Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pooches: Gender Issues

The other week, the idea was brought up that there could be several difficulties having same-sex dogs in a multi-dog household. We knew about our own experiences, but I was also curious about experiences other people might be having with the dogs in their households.
I had dogs with my family, but wasn't until I adopted Miss M that I became aware of issues with same-sex pairing. Being a Bully Breed, and being a big bully herself, I knew if we adopted a second dog it would definitely need to be a male dog to tone down domination issues. The summer we were looking to adopt, it was very difficult to find an adult male pittie in the entire city of Chicago. Our search took us all the way to Kalamazoo, Michigan where we were lucky enough to stumble upon our Mr. B: the perfect submissive male.
When we were looking to foster, we knew this opened us to potentially disrupting the "pack order" and bringing in same-gender dominance issues. We wanted to get a submissive dog that would put up with Miss M's bullying. Since Wilma is another female, we've been careful to teach her the rules of the house and hierarchy (Miss M eats first) and to keep them separately crated when we're gone. Our trainer told us that younger dogs could could try to move up the ranks at any time, and that girl-dog disagreements can be especially rough.So far, we haven't had any problems with the dogs, though I agree it is a good reminder to remember how the dog-world works with dominance issues.
I have seen so many of our dogs friends with great "packs" of animals of differing ages and genders, and I was just curious: has gender ever been an issue in anyone's household?


Anonymous said...

When I was looking into adopting my nursing home companion, Murray, an Akita/GSD mix, I thought the main hurdle to the adoption would be how he reacted to the horses that live here. Little did I know that the problem would be with Petey, who didn't want another male dog in HIS territory. On the other hand, Petey gets along fine with Jordie, who is not exactly a shrinking violet, maybe because Jordie is so much smaller?

Unknown said...

I on purpose got a male and female due to the same sex issues I heard about. Boy was I wrong hahaha My male and Female have had horrible issues - at times I wish I would have gone with the same sex. I think it also boils down to the dogs personalities as well. Haylie was laid back till Fred came along and then it was a battle for top dog, Several trainers also told me that since they are so close in age and going through stages together that can be worse - not sure if I believe that or not.

Kate said...

Before we had Nemo, we had 3 female dogs (!) and had no issues. We actually had no idea how "weird" this was until we started talking to people about adopting a new dog. Molly and Melanie just don't care. We didn't set out to get a male dog when we adopted Nemo because Molly and Mel are so chill, although the rescue we worked with was more comfortable with adopting a male to us.

Now that we have Nemo though, it turns out that he doesn't do so well with other male dogs, so that's something we have to keep in mind. I understand that female-female aggression can be a big issue, but we just haven't experienced it. I think so much is dependent on the particular dogs (and I think age is a big part of it too) that you really have to take it on a case by case basis.

Anonymous said...

I have no worthwhile input regarding gender issues but in response to your "Moooo!" question...

It was all a roose ;)

Waggin on,

SissySees said...

Oh, yes. Before the adorable, dear fur-girls, we had my ultra-alpha Jack Russell male and my husband's male basset, who awoke one day and decided by golly, he was tired of that little brat acting as though he owned the joint.

We neutured first the basset, the the terrier, and STILL had epic dog-on-dog aggression. To be honest, we did a lot of things wrong. My husband REFUSED to honor pack order, and would give the basset treats first sometimes, and even snatched back toys the terrier had "stolen" from the "poor boy."

I think Hound Girl is onto something with personalities. Now, our sweet basset girl is what I jokingly call our passive alpha. She really WANTS to be in charge, but will defer to a strong alpha in group doggy settings.

The Slimmer Pugs, Kitties, and Mama said...

Hi. My name is Mindy (Mama #2) and I have 5 pugs...AGE difference is a huge factor with the gender issues...My first pugs George and Gracie (almost 5) had no problems. Toby (9 months younger) gave George a little bit of jealous issues...but only for about a month...he is quite submissive to George. Fast-track to Lily who is 1.5 years and we added Mimi when Lily was 9 months...we have been having major difficulty with Lily ever since...not only did I read up that she is juggling the dominance ladder and trying to move up her rank but bringing in a female...not submissive, playful as heck...was not a great idea...she also contends with losing her "baby" position. All in all, I love my 5 pugs...but I think if you keep it around 3...and one of the same-sex is submissive and keeps in toe...then no problems. Around the age of 3, pugs just 2 more years to go. Lily mainly is good 99% of the time...just when food or walks are involved does she get miffed. I hope this information helps. If the two females do get into tufts, break them immediately so no one gets hurt but be careful that you don't either...pugs can be as hard to separate and just as injurious as the bigger breeds such as your Pits. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm not much help. Flash is so easy to get along with I don't think it matters who or what we bring in the house!

