Are Female Dogs More Aggressive Than Males?

are female dogs more aggressive

Are female dogs more aggressive than male dogs, or is this just an unsubstantiated rumor?

Female dogs are not generally more aggressive than male dogs. However, there are times when a female dog will potentially show aggression that a male dog wouldn’t. For example in the hours or days just after she’s given birth. But this isn’t really relevant to most of us as pet owners. And some female dogs have been seen to have mild personality changes during or just before a season, but this is far from common and could be down to unconfirmed false pregnancy in many cases.

The female dog is not more predisposed to aggression, biting or growling than the male. The same factors that predict personality apply to both sexes. These include breed, neutering status, socialization, training and the natural tendency toward anxiety or resource guarding.


Are Female Dogs More Aggressive?

Female dogs are only more aggressive than males when there is a direct hormonal reason for them to be fearful or anxious. These include times of pregnancy, during heat periods and false pregnancy. Female dogs are not generally otherwise any more likely to guard, bark or bite than their male counterparts.

Instead of the dog’s sex, you should pay attention to overall breed traits and natural instincts, as well as your dog’s experiences and health. A healthy, well-socialized dog bred to be a lapdog is much less likely to show aggression than a poorly socialized guard dog breed which has a painful health condition. However, there are exceptions.

Maternity Aggression

Dog aggression has been categorized into several different types, based on what triggers it. Maternity aggression is specific to female dogs that have given birth or are pregnant. The behaviors triggered are prompted by a dog’s instincts to protect her puppy. But, this territorial, protective instinct can also extend to cover the place she gave birth and any areas where the puppies spend a lot of time.

Female dogs who have just given birth might show angry, protective traits if unknown people come to play with their puppies – particularly if you aren’t around. And, some dogs show this behavior towards their owners! If your dog has just had puppies, give her some space and move at her pace when it comes to meeting the pups! Most mom dogs will bring her puppies over to you to show them off when she’s feeling secure and safe.

are female dogs more aggressive

Other Types of Aggression

There are other forms of aggressive behavior in dogs, whether male or female. It isn’t just a behavior seen in pregnant dogs or dogs who have recently given birth! Here are some other reasons that dogs may show these unwanted emotions, regardless of their sex:

  • Lack of socialization (feeling unsafe and defensive)
  • A social anxiety disorder
  • A health problem or injury
  • Territorial nature
  • They’re scared

Some of these factors will come from elements that you can’t control – such as your dog’s natural instincts that have been bred into them over generations. However, other aspects could be from the way they were raised, or residual emotions and fears from traumas early in life.

Are Some Dogs More Aggressive Than Others?

Some dogs are quicker to respond with aggressive behavior than others. Guard dogs are trained to be alert and use aggression when they detect an intruder. When producing puppies, breeders will prioritize traits that make them good at this role, like a territorial nature. Your dog’s gender won’t play as much of a role as the breed of dog and their natural instincts.

Several studies into canine aggression have found that there’s a huge difference in these generally unwanted traits from breed to breed. Breeds deemed the most aggressive include dogs like the Dachshund, Chihuahua, the Chow Chow, and the English Springer Spaniel. Some breeds considered to be more friendly include the Golden Retriever, Brittany Spaniel, and Labrador Retriever.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

How to Raise a Friendly Dog

The way you raise a puppy has a huge impact on their temperament throughout life. Puppies experience a fear period from around 8 to 12 weeks old. During this time, owners must give them positive new experiences with other dogs, animals, people, places, and so on. Dogs who have been well socialized are much less likely to show fear-based aggression when they’re adults. Socialization can happen at over 12 weeks, but will be a much slower process.

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website