Are Female Dogs Less Aggressive? What to Expect

When it comes to discussing the behavior of dogs, aggression is a topic that often arises. 

Many people have a perception that male dogs are more aggressive than their female counterparts. However, is this notion based on facts, or is it merely a stereotype? 

Are female dogs truly less aggressive? In this article, we will explore the subject of canine aggression and delve into whether there are gender differences when it comes to aggression in dogs.

Understanding Canine Aggression

Before we examine the potential differences in aggression between male and female dogs, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of canine aggression itself. 

Aggression in dogs can manifest in various forms, including growling, snarling, biting, or even attacking. 

It can be directed towards humans, other animals, or even inanimate objects. Aggression can stem from a variety of factors, such as fear, territoriality, dominance, or possessiveness.

Factors Influencing Canine Aggression

When considering aggression in dogs, it’s crucial to recognize that various factors influence a dog’s behavior. 

These factors include genetics, environment, training, socialization, and individual temperament. 

Aggression is not solely determined by an animal’s gender but is instead influenced by a complex interplay of these factors.

Research on Gender and Aggression in Dogs

Numerous studies have been conducted to investigate the potential differences in aggression between male and female dogs. 

While it is challenging to draw definitive conclusions from these studies due to variations in sample size, breed, and methodology, they provide some insights into the topic.

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A study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science examined the behavior of 6,000 dogs from different breeds. 

The results indicated that male dogs were more likely to display aggression towards both humans and other dogs compared to females. 

However, it’s important to note that the study did not account for the influence of neutering or spaying, which can impact aggression levels.

Another study, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, investigated the aggressive behavior of 212 dogs in relation to their sex, age, and reproductive status. 

The researchers found that intact males displayed higher levels of aggression compared to intact females. 

However, they also noted that once males were neutered, the difference in aggression levels between genders diminished. In addition to these studies, anecdotal evidence from dog owners and trainers often suggests that female dogs tend to be less aggressive. 

Many people report that female dogs are generally more docile, less prone to territorial behavior, and less likely to engage in fights with other dogs.

Exploring Potential Explanations

Why might female dogs exhibit less aggression than their male counterparts? One possible explanation is hormonal differences. 

Male dogs have higher levels of testosterone, a hormone associated with dominance and territoriality, which may contribute to their increased aggression.

Another factor to consider is maternal instinct. Female dogs are often more nurturing and protective due to their inherent role in reproduction and raising offspring. This maternal instinct may contribute to a calmer and less aggressive demeanor.

Furthermore, the socialization process can play a significant role in a dog’s behavior. Proper socialization during the early stages of a dog’s life can help reduce the likelihood of aggression towards other animals or humans. 

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It is possible that female dogs, often considered more sociable and less dominant, benefit from a higher degree of socialization, leading to reduced aggression.

The Impact of Spaying and Neutering

An important consideration when discussing aggression in female dogs is the impact of spaying (removal of the ovaries and uterus) and neutering (removal of the testicles). 

Spaying and neutering can have a profound effect on a dog’s behavior, including aggression levels.

Research suggests that spaying female dogs can reduce aggressive behaviors associated with hormonal fluctuations during heat cycles. Neutering male dogs can also reduce aggression by decreasing testosterone levels. 

However, it’s worth noting that spaying or neutering does not guarantee complete elimination of aggressive behavior, as other factors still come into play.

The Individuality of Dogs

While some studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that female dogs are less aggressive, it is essential to remember that every dog is an individual. 

Factors such as genetics, environment, training, and socialization play crucial roles in shaping a dog’s behavior, and generalizations based solely on gender are not always accurate.

It’s also worth mentioning that aggression is a complex behavior that cannot be solely attributed to a dog’s gender. Aggression in dogs requires a nuanced approach, considering various factors and seeking professional guidance when necessary.


In conclusion, the belief that female dogs are inherently less aggressive than males is not entirely unfounded. Studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that, on average, female dogs may exhibit less aggression than males. 

However, it’s crucial to remember that aggression is a complex behavior influenced by numerous factors, and gender alone cannot determine a dog’s aggressive tendencies. 

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Each dog is an individual, and their behavior should be evaluated holistically, taking into account genetics, environment, training, and socialization.