It struck me one day when I was out for a hike with two of my best dog-owning friends and our combined eight dogs: Some people like female dogs best, and others like males. I was there with my two male dogs and my son’s male dog (whom I selected as a prospect for my son from my local shelter), whereas both of my friends have only female dogs (three and two, respectively). The longer I thought about it, the more the trend was apparent: every dog I’ve chosen for myself has been a male. And my two hiking companions said it was true for them, too; their “heart dogs” have all been females.
I’m currently fostering a litter of nine pitbull-mix puppies, seven of whom are female. I’ve had them for about four weeks now – long enough that I have sorted out their little personalities and quirks. Five of the nine are quick to detect when there is a little training session going on and they leap to volunteer, whereas the other four consistently decline these sessions in favor of playing among themselves. A couple of them are far more interested in exploring their environment than making a connection with the humans in it, though several more are little snugglebunnies who just want to sit in someone’s lap and exchange loving looks. One is already sort of a bully with her siblings. And one – who just happens to be one of the two males in the litter – is making me strongly consider whether I really do want only two dogs (as I have maintained for a number of years), or whether three makes far more sense. I am so in love with this boy! And of course it’s one of the only two boys. There is just something about his calm, stolid demeanor and the focused attention he pays to me that is immensely attractive to me in a dog – and while the odds are good that there is a female in this 8- or 9-week-old litter with the same trait, I just haven’t “seen” her yet; it’s this guy I find my eye constantly drawn to, and my heart flopping around for.
I wonder: How many of you have same-gender or mixed-gender “packs” in your home? Have you had “heart dogs” of both genders, or only one? And if you are like me, and have a strong preference for dogs of one gender or another, what is it about male or female dogs that you most enjoy?