Anonymous said...

I've been very fortunate with the Brindle Bro's - they get along with pretty much everything. I have noticed that as Louis matures, he is less tolerant of other dominant male dogs, but it hasn't been a big issue.

The family's female pit, however, is another story entirely, and the golden retriever we had before her was the same way, interestingly. Neither of them could stand other female dogs even being in their lines of sight.

little princess Luna~ said...

we have been fortunate as well. our 3 pups get along great and i guess in their little pack they know what the order is and are happy where they are. :)

that last picture is adorable--i just love ms. m's eyes~!!


Anonymous said...

Mayzie's mom here. I really think a lot of it is personality. But when I volunteered for a rescue, we would try not to place a female in a home with an existing female for the reasons you describe. The order was: 1) opposite sex; 2) 2 males; 3) 2 females. If we DID place 2 females together, we would spend a lot of time discussing the possibility of them not getting along.

The interesting thing to me with Mayzie is that Ranger is definitely "top dog" in our house. He was there first, he's older, and it's important to him to be top dog (ha!). Mayzie is naturally very submissive, I think. BUT with our neighbor, Hope (Mayzie's frequent play date), Mayzie is definitely establishing herself as top dog in that relationship. Probably because it's Mayzie's backyard and Hope is very young and submissive. But they get along GREAT. It's Ranger who wants to eat Hope - ha! It'll be interesting to see how their relationship develops as Hope gets older, though.

Sounds like things are going really well with Miss M and Wilma, though. I don't think you're going to have anything to worry about.


Those Elgin Pugs said...

We are a house of three pugs!!
We rescued them all as adults.
Izzy, our first puggie (female)
5 months later... rescued
Anakin, our second puggie (male)
7 months from Anakin & 1 yr from Izzy
came Josie (female) our 3rd installment (HA)

Izzy and Anakin get along great!!
The dynamics between those two are hysterical.
Josie is sort of the odd man out. Izzy is the Alpha of the house and Anakin is her Shadow.
Anakin will tolerate Josie until Izzy hones in. Izzy just never took to Josie.
Because there are three of them it is a pack..even as innocent as pugs (yeah sure) they have attacked her and I just have to keep a watchful eye on them and when we are not home they are in seperate rooms.

Rescued Pittie Family said...

Since adopting LuLu and Abbey we have not had any problems with Haleigh.
But Haleigh knows we're the mommy and daddy aka Pack Leaders and when we tell her to calm down or to stop ____ insert whatever negative behavior she is doing she listens.
Greighson Andrew on the other hand has given us a run for our money as parents/pack leaders.
I think it really matters on the dynamics of the entire household. I don't think anything applies to all situations and you have to evaluate your pack - including the humans - in what you can do and not do.

Y'all are fantastic pack leaders so it does not surprise me that you have had smooth sailing so far. I 100% have faith y'all will have no problems.

Bobby said...

Well after all the foster dogs, male and female that have come to John, there has only been one that we could not let stay. She was great outside with all dogs and played with little Pip. But in the house she just wanted John and went stiff and showed all her teeth if we went near him. As she was a staffy we dare not try to work through it as we would normaly do.So we think male or female makes no diffrence.

Shauna (Fido and Wino) said...

My dogs are 2 years (male) and 1 year 9 months (female). All was well until recently when my female dog decided she wasn't cool being on the bottom rung all the time. Mostly they are fine, but every now and then my "little" girl gets all, "outta my face!" on my littler boy dog.

It's all kinds of fun.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes think people focus too much on gender when it should be personality of the specific dogs that needs to be considered. For example, in the past we had a male and female dog who got along great, and at one time fostered a female greyhound. Our mixed breed female got along great with the female greyhound, but our male greyhound didn't really like her (I think because she was always taking the bed he wanted!). Later, we still had the mixed-breed female and adopted 2 10 year old male greyhounds (were actually from the same litter although did not live together again until after their racing careers were over). One of the males was very sweet and submissive, the other was dominant so they got along fine with each other. Our female dog is also quite dominant though, so did not get along at all with the more dominant greyhound.

Mary said...

I've heard that female-female households can have more difficulties than male-male households (if the males are neutered), but that's just anecdotal information. Levi has never met a dog he hasn't liked, whether it be male or female, so I'm not too concerned about him. I do worry about adopting a younger (1 y.o., I would never adopt a puppy) male dog that will grow more DA as he matures.

And since my dream is to one day have two dogs and foster a dog, that's a whole new ball of wax, as you know. If I can get my husband onboard with it, I would like to foster ferals, which tend to be scared of everything. I'm hoping that a feral dog won't disrupt pack dynamics too much.

