Updated: June 29th, 2022
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If you are looking at adopting an adorable golden retriever, you may reach a point in the process where you wonder which is a better choice for you, male dog vs female dog?
The reality is that unless you are planning on breeding your dog, or you already have another dog at home, it doesn’t really matter. While male golden retrievers are slightly larger, and females can be a little more prone to certain health concerns, their personalities and intelligence are equal. If you adopt a goldie of either sex you will find yourself with an intelligent and loyal dog that is easy to train, eager to please, downright gorgeous, and sheds everywhere.
Let’s take a closer look at the fine differences between male and female golden retrievers, and the principal things to consider when trying to choose which might be right for you.
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Key Differences Between Male And Female Golden Retriever
The main difference between male and female golden retrievers is that males tend to be a bit larger. Males will generally reach between 23 and 24 inches in height and weigh between 65 and 75 pounds, though they can be as heavy as 95 pounds.
Females are a bit smaller, usually measuring between 21.5 and 22.5 inches and weighing 55 to 65 pounds.
If the size is important to you, then you might want to choose between a male and a female dog on that basis. Additionally, if you are looking for a dog of a certain size it is worth speaking to the breeder, who may specialize in larger or smaller goldies.
Female and male golden retrievers do have differences in appearance that go beyond size. Males tend to have stockier bodies with broader heads and snouts. They also have thicker hair, especially around their neck and chests, which can look a bit like a lion’s mane.
Females are leaner in general and have narrower heads and snouts. They also have thinner hair with a more feathered appearance, but that doesn’t mean they shed any less than their male counterparts. All goldens tend to be heavy shedders regardless of gender.
Reproduction & Hormones
The most obvious area where male and female dogs of all breeds differ is in their reproductive systems. Obviously if you are planning on breeding, you may want a male or female dog specifically for that purpose.
If you aren’t keen on breeding your dog, then you will have different concerns about their sexual health. Female dogs enter their heat cycle about twice a year, and during this time they will need to be kept away from other dogs. Male dogs are ready to go most of the time, and they can lose control of themselves when they encounter a female dog in heat. They are much more likely to make escape attempts and put themselves in danger while tracking a female in heat.
Potent male dog hormones also mean that male dogs can be more likely to do things such as mark their territory, hump people, other animals, furniture, and the air, and display alpha male behavior. Controlling these behaviors is about training, though, and goldies are highly trainable.
If you are planning on having your dog spayed or neutered, gender matters even less. While it does not completely remove hormone-related behaviors from dogs, the procedure does diminish them and make them much more controllable.
Some experienced goldie owners claim they can see differences in the personality and behavior of male and female golden retrievers, but the evidence is circumstantial, and there always seems to be someone out there with an opposite experience. Nevertheless, it is worth considering.
Some people believe that female golden retrievers tend to be easier to train. This is often linked with the fact that female goldies reach maturity sooner, so they are just a bit more pliable during those important training months. Whether this makes a difference in the long term is unclear.
Others suggest that male goldies tend to be more loyal, or clingier, and are more eager to spend time with their people; however, there is no suggestion that female goldens are aloof. The breed in general is very loving and enjoys spending as much time with their family as possible.
While some statistics suggest that male dogs are six times more likely to bite than female ones, research suggests that this is less about nature and more about nurture. Humans have a tendency to anthropomorphize their dogs (treat them like humans), and therefore encourage and expect different behaviors. Because of this, pet parents are more likely to accept aggressive behavior in male dogs as normal and less likely to train it out.
When you research golden retrievers, you will see that they are vulnerable to a range of health issues, as is common for purebred dogs. This includes hip and elbow dysplasia, retinal cataracts, epilepsy, and cancer. This does not mean that there is a high chance that your dog will suffer from any of these ailments, but they are things that your dog should be screened for.
Female golden retrievers have a few more possible health issues than males. This includes an increased risk of hip dysplasia for unspayed dogs and an increased likelihood to develop ocular myasthenia and adrenocortical insufficiency, but breeders do their best to control for these factors.
Golden retrievers are generally healthy and have a lifespan of 10-12 years, which is about normal for dogs of their size.
Read our guide to the best age to spay or neuter a golden retriever for their health.
Do You Have Other Dogs At Home?
One area where gender may make a difference is if you plan on introducing a new golden into a home that already has a dog. Generally speaking, dogs tend to get along better with other dogs when they are of the opposite sex. It is probably linked to balancing hormones and natural competitiveness.
If you already have a dog at home, then, you might want to consider getting a golden of the opposite gender as a counterbalance.
Are male or female golden retrievers more affectionate?
While anecdotal evidence suggests that male golden retrievers might be a little more affectionate than their female counterparts, generally speaking, goldies are a loving, loyal, and affectionate breed, whether male or female.
Are male or female golden retrievers calmer?
Female golden retrievers may appear calmer than male dogs because they reach maturity sooner and so pass through the excitable puppy phase a bit faster, but as adult dogs, they tend to have very similar energy levels and levels of playfulness.
Should I get a male or female dog?
Aside from questions of breeding, gender is not a good indicator of how appropriate a dog will be as a pet. More important factors are breed characteristics, which will dictate size, trainability, and how easy they are to care for in general. Also, if you are adopting an adult dog, their previous lifestyle will be a significant factor.
Are male golden retrievers protective?
Both male and female golden retrievers are highly protective of their families, but they are also smart enough to know the difference between new people and threatening ones. They are much less likely to get unnecessarily aggressive than some other breeds.
Are female dogs less aggressive?
In terms of nature, female dogs are not less aggressive than male dogs, but in terms of nurture, they might be. People tend to anthropomorphize their dogs, which leads to different behavior expectations. For this reason, male dogs can learn that a bit more aggression is acceptable.
It is understandable to assume that male and female golden retrievers might be quite different and that you should carefully consider which gender is right for you, but the reality is that there are fewer significant differences between the sexes than you might imagine.
Male golden retrievers are larger, stockier, and have a thicker coat, while the females are smaller, lighter, and finer. Female goldens may also be susceptible to a few more health conditions, but they are still healthy dogs with the same lifespan as their male counterparts.
Obviously, their reproductive systems are different which will matter if you are breeding, but it does not make a huge difference to their behavior especially if they have been spayed or neutered. Behaviors such as territory marking can usually be controlled through training.
Beyond this, there is no difference between the wonderful personalities of male and female golden retrievers, and they both make excellent family pets.
Do you have opinions on the difference between male and female golden retrievers? Share them with the community in the comments section below.