I'm considering adopting a male dog. I've only ever had females pets.
April 19, 2018 8:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering adopting a male dog. I've only ever had female pets. What do I need to know?

I lost my beloved fur baby Raina last week. I am the sort of person who needs another pet RIGHT NOW. I have been looking exclusively at female Rottweilers, but a male has become available (search for Taz) that meets pretty much all of my criteria, except for the fact that he has a penis.

So here's what I know about male dogs: they mark furniture and dominance hump. I detest those two things. Do all male dogs mark and hump? What do I need to know about male dogs, and do I even bother, because my clear preference is for a female?

Bonus problem: I have found a few female dogs I would like to adopt, but the rescue organizations that have them are sooooo slow responding. Some haven't even bothered to write me back at all. One went through the trouble of calling my vet and all my references, and got so far as to schedule a home visit, and then....nothing. This incredibly frustrating How do I deal with the waiting and unknowing part?

Bonus bonus problem: Our other dog Thea, has regressed into her very fearful shell without Raina's calm and steady doggy presence to guide her. She is lethargic and avoiding contact. She just eats and goes back to her bed. Any tips on how to pep her up?

I know there are a lot of asks in this question. Apologies for that. I'm not terribly focused at present.
posted by msali to Pets & Animals (27 answers total)
I got my first male dog after a lifetime of all female pets and I was sort of worried about all this too. He does sometimes get humpy, but not especially more than the dominant female dog we had growing up. And he has never marked furniture.

I think probably the best thing you can do is go meet him and see what you think. If you don't feel like he is a good fit for you and Thea, I would pass and wait for the right pup to come along through other avenues. It would be a disservice to all of you to rush him home and then find out he's not actually what you want, but feel stuck and responsible for him. Is a trial run with him a possibility? I know a lot of shelters do a trial period where you can bring the dog home and see how they fit into that environment and what their behavior is like there.

So sorry on your loss and best of luck to you finding a new pup!
posted by chatongriffes at 8:32 AM on April 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've had and/or been around plenty of male dogs in my day, and none of them marked furniture or "dominance humped" anything. The only marking they do is spreading their urine around the neighborhood when taken on a walk. Mainly, you need to make sure you neuter male dogs timely for their health and happiness.

I've found much bigger differences between breeds and individual dogs than I have between male and female dogs in any way that I could generalize. I've known the sweetest most mellow male dogs you could ever know, and I've known female dogs who were absolutely driven to be dominant. And the opposite. And everything in between. That said, if you prefer female dogs I don't see any reason you shouldn't hold out for a female dog. I would think that finding a dog who gets along with your existing dog is far and away the most important consideration.
posted by slkinsey at 8:32 AM on April 19, 2018 [7 favorites]

Most male dog issues are pretty quieted down if the male is neutered. Humping and marking aren't things that neutered males do all that much, and both behaviors are pretty easily changed with a small amount of training.
posted by xingcat at 8:33 AM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yea, neuter (as early as a vet recommends) and you'll be fine. They may be a bit *larger* than a female of the same breed and, yes, they will behave slightly differently on walks in that they may want to pee on more things, more often, even after they are completely out of urine (COME ON JACK, YOU'RE ON E OLD MAN) but that's about it.

Our male dog has a proclivity to hump other dogs (despite being fixed from when we found him as a stray at one year old) at the dog park but only in a good natured way, if that makes any sense. He has a preference for puppies/younger dogs, ideally male with white fluffy fur (you do the math, we've given up), that can make dog park visits a bit less fun but it tapers off after about 15 mins once playtime gets ramped into high gear. But I think he's the exception to the fact that timely neutering mostly puts a damper on the whole humping thing.

Beyond that, they'll be the same, perhaps a *bit* less loving/doe eyed but that's probably red car syndrome and us projecting but I think there may be something to it.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:43 AM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

We have a neutered yellow lab. He has never marked, never peed inside at all after easy housebreaking. He will very very occasionally hump, but only when people are playfighting or roughhousing and everyone included him is very excited. (like a couple of times a year.)

I love him so much and he's so sweet and easy going, that I'm almost hesitant to get female dogs in the future.
posted by mercredi at 8:44 AM on April 19, 2018

So sorry about your sweet Raina!

I have a male dog (who's neutered), he has never marked inside the house (he's peed in the house once in 6 years when he got way too excited racing around with his best friend dog and lost track of the fact he was indoors). He does like to pee lots of times on a walk.