EGG said...

My 1st adopted dog (as an adult)Wiley (Sheppard/greyhound) is a female and then when I went back 2 years later to adopt another one who is also female Mona (apbt/rotti)it was the 1st time I ever heard of 2 females not getting along (all dogs in my youth were male) and they tried to discourage me from adopting her but when they meet there were no problems and over 2 years later they are the best of friends. And a few months ago we got our "accident" dog Chewy (apbt/mastiff) and they all get along great I think as long as you have good supervision which should happen with any animal no matter if you have 1 or 100 (as well as kids) and proper training and that they KNOW that you are the Alpha then there should not be any problems.

brooke said...

Im always curious about this. I know down the line (way down) Id like a second dog. I think if we were to do a second dog it would have to be a boy because Darwin is a total alpha female. But I'm not a huge fan of boy dogs (red rockets disturb me) and neither is Jason so we'd most likely get another girl, but I dont know how it would be to have 2 females, unless we could find a super submissive one.

Martine said...

Wilma is so cute, I love how much smaller she is!! Does she ever venture to the tepee?

At one point we did have two girl dogs, one was a pit/lab mix and the other a basinji mix... Judy the pit/lab thoguht Skippy was her puppy, it was really cute. They weren't even that far apart in age. Sometimes I think it has to do with the specific dogs, because when Judy was gone we got Sherman the staffy bull and he was a horn ball for Skippy bugging her ALL the time. THen when Skip was gone we got Baily another girl staffy and they got along marvelously.

If we ever get a house we would like to get a bigger third dog (possibly a bully breed) and we don't know what we would get a girl or a boy!

Keep up the good work with sweet Wilma!!

Two French Bulldogs said...

We never had problems. Lily rules this entire house.
Benny ( & Lily)
you guys are so darn cute!!

Mia said...

We have two females in our house. Lilo is a 7 year old pug and Madie a 5/6 year old shepherd mix. Madie was here first, but that doesn't stop Lilo from attempting to usurp the throne! Every once in awhile there is a dust up, but for the most part they do really well together.


dm said...

we only have the one dog (girl) but we have sat for several other dogs at times, and the worst was the male. My mom's pup comes over all.the.time and we have no girl on girl issues with the two, but when Billy comes over to visit, it's a raucous time all the way. I think it depends a lot on personalities. (Our breed is sheperd/rottie if that makes a difference to anyone)

Lola and also Franklin, too said...

Lola's Blog Mom here:

Back many years ago the conventional wisdom was that it was only putting two males together that might be a problem. We had more female dogs than males over the years and babysat for others while friends were away and never had an issue. We did take time to introduce them outside, rather than in the house and if there was initial hostility - and sometimes there was - we were always able to get everyone to make friends. Nowadays we're more cautious about everything and more conscious of what sort of dogs we're dealing with. I think it's true what Mayzie's Mom said. It depend on their personalities. If Miss M is dominant you probably have to be careful to only have submissive females or males with her.

brooke said...

if you send me an email i can forward all the training tips Hsin-Yi sent me. bazumi at gmail dot com
She also has a long comment on this post:
with some information also.
I don't know if it's just Darwin's age, and she's growing up and settling down, but the training has been going well!

Coleen L. said...

I have my dog Reese because of same-sex issues in her previous household. My trainer told me that spaying can actually increase aggression in females (whereas it decreases aggression in males), and sometimes, but not always, female-female pairings do not work well.

houndstooth said...

Gender hasn't been an issue in our pack ever! We tend to have more females than males, but we are very careful about what dog we add into the mix and how we do it. We let them work it out to a point, as long as it stays civil, but nastiness is not accepted or tolerated at any time, and the girls know it. As much as I wait on them and spoil them, I still maintain my status at the top of the pack. I've heard a lot of people say that you shouldn't have too many of the same sex together, but I've seen males and females fight, too. I think if you really know your dogs, you can have pretty good luck with pack additions.

That being said, we are also very careful with things for a long time after we bring a new dog in. Morgan will be crated for a long time while we're both gone to work, partly because we worry about Lilac being knocked down by her puppy enthusiasm and partly because she seems blissfully unaware when Bunny and Blueberry give her signals that they've had enough or don't like something she's doing. So, I'd much rather err on the side of caution.

1000 Goldens said...

You are so smart to think things through, and to help Wilma understand her place in the pack. You are good role models for doggie parents to have successful families :)

ForPetsSake said...

