Labrador Retriever: Male or Female? Important Factors to Consider

Male or Female Labrador

Wondering whether to get a male or a female Labrador Retriever?

Getting a new pet can be something of a milestone in most situations.

Choosing between a male or a female pet is part of that process.

For this article, we will be talking about the differences between a male and a female Lab so you can determine which one is best for you.

For the most part, the differences are quite minor and are not likely to affect your experience with your Lab in a major way unless you are very specific about the differences.

Both male and female Labs have the quality of being loving and playful pets.

1) Physical differences

There is no major difference between a male and a female dog when it comes to physical appearance.

Although male Labs can grow bigger than female Labs when an adult, that’s not the only determinant for their size.

You could just as easily find a female Lab that is larger than a male Lab.

There are more important factors such as a Labrador’s parents, lineage, and many others.

It might not do you so well to make a decision about a male and female Lab just from their size alone.

Although the AKC does have different breed standards for male and female Labs, the differences are minuscule.

The discrepancy is only about an inch height or so. Not really something that you need to be overly concerned about. 

In other breeds, there may be noticeable differences between males and females.

However, for the Labrador, there are no very obvious sexually dimorphic traits aside from their reproductive organs. For the most part, a male and a female Lab will look quite the same.

But, if you do want a smaller, less stocky version of a Lab, then picking out a female Lab will increase your chances of the Lab being smaller. However, you should not rely on this as it is not a hard rule.

2) Emotional Differences

Some people say that there are differences between a male and a female Lab in terms of attachment and expressing their emotions or feelings.

While there is anecdotal advice that can give support to those claims, most of the time, it is an individual thing.

It could be our different treatment of a male or a female pet that makes them react the way they do.

Or, it could also be simply their individual temperament and the way that they act.

Every pet owner will have a different experience with their Lab and there’s really no set definition about what a male or female Lab should be like.

Another thing that some people claim to experience is that female labs are easier to train than male Labs.

While this could be true in some situations, the reality is that it most often has little to do with the Labrador being male or female.

3) Labrador Individual Personality

A Labrador’s trainability could come from their individual personality. It could come from excellent training and other factors.

However, there is also a study that concluded that female dogs were more into socializing with humans in cooperative contexts than male dogs, which preferred playing.

But, the study was not case-specific on Labradors, although it could be used as a starting point for analysis.

Despite the research results, the consensus of many trainers is varied. Some believe that females are easier to train, and some believe that it’s simply our perception that makes us humans think that way. 

Regardless, if you do want to pick out a Lab that is easy to train or playful. You are best off trying to find parents that have similar characteristics.

You can’t really use male and female as your only metric of determining Labrador temperament. 

Many Lab owners also think that female Labs mature faster than male Labs.

While this is another thing that could be true in some contexts, it should not be taken as true at all times.

Many also believe that this idea came from our human ideas of male and female and don’t necessarily apply to our pets.

4) Hormones

Undoubtedly, the largest difference between a male Lab and a female Lab is their hormones and sexual aspects.

While these might not matter so much if you decide to get your Lab spayed or neutered, it becomes somewhat of an issue when you don’t.

Male Labradors do not have designated times in a year when they are in heat, whereas female Labradors do.

When you neuter your Lab, you will no longer have to deal with these mating issues.

Usually, a male Lab will go around and sniff whenever a female Labrador is in heat or is in season.

Female Labs, on the other hand,  have specific times during the year when they can mate.

These specific seasons begin when the female Lab is already sexually mature. You may also need to prepare for times like these.

Additional precautions are necessary when dealing with a female Labrador in heat.

You may need to exercise more caution when you are going out on walks and take notice of any neighbourhood dogs that may be able to sneak into your property.

Which Labrador should you get?

We’ve already established the differences between male and female Labs. Now the biggest question is, which one should you get?

The answer is deceptively simple in a way that there really is no right answer to that.

It depends on what you need and what you are looking for in a Labrador. Either way, it will not matter as much as you think it will, especially if this is the only dog you have at home.

These items probably matter the most when picking out a male or a female Lab:

1) Other pets in the house

It is already well-established and accepted that dogs of the same sex do not seem to work together so well.

One might think that two female dogs will get along perfectly fine, but the opposite is what actually happens. 

Dogs of the same sex generally do not do so well together in the same home.

You might want to consider this first and foremost if you have other dogs in your house already. But if not, then it’s not an issue just yet.

2) The costs of neutering

This depends on whether you want your pet neutered or not.

If you do, however, note that spaying is generally much more costly than neutering a male dog.

This is due to the complexity of the process when compared to male neutering.

You might want to factor in the costs of that before making your final decision.

But in the grand scheme of owning a pet, the costs of neutering pales in comparison to the day to day upkeep of owning a Labrador.

Feeding, grooming, toys, and other needs can also cost money in the long run, but it’s still helpful to think of the major upfront costs before you get a dog.

3) Personal preference

The largest consideration for getting a male or female Lab is probably your personal preference in the matter.

Take note that many of the differences between male and female Labs are quite minor and are things you can overlook.

The most important aspect of making your decision is what you want. Some aspiring pet owners may not have a specific preference regarding the Lab being male or female, while some might.

It all depends on your personal take. 

Authored By

John Lab

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