There are good reasons why German Shepherds have become one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. For instance, the breed is known for its keen intellect, trainability, eagerness to please and willingness to work. But...which is better, a boy or girl German Shepherd? In short, both sexes make ideal family pets or working dogs if they are trained properly and given plenty of exercise and affection. However, there are differences between the genders of these canines you should bear in mind when you adopt or buy a puppy.
Boy vs Girl - Size and Weight
Male sheps tend to be slightly larger and heavier than females, but either a boy or girl puppy will grow up to be quite a handful if you skimp on training or exercise. According to figures from the American Kennel Club, a male GSD usually weighs between 65 and 90 pounds. Also, males will reach a height of between 24 and 26 inches when they are fully grown. Females tend to stop growing when they are between 22 and 24 inches tall and weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. While this size difference is not huge, it does mean that you will be spending a little more on dog food for males.
With my dogs there's usually a huge difference in size - whilst my girls run between 68 to 78 pounds, the boys tend to be between 98 and 105 pounds.
That's why, for families with very young children, I'll only allow them to buy one of our female German Shepherds. Otherwise there's too much of a risk of injury - it's not that the dogs aren't extremely well behaved, it's just the sheer size (and weight!) of them which can be problematic.
Boy vs Girl - Temperament
Either a male or female German Shepherd will make a wonderful family pet (for those without very young children!) and dutiful guardian that will serve you and your family loyally for many years. However, there are some key differences between the genders. Males will love your entire family, but they will probably bond more closely with one person. Females tend to be less territorial and will lavish attention equally on all of the members of their human pack. They are also easier to train, which could be something to bear in mind if your puppy will be your first dog.
If you have young children in your family, adopting a girl puppy is usually recommended because they are more tolerant. Boy pups are usually more possessive of things like food bowls and chew toys than girls and can become unruly if their owners tolerate bad behavior. If you are a bit of a pushover or like to spoil your pets, you may be better off buying or adopting a female.
Meanwhile, it is important to remember that these personality traits are generalizations. The way your puppy behaves with you and your family will be determined more by the way you treat it and the life it led before you brought it into your home than its inherited traits.
The Call of the Wild
German Shepherds have been bred to be loyal and obedient guard dogs and pets, but, like all canines, they will occasionally show you that they are descended from animals that once roamed in the wild. With males, this kind of behavior is most noticeable when you are out for a walk. Instead of urinating all in one go, a male will take frequent short squirts to mark its territory. They will also try to hold at least some urine in reserve in case they find a tree, lamp post or fire hydrant that has been marked by another male dog. Females are less concerned about these things, so your walks should be less eventful.
Female shepherds answer the call of nature by going into heat. This normally happens twice a year and lasts for two or three weeks. They become more vocal and urinate more frequently when they are in heat, and their vaginal secretions could attract unneutered male dogs from far and wide.
Spaying or neutering your pooch will put an end to these issues, and it could also help them to live longer and healthier lives. However, you should bear in mind that you will not be able to breed a spayed or neutered dog, and you will also be unable to take part in AKC Conformation classes. On the other hand, you will be able to participate in AKC herding, obedience and rally classes. Another benefit of neutering is that it will prevent your male from trying to escape your yard when it detects a female dog in heat.
Nature vs. Nurture
While the differences between male and female sheps may influence you to choose a boy or girl puppy, that shouldn’t be your only concern. The kind of life your puppy led before you met them will be just as important. Even a female could be a problem pet if it lacks training and has been starved of attention. More importantly, it could take years before a dog that has been mistreated trusts humans again.
You can avoid these issues by adopting your boy or girl puppy from an experienced, reputable breeder.
German Shepherd Puppies in the Chicago Area
At Regis Regal, we have been breeding the highest quality German Shepherds since 1987, and the American Kennel Club has named us a Breeder of Merit. We offer a lifetime guarantee on temperament, health and training for all of our German Shepherd puppies, and we will make sure that your puppy is a perfect fit to be your family pet, working dog or special needs companion.