There’s a reason why Labrador Retrievers sit on the top spot of the American Kennel’s Club’s Top 10 Most Popular Dogs. They’re sweet, fun-loving, and gentle, which makes them the ideal family dog.
Not only that, but they also have the best temperament and are superbly intelligent. And, while you’re convinced on getting a Lab Retriever, there’s that underlying question that still lingers in the back of your mind: Should you get a male or a female Lab?
Ultimately, it all comes down to what kind of behavior you’re looking for, and if it matches yours. But, what are the differences between a male and female Labrador?
Female Labrador Retrievers are generally quicker to train and housebreak, stick close by your side, and gentle around children. On the other hand, male Labrador Retrievers are more playful and goofy, more demanding of attention, and more social with other pets and people.
Deciding on the breed of dog that you want to get is easy. But picking between sexes can be a little tricky, which is why you need to familiarize yourself with the common differences between a male and a female Labrador Retriever.
This article aims to help those who are torn whether they should pick a male or a female Labrador Retriever. While there is no doubt that they’re one of the best breeds of dogs, it’s important to get as much information about the genders’ differences.
Male Labrador Retrievers
Height: 22.5 – 24.5 inches (57 – 62 cm)
Weight: 65 – 80 lbs (30 – 36 kg)
Puppy Price: $800 – $1,200
Lifespan: 10 – 12 Years
Build: Bigger and bulkier with more muscle mass.
- Friendly, active, and outgoing.
- Slightly more desire to please his owner.
- Easily get distracted and harder to train.
- Tends to protect a territory or whole family.
- Content to merely enjoy your company.
- Tends to think “I love you.”
- Tends to give love.
- Likes being babied.
- More maintenance required.
- Constantly show his undying love.
- Tend to show more affection.
- Tend to go to his human to get affection and attention.
- Clumsy around kids.
- Less suspicious of strangers.
- Gets along well with female dogs.
- More playful and goofy throughout life.
- Slightly more food motivated.
Female Labrador Retrievers
Height: 21.5 – 23.5 inches (54 – 60 cm)
Weight: 55 – 70 lbs (25 – 32 kg)
Puppy Price: $800 – $1,200
Lifespan: 10 – 12 Years
Build: Slimmer and less bulky with less muscle mass.
- Friendly, active, and outgoing.
- Slightly less desire to please her owner.
- More focused and easier to train.
- Tends to protect an individual (her owner).
- Expect to be pleased in return.
- Tends to think “love me.”
- Tends to need love.
- More independent.
- Less maintenance required.
- Treat you as if you should earn her love.
- Tend to show less affection.
- Will be happy for her human to come to her.
- More cautious around kids.
- More suspicious of strangers.
- Gets along well with male dogs.
- Tends to be less playful all the time.
- Slightly less food motivated (except when pregnant).
Whether you’re choosing a male or a female Labrador Retriever, both share the same good-natured, intelligent, and enthusiastic temperament. But, similar to humans, they also share particular traits that are uniquely based on your Lab’s gender.
The male Labrador Retrievers tend to be more energetic and affectionate to their humans. They are slightly more dependent on their owners in comparison to their female counterparts. Male Labs are easier to please as they seem to be content just having family members around them.
Meanwhile, the female Lab is deemed more independent and is less attached to their human owners. This is not to say that female Labs are not affectionate. If they are smothered with love, they will definitely reciprocate.
Females, however, have a slight advantage when it comes to intelligence and trainability. Some studies show that female Labs mature earlier than male Labs and can be trained as early as seven months.
All dogs, regardless of their breed, are capable of showing affection and attention to their humans. No one in the world who can welcome you home at the end of the day, the way a dog would.
With that said, Labrador Retrievers are known to be extremely mushy when it comes to showing their love. But is there a difference in the “love scale” when it comes to the male and female Labs?
The Male Labrador is typically considered more affectionate than the females. However, the difference can be so subtle that owners might not even notice.
The males tend to cling to their owners for affection and will likely display their exuberance when rewarded with treats.
