Bouvier. The dog barely gave my dad a glance. But if you so much as talked just a little too loudly to my mom, the dog would have you on the ground in two shakes. And once a Bouvier has you in its jaws, they don’t let go.

    And my wife and I had a female German Shepherd named Tina. Tina liked me well enough, sure, but when my wife walked her along the streets in Lower Manhattan, Tina would constantly circle around her to form a protective zone. Nobody was ever stupid enough to challenge that dog…

  81. 81
    Felonius Monk says:

    Dood, I ain’t touching this. When a guy passes up 3 weeks in S.C. to stay in W.VA. in the winter to hang out with a pack of female dogs, to say the least, it raises one’s eyebrows. And the stated family issues — whew!

    John, you need some psychological counseling or a good bottle of single malt scotch. Oh yeah, Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays — your choice.

  82. 82
    InternetDragons says:

    I grew up in a family of veterinarians, worked in pet hospitals and kennels all through high school/undergrad, and have always had some combination of dogs/cats in my household.

    I’ve never seen anything that would lead me to decide that there’s anything gender-based in the way pets and people interact.

    In my biased opinion, gender doesn’t have much, or anything to do with it. It’s more about the beliefs and values you have about animals, combined with genetics and environment (in both the pets and their owners!).

    Either way, it’s always fun to hear folks’ stories about their pets.

    Re: family holidays. 3 weeks in a beach house with family sounds like hell. Still, I’d consider zipping down there for a few days — maybe Christmas Eve/Christmas day. Speaking as someone who lost their dad a couple of years ago, it’s more than worth it to spend at least that time with them.

  83. 83
    Larkspur says:

    @Keith G:

    …One can make a case unaltered cats and dogs have different sex-based behaviors….

    This is right, so we’re basically talking about four types of dog or cat: male/female, intact/neutered. As you say, when they get neutered makes a big difference, too.

    I think (and it’s hardly an original thought) we make a mistake to think of most dog-human situation in pack terms. In Animals Make Us Human, Temple Grandin reminds us that most dog-human relationships are more like families than packs, in that a dog needs a parent more than an alpha. She says:

    “…During evolution dogs went through a process called pedomorphosis, which means that dog puppies stop developing earlier than wolf cubs do….”

    And that leads us to the whole neotony discussion: dogs don’t really ever grow up, not with us. Wolves do, and they mostly go off and make new packs as mature adults, but dogs aren’t wolves any more.

    I think whether you get along better, or just prefer, female dogs or male dogs (assuming they’re neutered and you aren’t dealing with reproductive and breeding issues)is much more a matter of each of your individual personalities and inclinations.

    Cats are another story. Grandin says cats living together tend to form status hierarchies, primarily based on size. She says that the best combo to adopt for a two-cat household is a mama cat and a daughter cat.

    Successful dog/cat households seem to me to be accomplished when the dogs and cats choose to exist in alternate realities that may occasionally intersect, but don’t always have to. But the best fun is when they actually like each other. Kitty/dog snuggling is the best.

  84. 84
    Nazgul35 says:

    We had two girls and a boy cat (the very last we had to put to sleep on election day. One girl adored me (her daddy) and the other was her mommy’s girl.

    The boy started out as his daddy’s boy, but eventually came to be shared half and half by both of us.

    Hit or miss I say.

  85. 85
    AdamK says:

    People (like myself) who spend an inordinate amount of time alone with their pets tend to come up with idiosyncratic notions, which they then spin into eccentric theories.

    Dogs of both genders need smooches and treats as input, and provide delight and companionship as output. Is my theory.

  86. 86
    kabiddle says:

    Definitely a personality thing.

    Gender is big but dogs are like people.

  87. 87
    asiangrrlMN says:

    When I started looking for two black cats to adopt – I noticed that most of the ones I liked (by looks) were male. I don’t know why that is, but I did end up adopting two males who suit me to a T. Does it mean anything? Fuck all. I just thought I’d throw in my own story because why the hell not?

  88. 88
    Nikolita says:

    My ex and I have both a male and female cat. My female cat took longer to warm up to my ex, but I think that had more to do with her issues/personality than with his gender. I’ve had her since she was 4, and she’s a little over 10 now. My male cat we’ve had since he was a kitten, and he’s now a total fluffball for anyone regardless of gender. He’s just a very cuddly, playful cat with everyone. We got him at 3 months, and he’s 4 and a half now.

    Don’t know if that means anything, just wanted to share my experience with cats because everyone else is. ;)

  89. 89
    Ecks says:

    My mother’s observation was that generally speaking male cats and female dogs are friendlier. I’m seeing a lot more people arguing it this way round in this thread than the opposite (as opposed to the “it’s all just individual” brigade).

    Yeah, I put you all into tidy little boxes. I have no remorse.

  90. 90
    Ecks says:

    @Ecks: wow, that’s a lot of magic errors. Never seen that happen here before. woha.

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