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Some thoughts on the "I want a girl puppy" phenomenon

These two most recent litters, like litters past, are getting the same “I want a girl” inquiries that have become commonplace for us. It happens so frequently in fact, I recently posed the question to a Breeder Group I participate in, with the intent to discern if its just me or do other breeders experience this as well. I would say a good 80% of our prospective clients are dead set on a female pup, 10% want a male, and the remaining 10% have no gender preference. Almost all of the breeders who participated in the discussion reported the same.

I always ask “Why a girl?” when interviewing families, and I get a variety of answers. Some say it’s because they’ve always had females and it just feels natural to continue that trend. Some tell me that it’s because girls are “easier”, and surprisingly enough I get that response from first time puppy owners. That really leaves me scratching my head.

So here are my own personal thoughts on the girl versus boy question. My experience with girl vs. boy is a bit different from a “pet” owner’s, as all but one of our ten dogs are intact. I have a different set of “rules” when it comes to my girls and boys. The girls of course go through a heat cycle, which is messy. Did I mention messy? And cycling requires very special attention, regardless of whether or not they will be bred. The biggest obstacle with that is separation. The girls want to be bred and the boys really really really want to do the breeding. That has me playing musical dogs to ensure that the correct and intended breedings are the only ones that take place. During that time, I have a very messy young lady who is restless because she wants to visit with the fellas, and I have three intact boys vying for her attention. This puts them in direct competition with each other, and can easily escalate into a fight if the proper separation isn’t in place. So now we’re up to four dogs that have to be separated. Girls usually cycle together, so there can be one or two more in season at the same time. Now we’re talking 6 dogs out of 10 with out of the norm requirements. The girls are restless, and the boys are hiking and peeing on everything (and I do mean everything), howling, off their feed and being a general nuisance. Sound like fun?

All of our pups are placed with a strict spay/neuter contract. The families who take our pups home won’t experience what I’ve just described. Once desexed, the male/female question is pretty much put to rest. Many clients indicate they don’t want a male because he will mark. Not so with a neutered male, especially if he is not regularly exposed to an intact female who is in season. Conversely, clients who insist on a girl are rarely aware that the female dog’s urine kills that beautiful lawn they’ve worked so hard to maintain. And that is a fact, regardless of whether the female has been spayed or not.

I’ve had clients tell me they don’t want a male because they are the more aggressive gender. That can be true when we’re talking about intact dogs, but that isn’t the case with our pups placed as pets. A dog pack in the wild, and domesticated dog packs will always have an Alpha. I think it might surprise many new puppy owners to know that the Alpha is always a female. Always. She is The Queen, and takes her role very seriously. Gypsy is our Alpha at Golden Valley Doodles, and I will tell you now - not one single dog here will challenge her. They know better. She does not run around barking and snapping at the others, and she is in no way aggressive. Mostly she is a lazy gal, and has the Beta girls (her minions) do the dirty work. But she does keep order in the ranks without raising a paw. It’s nature.

When it comes to my personal preference for a pet, my pick is always the male dog. My boys (neutered and intact) are more loving and affectionate than my girls. When I call for the dogs to Come, the boys are always first to obey the command. They tend to be more stable in mood than the girls, generally speaking. They are often my comedians - funny, goofy, and most definitely big softies. My girls on the other hand, well they are affectionate too. When they want to be, that is. Much like a cat, they are affectionate on their own terms. They can tend to be on the grumpy side if something isn’t to their liking. They are opinionated, and because they are women, can be a tad manipulative. My girls are the resident experts when it comes to giving The StinkEye, and man you ought to see The Sulk when they don’t get their way. Sheesh.

I’ve had a couple of surgeries over the past few years, and my Buddy flat out refused to leave my side while I was recovering. The girls took absolutely no interest in me other than noting I smelled a little different. But my main man Budders - he would only leave my side long enough to go out for a quick pee. He didn’t touch his food until I was up and mobile again. Now that is love and devotion and the textbook definition of loyal.

We don’t host Puppy Selection Day until our pups are 4-5 weeks old. I try to keep clients in an open mindset ... many times the puppy will pick you rather than the other way around, regardless of gender, color or any other characteristic one might be set on. I’ve had clients come for Puppy Selection intent on taking home a girl, and ending up with a boy by choice. And while it happens the other way around as well, it’s more rare.

Given you all some food for thought? With all the myths around the Boy vs. Girl debate, what it really all boils down to is personal preference. It’s not that one is better than the other - it’s which puppy “speaks” to you. And you will know when it happens! Regardless of a client’s desire to have one gender over the other, one thing I can say with absolute certainty: be it boy or girl, a Golden Valley Doodle will bring joy to your life!

- Shannon

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