Again, it’s not saying that female Labrador Retrievers are less affectionate. They just show their love a little differently. Since females tend to be more independent, some people might mistake it as being aloof.
But in reality, they are more than happy to have their humans near them. It’s just that they don’t display their affection and attachment as openly as a male would.
Aggressiveness and Dominance
One of the many reasons why Labrador Retrievers are a favorite among other breeds of dogs is because of their gentle demeanor. Whether you have a male or a female, it’s very rare to chance upon an aggressive Lab. They’re such wholesome family and child-friendly pets.
They also never show any sign of dominance. In some cases, your Lab might accidentally push past you through the door or take up space on the couch.
This can be mistaken as a sign of dominance by first time Lab owners. However, these are associated with behavioral issues and have nothing to do with them being dominant.
In some very rare instances, your Lab might show some signs of aggression or dominance, but this has more to do with their upbringing and environment.
No matter how affectionate your male Lab can be, there’s little chance that he will show his aggression and dominance. The male Lab might show signs of aggressiveness when he is protective of their things, such as his toys, bed, food, and owners.
Meanwhile, if a male Lab is feeling dominant, he will likely hold his tail stiff, wagging back and forth. This means that he’s feeling confident and is ready for either fun or playful wrestling.
He will make a bold stance, his ears will be up, and his neck will appear bigger. Unlike some dogs, it’s unlikely that he’ll bare his teeth or growl.
Like their male counterparts, female Labs are not usually aggressive or dominant; however, they will only show their aggressiveness toward other female dogs.
They show their dominance in more intellectual and apparent manners like nudging, pushing their toys out of the way, or being stubborn when they are told “No.”
Trainability and Intelligence
Labrador Retrievers are highly intelligent, which makes them easier to train compared to other breeds of dogs. Because of this trait, they are often picked to become hunting, service, guide, and K-9 dogs.
If they are appropriately trained at a young age and consistently throughout their adult lives, you’ll have the most well-behaved and obedient furry companion with you.
Now that we know they’re very intelligent, what will be the difference in training a male versus a female Labrador?
Because of their big and jolly personality, the male Lab can be more challenging to train in comparison to female Labs. They are easily distracted, especially during mating season when a female dog is around.
They tend to hump, mark, and chase female dogs, resulting in a slower training pace. Male Labs also tend to lag and will more likely ignore command signals from their owners/trainers.
This is where the female Labs get the spotlight. Females mature faster during the puppy stage, which makes them learn tricks quicker.
They also tend to be ahead of the litter when it comes to house training, which is good news for anyone looking for a dog that’s easy to teach.
Also, they tend to be more sensitive and in tune with their trainer/owner’s voice, which makes it easier for them to follow commands.
But also bear in mind that regardless of what breed of dog you choose to own, they will not learn on their own. Pet parents need to have the patience and dedication to teach their dogs how to behave properly.
Male vs. Female Labradors: Which Is a Better Guard Dog?
Are Labrador Retrievers too friendly by nature to become guard dogs? The majority of Labs fail at being guard dogs because of their warm and happy personalities. They’ll most likely make friends with intruders instead of defending the house.
But for those who are wondering, can they be trained to be guard dogs? Generally speaking, any dog, if trained properly, could. However, because of their temperament, Labs will make better “watchdogs” than they would at being “guard dogs.” But is there a difference?
Guard dogs do more than just bark. Sometimes it comes naturally depending on the breed, but oftentimes, dogs have to be trained to become one.
Their purpose is to protect properties or their owners in case a threat presents itself. Guard dogs will be ready to attack and bite when necessary.
Meanwhile, watchdogs are simply dogs that watch. A good watchdog keeps an eye out for any intruders around. When they recognize danger, they will bark to alert their owners, but it’s unlikely that they’ll attack.
Sometimes, all you really need is a loud bark from a large dog to scare an intruder away. But in the end, will the male Lab be better at the job? Or will the female ace it?
