Are Female Dogs More Submissive Than Male Dogs?

When it comes to understanding the behavior of our furry companions, dogs, there are numerous factors to consider. 

One topic that often arises in discussions about canine behavior is whether female dogs are more submissive than their male counterparts. 

While there are general behavioral tendencies observed in different sexes, it is essential to approach this question with an open mind, as individual temperament and upbringing can significantly influence a dog’s behavior. 

In this article, we will delve into the topic and explore the complexities surrounding the perceived submissive nature of female dogs.

Understanding Canine Behavior

To examine the notion of female dogs being more submissive, it is crucial to understand the broader context of canine behavior. Dogs, like their ancestors, wolves, are social animals that exhibit complex social structures. 

While wolves live in packs with hierarchical dynamics, domesticated dogs may display variations in their behavior due to factors such as genetics, early socialization, and individual personality traits.

Sexual Dimorphism and Behavioral Traits

Sexual dimorphism refers to the physical and behavioral differences between males and females of a species. 

In dogs, male dogs are often larger in size and tend to have a higher propensity for territorial marking and aggression, which is influenced by their biological drive to establish dominance. 

However, it is important to note that these behaviors can vary significantly among individual dogs and are not solely determined by their sex.

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Social Hierarchy and Dominance

In both wild and domestic dog communities, establishing a social hierarchy is essential for smooth group functioning. This hierarchy is primarily influenced by dominance, which involves a dog asserting control over others. 

In the past, dominance theory suggested that dogs strive to be the “alpha” of their human family, leading to the belief that dominance-based training methods were necessary. 

However, contemporary research has challenged this theory, emphasizing the importance of positive reinforcement and cooperation-based training techniques.

Submissive Behaviors in Female Dogs

While some studies have suggested that female dogs may exhibit more submissive behaviors than males, it is crucial to consider the underlying factors. 

Early socialization, individual temperament, and the dog’s environment play pivotal roles in shaping their behavior. 

Moreover, submissive behaviors, such as rolling over, tucking the tail, or crouching, can also be a response to fear or uncertainty, rather than solely a reflection of a submissive nature.

Factors Influencing Canine Behavior

Behavioral tendencies in dogs are shaped by a multitude of factors, including genetics, early socialization experiences, training methods, and the environment they are raised in. 

Early socialization, in particular, is crucial for developing confident and well-adjusted dogs. Exposure to various stimuli, experiences, and positive interactions with humans and other animals helps dogs develop the necessary social skills to navigate their world.

The Impact of Stereotyping

The perception that female dogs are inherently more submissive than males can lead to stereotyping and generalizations that may not accurately reflect an individual dog’s behavior. 

Each dog is unique, and their behavior should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. 

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It is essential to avoid assuming gender-based traits, as this can hinder our understanding of their true nature and inhibit the development of healthy relationships with our pets.

Addressing the Behavior Gap

To create a harmonious environment for our furry friends, it is crucial to focus on understanding their individual needs and providing appropriate training and socialization. 

Positive reinforcement training methods, where desirable behaviors are rewarded, have proven to be highly effective in fostering positive relationships between humans and dogs. 

Training should be consistent, patient, and focused on building trust and cooperation.


While the idea that female dogs are more submissive than males persists, it is essential to recognize that canine behavior is complex and influenced by various factors. 

While there may be general behavioral tendencies associated with each sex, individual temperament, genetics, and early socialization experiences play a significant role in shaping a dog’s behavior. 

Stereotyping dogs based on gender can lead to misconceptions and hinder our understanding of their true nature. 

By focusing on positive reinforcement, socialization, and individualized care, we can create a nurturing environment that supports the well-being of all dogs, regardless of their sex.