My dog also doesn't hump very much -- he'll sometimes hump the air if he's really psyched about going for a walk or something, but he settles down quickly, and he'll hump me if I do push ups in front of him. But, that's it, so I've never bothered to train him out of it, but I imagine it wouldn't be hard to do.
posted by snaw at 8:46 AM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Male dogs I've known have mostly seemed more willing and "good dog"y than female dogs, so I'm not sure if there is any male dogs are this, female dogs are that which is actually grounded in fact. My male dogs were not markers or humpers, even before being neutered.
posted by glitter at 8:47 AM on April 19, 2018

My Blu is a neutered male greyhound-mix and in the two years since I rescued him he hasn't humped anything. Mostly because he's a grumpy old man. He does, however, definitely like to try to pee on as many things as possible on a walk, even when the tank is completely empty!

However, my friend's un-neutered 2-year-old 75kg Leonberger is definitely a humper and a rough player.

On balance, I don't think you've got anything to worry about - meet the dogs you're interested in, and you'll find out pretty quickly if their personalities clash with your expectations.
posted by A Robot Ninja at 8:50 AM on April 19, 2018

His profile says already been neutered. Is he marking now?

He's a beautiful dog.

Our family's neutered male dog never humped or marked indoors. Since reaching adulthood (he's a sharp-toothed Westie who as a puppy thought every human finger was a mouse for him to chomp) he's just been this happy, chill little goodnatured guy.
posted by mochapickle at 8:52 AM on April 19, 2018

I have a male intact chocolate lab. He has never marked furniture and has never humped anything (yet. His day will come though). I also have a female spayed Maltese. She humps our female cat frequently and has marked in the house. Growing up we owned a female spayed black lab. She would chase my friends down and hump them. Also had a male dog growing up and I never saw him hump anything.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:57 AM on April 19, 2018

My female is the humper. My intact male doesn’t hump and doesn’t mark. My neutered male didn’t either. There really isn’t anything you need to know other than the fact that neutered males can be aggressive toward intact ones (not the other way around, as is commonly believed).
posted by HotToddy at 9:07 AM on April 19, 2018

All male dogs do not mark and dominance hump. Maybe they do this if they're not neutered and are around other male dogs, but dogs are also highly trainable and none of the males I've had or known do this. Really, if you don't like a particular male dog it's probably more down to that dog's personality and training than the fact that he's male.
posted by Polychrome at 9:54 AM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I used to puppysit a male dog pretty regularly that did not hump and did not mark, but for some strange reason, if there was a poinsettia plant around, he had to pee on it. He just couldn't not pee on it. So around Christmas, poinsettia plants were put high where he couldn't pee on them. Another male dog I watched regularly just had to pee on every tree, every lamp post, every fence we passed on our walks. Even when he had no pee left, he still tried at every single spot where other dogs peed. Sometimes it annoyed me - like can't we just keep walking - but you get used to it.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:58 AM on April 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've only had neutered male dogs and they're all individuals when it comes to humpiness. I've had total non-humpers, and mild-to-moderate humpers (have met a few humpaholics at dog parks but honestly females can be humpy too in my experience). Only other dogs, though, never people. I've never had my leg humped by any of my dogs.

None of them ever marked in the house, they were all solidly housetrained.

The reading and leaving of the pee-mail when on walks? Yeah, that's a thing. You get used to it.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:13 AM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is pretty much a non-issue; sexual dimorphism exists but dogs, like people, are individuals. Males are more likely to hump and mark than females, but there are plenty that don't (especially if neutered) and lots of females that do. Additionally, dogs are often a little more willing to get along with new opposite-sex canine roommates, so a male dog might be somewhat easier for Thea to adjust to.
posted by waffleriot at 10:52 AM on April 19, 2018

More anecdata for you: four male dogs in the past 20+ years, and none of them were furniture markers or humpers. (Well, the yellow Lab had a thing for humping leaf bags, but only leaf bags. Who knows what appeals to the doggy mind?). As others said, the only things that change about walks is way more pee stops.
posted by TwoStride at 10:55 AM on April 19, 2018

We had a female and male dog, and two male cats (all fixed) at the same time. The male dog was more mellow. The female dog was more apt to interact with the cats and liked to "mother" them. Other than that there was really no difference. The female actually had more accidents inside but neither marked (inside). Both of them peed on every vertical object outside. I have a friend with a female pit bull mix and another friend with a male pit bull mix. Again, the male is more mellow. That's not much of a sample size but that's my experience. I find male (fixed) cats to be calmer too; I don't have any theories on why.
posted by AFABulous at 11:02 AM on April 19, 2018

I've had two male dogs. Neither has been a humper. One marked inside once but I think he didn't realize he was inside. Both were large spaniels.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:06 AM on April 19, 2018

I've got two male dogs & I've had female dogs. My last female dog humped a stuffed toy every night after dinner & hated all other dogs. My male dogs hump each other whenever they're happy & hate all other dogs. My male dogs are much barkier than my previous female dogs & way more territorial. The main advantage I found of female dogs is warming your feet on their belly without having to worry about their junk getting in the way. A neutered male is a much different beast to an not neutered male and they do tend to act more like a female dog, as the dog you are looking at is coming from a rescue I'm assuming it would be neutered.