Males have a natural tendency to protect their territory, which means they will make good watchdogs. However, they have lesser control over their aggression.
The challenge will be to train the male Lab to stop barking on command. Because they are less attentive to their owners than females, they’ll likely keep barking even after being told to stop.
The female Lab is protective by nature due to their maternal instinct. She will have no problem watching over those who are important to her.
The advantage of the female Lab when it comes to being watchdogs is their level of trainability.
As mentioned earlier, female Labs are easier to train than males. They are more manageable to control and would calm down easily when they are told.
Differences Between Intact and Neutered/Spayed Labradors
Some owners decide to neuter their dogs for a few good reasons, while others choose to keep them intact. The dilemma is, deciding whether to neuter your dog or not isn’t a simple question answerable by a “Yes” or a “No.”
Neutering means castration for the male and spaying for the female in order to block the production of sex hormones. This means your male or female dog will be infertile. But if you want your dog to have offspring, then leave them intact.
There are a few differences between an intact and a neutered dog. But when it comes to male and female Labs, will these differences matter?
The process of neutering among male dogs is called castration, which is the process of removing its testicles. It’s 100 percent effective and irreversible.
Some people believe that neutering their male Labs will fix behavioral issues like humping and marking. However, some studies show that neutering male Labs pose more problems than keeping them intact.
Regarding physical effects, the difference in intact and neutered male Labs is quite apparent. Your neutered Labrador will have no testicles.
Those who are neutered before they reach sexual maturity will look more feminine because of their smaller head. An intact male Lab will also be a little taller compared to ones that have been neutered.
When it comes to female Labrador Retrievers, owners often decide to spay them because of convenience and health reasons.
Spaying female dogs require major abdominal surgery wherein their reproductive organs are removed. It takes about two weeks for your dog to recover from this traditional procedure fully.
A less invasive option is the laparoscopic spay. During this procedure, a small incision is made to remove only the ovaries. Both are 100 percent effective, but the latter is much more preferred because it’s simple, and recovery time is fast.
Similar to males, female intact Labs are taller compared to those that have been spayed. If they’re neutered later in life, female dogs will develop a more scruffy and coarse coat.
Some owners spay their females, especially if they have male dogs around the house. Others do it for health reasons.
Studies have shown that spaying your female Lab decreases the risk of developing diseases in the future like mammary cancer and pyometra.
Before making a decision to choose the breed of your dog, it’s also vital to check their health backgrounds. In doing so, this will give you a better perspective on how to care for them and make sure they are in tip-top shape.
Just like other breeds, Labrador Retrievers have specific health risks they might be prone to. For instance, they could develop hip problems if left unfit and inactive because of their large build.
They are also susceptible to heart issues and obesity if they don’t get good nutrition and regular exercise.
While these are general health problems specific to the breed, some health issues are only particular to males and females.
The male Labrador Retriever is prone to perineal tumor and hernia, especially in old age. They also run a high risk of developing testicular cancer and prostate disease if they aren’t castrated. So, if you’re not planning to breed, it is best to consider castration.
Female Labradors are vulnerable to developing urinary tract infections because of how they urinate. They tend to crouch down lower, which puts them at risk of contracting bacteria found on the ground.
In case you see blood in your dog’s urine or notice that she has difficulty urinating, it is better to take her to the vet for a check-up and necessary medication.
It is advisable to walk your Lab for at least one hour every day to avoid muscle degeneration, obesity, and joint problems. Daily exercises also ensure that your Labs can release their pent up energy, so they don’t end up chewing things at home.
It takes years for humans to reach their adolescent years while it only takes a couple of months for dogs before they begin to flirt around other dogs.
Most dog breeds reach sexual maturity around 6 to 7 months, which is usually when owners decide to spay or neuter them.
When it comes to Labs, females are also ahead in this category as they reach hormonal maturity faster than the males.
There are some important things to consider before deciding to neuter your male Labrador. For instance, it is not advisable to neuter your male Lab before they’re 6 months old.