Interesting question. As a vet tech, I hear a lot of assumptions made about gender and "disagreements". Personally, I've always had female dogs and I find that the attitudes of the individual dogs themselves is far more important. My oldest, Arwen,a Siberian husky, runs the show - no questions asked.
She did badly with our social-climbing Rottie, Raven who has since passed - small scuffles, disagreements. These incidents blew up just before Raven was diagnosed with lymphoma. It's as though Arwen knew she was ill and in her eyes, felt that Raven was a drain on potential resources. Scuffles turned into full-blown fights. We had quite a problem on our hands.
After Raven passed, we brought into our home Nyxie, a German Shepherd puppy. Arwen took to her beautifully, like a mother teaching her own puppy the ropes. They are inseparable but Nyxie does not challenge her openly, EVER. There are the occasional toy steals, licking to get her out off a desired spot, but always with polite doggy manners and deference. So far, so good.
I also feel that after what we went through with Raven, my hubby and I became better leaders with a greater understanding of dog to dog signals, communication. It's key to be aware of this at all times! Good luck!

Granite State Pet Sitting said...

Well having 5 dogs, 3 being females and 2 males. It can get kinda crazy at times, trust me we have had a couple of nasty dog fights over the years. My Toy poodle is the Alpha over everyone, which is kinda funny. My 90 pound male Grover is afraid of her and will be submissive towards her.

The Daily Pip said...

I live in a single dog home so can't be of much help here, sorry! I do love that last picture! Very sweet!

Your pal, Pip

Wyatt said...

Look at those sweet faces....we don't see any problem.


Peppy Sheppys said...

In our house the BOYS are the most friendly with each other and with other dogs. Ethel Jean is a little iffy, especially with other girls. I have a friend with SIX boys and ONE girl and sometimes the boys mix it up. I think same-sex dogs may be more likely to mix it up but I think a lot of it is the individuals (like you found two dogs w/compatible personalities).

And any rumors you may have heard that we sheppys like to snuggle with our pittie brudder are totally false. No matter what the photos might show.

Sheps w/pep

Sue said...

With ten dogs in the house, I keep an eye on them for any aggression. Fudge is a bully. He likes to get in the other males faces, but he's not a fighter and the few times Noah has gotten angry and gone after him, Fudge is the one who gets hurt. Just scratches and bruises.

Samba is the leader and she keeps pretty good order. I have to watch the female Porties when they're around Morgan. They know she's not one of them and they will start getting rough with her. I don't tolerate that and we've only had one incident.

Kari in Alaska said...

we've had two girl dogs up until we got BC and it wasn't an issue for us. The sisters love each other

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Anonymous said...

my female APBT had no trouble accepting a male APBT... she's pretty mellow in general; when the boy would redirect onto her after getting excited, she'd just turn aside. When I added a male (intact) SBT into the mix, things changed. The SBT adores and is submissive to the female APBT, but i was only just able to forestall some nasty fights when the male APBT tried to redirect on him; his attitude became "oh yeah, you and what man's army?" I'm careful now not to let any desirable toys or food get between them, and only one at a time can go out to chase the yard bunnies. Without anything to compete over, they live in harmony.

Dexter said...

I always thought opposite sex was better. That is why I was hoping for a live in girlfriend, but I got stuck with stupid PeeWee instead. I did find him to be getting a bit in my face but after he got his wee labranards chopped off he was much better company (I am keeping my nards thank you very much).

That said, two gals would worry me. You know, us guys are just so much easy going, right? But lots of gals live together just fine in blog land as long as they know the rules.


Anonymous said...

I'm a boy and my brother Brady is a boy, and he's the dominant one in our house. We also currently have two foster sisters and at any given time we have 3 or 4 friends sleeping over. My life has been like this ever since I met my Mommy, so I'm used to it. :)

Jeremy Conner said...

Hopped over from the blog hop! Pitties in the city, I love it!

Anonymous said...

We have three chow mixes (all males), plus two foster dogs right now (one female chocolate lab, and one male border collie mix).

They do great together - but issues definitely pop up if pack order accidentally gets upset, and if we have a few rainy days in a row and the dogs don't get enough exercise (this is especially evident in Dog #1).

Also - we feed them separately. I wish we could feed them together, as feeding time is quite a process right now, but there is food aggression if they eat too close to one another.

This might seem a little nutty to some, but I love being a foster household and I think it's worth it! :)

terra said...

For my two males both bullies, I don't see it as being gender, but rather pack order.

Lucky, who is an older foundling, will yield to Kohei, who is younger and the resident dog. Where things get hairy is over resources, which Kohei doesn't care if you are female or male, younger or older. If he declares something as his, it is his, period. If you don't heed his declaration, he will scrap to get his point across.

We had some scary fights over stuff and even me. Structure, picking up toys and other "stuff" that was of value and making sure that each boy is treated equally and not favored is what has helped to work out the issues, and also L-theanine and melatonin has helped also.

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