Everything You Need To Know About Female Dogs

Some things to consider when it comes to your girl dog's health and behavior.

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female dog

Adopting a dog isn’t an easy decision, and it comes with a lot of things to ponder. Shelter pup, or a pure-bred dog from a reputable breeder? Tiny canine that can fit in a purse, or a hefty doggo the size of a small horse?

And what about male dogs versus female dogs—is there really a difference in behavior and temperament?

The differences between female and male dogs

Besides the obvious, um, anatomical considerations, there are indeed some distinctions between the sexes. 

Keep the following in mind:

  • Male dogs tend to be bigger and heavier than female dogs by breed, so if space is an issue, you might prefer a female dog. 
  • Female dogs mature earlier than male dogs, which means that they might be easier to train when they are younger
  • Intact males (dogs that haven’t been neutered) often display problematic behavior: spraying, mounting other dogs, and roaming far from home when they get the chance. Female dogs are less likely to do this. 
  • It’s possible that males do bite more than female dogs. One study found that male dogs are 6 times more likely to bite than female dogs. But dog training, the dog’s personality, and your home environment are important, too.

It’s worth remembering that when you neuter or spay your dog, it changes their hormonal balance, and that also has an effect on their behavior.

A neutered male is usually less aggressive than intact males, and they also spray and mount less. But it’s important to note that neutered females are more aggressive and growl more than intact females.

I’m looking for a new pet. Should I adopt a male or female dog?

Here’s the truth: people usually prefer a male or female dog because of their own preferences and associations, not because there are serious behavioral differences between dog sexes. 

When you’re choosing a new pet, it’s more important to think about the breed and personality than whether the dog is male or female. 

Do female dogs go into heat or have periods? 

Yes, an intact female dog that hasn’t been spayed will have a period.

Female dogs experience what’s called the heat cycle, which is their reproductive cycle. When they are able to bear a litter, it’s known as being ‘in heat,’ or in estrus. That’s when they’ll bleed (some dogs have a vaginal discharge that’s clear, so you might not notice it much).

The good news is that unlike humans, female dogs don’t bleed every month. 

Your dog’s heat cycle depends on how big she is; small dogs can go into heat up to 4 times a year, while big dogs might only have a heat cycle once every 18 months.

What should you expect when your dog is in heat?

When your dog is in heat, she’ll produce a secretion that attracts intact male dogs, so you’ll need to keep her away from them. Dogs have their first heat at the end of puberty, which is usually around 6 months of age, but it can be earlier for small dogs and later for large dogs.

Just like human females, dogs can behave differently when they are in heat.

You might see that your dog is more jittery and alert, and might need some more love and affection until estrus ends. Dogs in estrus also urinate more often, and their urine might smell more strongly.

Of course, many of these behaviors and outcomes can be avoided by spaying your pup. 

Should I get my dog spayed?

In order to prevent overpopulation, spaying your female dog is the responsible thing to do. 

Spaying refers to the surgical procedures that permanently sterilize your female pet, and will prevent your dog from getting pregnant. You don’t want one ill-fated midnight rendezvous in your front yard to lead to an unexpected litter of puppies, now do you?

According to Lemonade’s veterinary expert, Dr. Stephanie Liff, the cost of a routine dog spaying can range anywhere between $250 to $2,000. Having your dog spayed can feel like an overwhelming expense, but Lemonade Pet’s customized packages for puppies will help take the bite out of hefty vet bills. 

Medical issues that only affect female dogs

There are some health problems that only affect female dogs. One of the most common (and potentially life-threatening) is a reproductive disorder, pyometra, which mainly appears in dogs over 5 years of age.

Other female-specific complications include vaginitis, which is common in female puppies; and metritis, an inflammation of the uterus after pregnancy. 

Most of these conditions don’t affect female dogs who have been spayed, which is one of the reasons why the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends spaying dogs once they reach puberty.

Spaying your dog can also help protect her from mammary cancer and uterine infections. 

Do female dogs get along better with other female dogs?

If you’re thinking about getting your fur baby a companion, you’d probably like to know whether they’d get on better with another girl, or with a dog of the opposite sex. 

Once again, this depends on your dog’s personality and which breed you choose. But in general, dogs get on better with dogs of the opposite sex. If you already have a female dog, you might want to get a male dog the next time around.

Before we go…

No matter the sex of your new dog, you’ll want to set them up for a happy, healthy life. That’s where Lemonade Pet insurance can help. 

In addition to our base policy, which covers your dog for accidents and illnesses, Lemonade pet insurance also offers a Puppy Preventative care package, designed especially for young pups. 

This coverage can help pay for things like: spaying and neutering, microchipping, and their first rounds of vaccinations

Although they can’t express it in words, your puppy will be grateful for setting her up for a long and healthy life. Your wallet will thank you too.


Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.