Most experts recommend waiting until they are two years of age since premature neutering can lead to certain physical and hormonal implications.
Male Labs tend to reach their fertility peak between their 12th and 15th month. They can also be sexually charged all year round. Some telltale signs that your male Lab is in heat is when they start marking properties and start humping furniture and toys.
Owners also need to be informed about the difference between vasectomies and castration. Vasectomies do not stop the male hormones that cause some undesirable behaviors. Therefore, it’s not the procedure performed on male Labs, but rather castration.
During the surgery, the dog will be under anesthesia. The veterinarian will then remove the dog’s testicles via a small incision on the scrotal sack.
After the procedure, the changes in your male Lab’s behavior will be gradual. You may notice that his attraction to females, his humping, and mounting will be lessened.
Similar to the male Labrador, spaying your female Lab should ideally wait until she reaches two years old. However, this can be a little tricky since they first start entering heat between 7 and 12 months.
This becomes harder when you have an unneutered male around the house. So, you have to keep a close watch if you don’t want any surprise pregnancy.
This heat cycle happens twice every year, and you’ll notice some obvious shift in their behavior and some changes in their bodies during this period. A female dog in heat will be moody and needy.
Her nipples will be swollen, and she might be sensitive to touch. It’s also going to be a messy situation around the house unless she’s isolated in one place or made to wear a pet diaper.
Some people believe that spaying their female dogs will eliminate negative behavioral issues. This isn’t particularly true, although spaying might help with their moodiness when they have their period.
When they reach the age of 7, female Labs can no longer conceive, which is why some people don’t bother spaying when they reach past this point.
Interactions With Cats and Other Dogs
Because of their gentle demeanor, it’s not hard for Labrador Retrievers to live with other animals. If there’s a breed of dog that will get along with almost any other type of animal, it’s them.
While this breed is friendly by nature, there are still some differences between how a male and a female Lab will interact when exposed to other animals.
The male Lab will likely be competitive when it comes to their food and territory. They’ll also not be happy with other male dogs around when it comes to mating season.
Their interaction with cats and other types of animals is a different story. Since they’re playful by nature, the male Lab will most likely get along with cats in the house. However, they might get too excited about playing and cause a ruckus or injure smaller animals.
As mentioned earlier, the female Lab can have a hard time getting along with other female dogs.
They are generally aggressive towards other female dogs due to their competitive nature, and because of this, they tend to take ownership of their food, their owners, and their territory against other females.
Experts advise getting female dogs as puppies if you intend to have them live together. This way, they can grow up and be familiar with each other.
While they are aggressive towards females, they can tolerate other animals like cats. This is due to their nurturing and protective instincts.
This is what most families want to know when they are getting ready to introduce a dog to their home. It’s essential to know that the kind of dog breed you want to buy gets along with children.
The good news is that Labrador Retrievers are great with children. They’re considered the friendliest breed of dogs, according to the American Kennel Club. Even though Labs fail at being guard dogs, they can be your child’s very best friend.
But the same question remains, who gets along with children better?
The male Lab is an ultimate attention seeker. They will love the attention given to them by children. However, parents still need to keep a close watch and be cautious when they start playing.
Similar to what was said earlier, smaller children may get hurt when male Labs get too excited playing.
The female Lab is the ultimate “dog momma” when it comes to being protective and caring for their puppies and children around them. This is the reason why female Labradors are preferred for families with small kids. They’ll see the children as her own and will love them as a mother would.
As a friendly reminder, while the Labrador Retriever is considered a “friend to all” type of dog, some aggressive tendencies stem from how their owners raise them.
Keep in mind that, like all other animals, they need to be properly introduced to new pets and children before they’re allowed to play alone.
Should You Get a Male or Female Labrador?
If you’re active and like going out, you might want to consider getting a male Labrador Retriever. However, if you’re someone who likes your personal space and independence, you might want to choose a female Labrador Retriever who prefers the same thing.
If you’re still undecided about whether to pick a male or female Lab, here are a couple of things for you to consider that will hopefully help make a final decision.