Generally the dogs personality counts for more than it's gender. I'd suggest fostering to adopt the dog if the rescue is up for it. This way you now you're not just picking this guy because he's the only one available & that you both get along & like each other. My MIL made a terrible match dog wise because she was like you & is the sort of person that wanted a new dog ASAP after her last one died. Fostering would also help you determine if there are any differences between male & female dogs you find bother you.
posted by wwax at 12:02 PM on April 19, 2018

FWIW, we've had 4 female dogs, no humpers, but we did have one that had to stop and mark every surface on our outside walks. Like everyone says above, depends on the dog.
posted by sarajane at 12:05 PM on April 19, 2018

I've had/fostered many male dogs (most already neutered or neutered while they were with us) and currently have one male and two females and honestly, girldogs have been overall the more difficult dogs. All the girls I can think back to, and certainly the current two, have far worse stubbornness/tempers, and one of them will do a front handstand to pee on anything with a really strong scent (rubber or vinyl like tires or garden hoses, tomato plants, new lawn furniture). Neither of them hump (and the boy does now and then when he's overexcited but hoooo the girls will not stand for it) but they both loom - that dominance move where they kind of stand shoulder-first over the thing being dominated - and that pisses other dogs off even worse. I can't really think of any of the dogs I've cared for being extremely enthusiastic humpers, really, and these were mastiffs and greyhounds, you couldn't miss it if they were doing it.

The male was the worst puppy I've ever dealt with in my life, he was like an unstoppable destruction machine for nearly a year until we gave him a puppy of his own, but has been such a good dog for the following 12 years that I would do it all over again, and I suspect it was not maleness (he was neutered the first second the vet would do it, he was very young) so much as just this dog's particular puppy spirit that made him so awful, plus the fact that we could not afford a dozen dog-walkers to wear his ass out every day. There is a lot to be said about tired dogs being good dogs.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:20 PM on April 19, 2018

If you have never had a male dog before, and you are a human female, they can form what might seem to be a stronger attachment than you may have had with female dogs.

Several experienced breeders and trainers of my acquaintance believe that M/F and F/M pairings for humans and dogs are better. Anecdotally, I think I agree. I (a man) had all male dogs until the most recent dog, Daisy. She had a choice between me and my wife, and very clearly attached to me. (The fact that I was the only one advocating for treating her epilepsy instead of putting her down probably also had a lot to do with it.)

But my relationship with her and the strength of her love for me is greater than with all but one other dog that I have ever had, and that was the dog of my young boyhood, which you can't ever really replicate.

It is not creepy in any way, but there is a definite element of um... not romance (?), but some sort of male/female dynamic to our relationship. Of course that isn't the right word, but the female dog definitely interacts with me in a different way than the numerous male dogs have ever done. My wife often jokes that Daisy thinks that she is my wife, and the dog does often shoot Katie a smug glare when she can snuggle in with me in the bed and push the human female competition away.

So, that is something to keep in mind. Of course, every dog is different, and this may not happen at all, but it is something to think about. A F/M dog pairing (if the dog attaches primarily to you) may be slightly different than what you have encountered up 'til now. Your mileage may vary, obviously.
posted by seasparrow at 1:27 PM on April 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

My male dog doesn't jump and only marks outside. He is awesome. At the end of the day the sex of your dog is probably not going to be the deciding factor as far as behavior. Sure it may affect it but training, socialing, and neutering will all go a long way. So if you like the dog i say go for it.
posted by ljs30 at 1:27 PM on April 19, 2018

I was concerned about this after I grew up with a female dog that my mom chose purposely because of some sort of bias I can't recall. I have had multiple female dogs and multiple male dogs now, and they've been nearly identical in temperament. In fact people always assume my dogs are the opposite sex from what they are just because one has a beard and one is kind of froofy looking (gender roles truly harm us all!). I have definitely seen a difference in intact male dogs--they tend to hump more and run away more often, both of which I find unacceptable. My dog Skeeter wasn't fixed when I found him as a stray and he was SO ANNOYING. I had him snipped and within a week or so he was muuuuuch less annoying.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 2:21 PM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've had intact and neutered male dogs and neither marked anything indoors (this is more of a male cat thing) and neither humped.
posted by quince at 1:42 AM on April 20, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for all of your valuable input. I ended up getting another female Rottweiler in the end, named, unsurprisingly (to me), Raina. We call her R2.
posted by msali at 8:28 PM on May 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

What a sweet face! Wishing you all the best with your new family member.
posted by lesser weasel at 9:21 PM on May 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

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