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Italian Greyhound Care & Information

Male or Female?
"Picking the Right Pup 101"

Most people who contact me already have a set male/female preference when they start considering a new dog. Females seem to be the favorite much of the time, although there are many who have discovered the devotion of the wonderful male IG! Many people have an ingrained belief that female dogs make better pets. When I talk to many of the people looking for a 'sweet girl', they state that they want a female as they don't think females display alpha behaviors like 'marking' and/or 'humping'. They believe that they are more docile and attentive and do not participate in fighting over dominance. Hate to break it to you, but with the Italian Greyhound breed, those misconceptions couldn't really be further from the truth.

In a canine dog pack, the females are the ones who are alpha dogs, determine pecking order within the pack, and compete to maintain and/or alter that order. The females are, as a result, more independent, stubborn, and territorial than their male counterparts. The females are much more intent upon exercising their dominance by participating in alpha behaviors. Female dogs will 'hump' other dogs as a sign of dominance. Female dogs will 'mark' territory, competing with other females - cocking one hind leg like a male. Most fights and spats will usually break out between 2 females vying for the alpha position.

Males are commonly associated with less than desirable activities such as 'humping', 'marking' and lifting of legs. What many people do not realize is that humping and marking in a male dog is a learned habit. When a male pup hits "puberty" and the hormones start kicking in, he begins to learn these things. Male pups who are neutered early (before 6 months of age), most often never even learn to lift their leg to urinate, instead continuing to squat like females.

Compared to the females, males are usually more affectionate, exuberant, attentive, and more demanding of attention. They tend to be more steadfast, reliable, and less moody, and are very devoted and attached to their people. Males are more outgoing, more accepting of other pets, and take quicker to children. Most males are easily motivated by praise and treats, and are so eager to please you that training is easy. On the flip side, males love to play and can be more easily distracted during training as a result. A male Italian Greyhound is likely to be energetic, and playfully puppy-like,thru his life - no matter what his age.

The female will usually come to you for attention when she feels like it, and when she's had enough she will go do her own thing. The male, meanwhile will always be by your side, underfoot, and waiting for your attention. Females are usually less distracted during training, being more eager to get it over with and get back to the sunny spot on the couch. A female is less likely to wage a dominance battle with you, but they can be ever so very cunning and resourceful in getting their own way. Females are much more prone to mood swings. One day she may be sweet and affectionate-the next day reserved and withdrawn or even grumpy.

The difference in size, between sexes, is minimal if bred correctly. From my experience, each has its positives and negatives. While females do not so commonly mark territory, they can be quite cunning and temperamental. Male IGs, on the whole, tend to be more sweet, loyal, submissive, and docile than the females. If you are undecided, but are leaning toward a female only because you think you'll have an easier time housetraining, think again. Males are just as easy, often easier, to housetrain. And, as discussed above, if your male is neutered early you're not likely to have any marking behavior to worry about at all.

For those adding a second IG to their family, I usually recommend a male.
   Male/Male pairs will be quite content and happy being best buddies.
   Male/Female pairs will also get along fine with no problems. The female will usually end up being the alpha dog, and the male will kick back and not care as long as he gets his share of the loving and attention from you still!
   Female/Female pairs can be a handful and are not recommended for the average household. While males and males/females seem to be quite content happily living together, a pair of females will commonly have dominance spats. The females have a tenancy to constantly testing each other and are always watching for the opportunity to move up in the pack pecking order.


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