- Size and Features: Although the difference in their size isn’t that obvious, it can still make a little difference when choosing. Also, if you want your Lab to have stronger features, then you might want to get a male. But if you want your dog to have softer features, then you should choose the female.
- Existing Pets: If you’re planning to introduce a Lab to your pets at home, this could help you make up your mind. Labs do get along with most breeds but bear in mind that females tend to dislike female dogs if they did not grow up together. As a general word of advice, it’s better to pick a Lab that’s opposite in gender.
- Lifestyle: Do you leave the house a lot? Then, consider getting a female Lab since they are “less needy” and “more independent” compared to males. If you work at home or you’re a stay at home parent, then a male Lab who will constantly follow you around and seek your attention might be the perfect companion for you.
- Heat Cycle: Female dogs can be a lot of work when they’re in their mating season. Do you have the time and patience to clean up her mess that will probably last two or more weeks? The male Lab is a lot less work regarding this particular subject.
- Children: Do you have children? How old are they? If you do, experts advise getting a female Lab since they’re more “motherly” towards children and other small animals. They tend to be more patient and tolerable towards toddlers. Meanwhile, the male Lab will see children as playmates. In order to avoid accidents while playing, male Labs should be paired with children much older and bigger so that they can handle them better.
Some Fun Facts About the Labrador Retriever
Regardless of their gender, Labrador Retrievers are among the most popular breeds known to most people worldwide. There are also some fun facts behind Labs that you might not be familiar with until now.
- Fishing Dogs: Labrador Retrievers were originally meant to be the perfect water dogs. Fishermen used them to pull ropes, recover fishes, and bring nets. But what makes them a good fit for this role are their water-resistant double coats that give them insulation when they’re wet. Their webbed toes also make them speedy swimmers.
- Fast Runners: Not only are they fast in the water, but they’re also fast when running. Labs are fit and athletic dogs if exercised regularly. They’re also good sprinters and can hit about 12 miles per hour.
- Perfect Partners: A Lab Retriever is the most commonly picked choice for guide dogs. According to The Guide Dogs of America, 70 percent of their guides are Labrador Retrievers. It’s their strong desire to please and trainability that makes them the perfect dog for this job.
- Get All Three: If you want all colors from the Lab spectrum, the good news is that you can get all three from one litter. Regardless of their parents’ color, two genes determine their pigmentation, which is why it’s achievable to get a variation of colors.
- They Make Great Mayors: A black Labrador Retriever mix named Bosco was elected honorary mayor in Sunol, California, back in 1981 – beating two human candidates. During his campaign, he promoted the slogan, “A bone in every dish, a cat in every tree, and a fire hydrant on every corner.” He won the hearts of residents and served as an honorary mayor until he passed away in 1994.
Some Labrador Retriever Videos
My Final Thoughts
If you’re someone who’s active, loves going out for an adventure, and doesn’t mind a dog that needs constant affection and attention, then get the male Lab.
They’re friendly and welcoming pets that can get along with other animals in the house regardless of gender. Male Labrador Retrievers will also get along well with older kids who can run and play with them.
Meanwhile, if you want an independent but equally loving furry companion, then the female Lab would be a perfect choice.
They can be left alone if you’re busy, and they would be perfectly okay being on their own. In fact, they might even prefer it.
They’re easier to train, more in tune with their owners, and will follow according to your commands. They’re also best for families with little children since their maternal instincts will lead them to protect and be gentler.
In the end, it’s neck and neck between the male and female Labs. Regardless of their gender, the fact remains that Labrador Retrievers are the friendliest of dogs and having them in your home is a priceless experience you and your family ought to enjoy.
Your decision will eventually boil down to the little differences they possess and whether one fits better with your lifestyle.
They’re playful, friendly, and have a loving nature, which makes them the perfect companion for your home. And remember, when you give them love, they reciprocate that affection tenfold. So, whether you have chosen a male or a female Lab, show them all the love that they so rightfully deserve!
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.