Adopting a Second Dog: Gender Considerations


Dogs are social creatures. They become deeply attached to their owners and families, and suffer greatly from loneliness, boredom or separation anxiety when left for long hours at a time. For this reason, many pet parents avoid exacerbating their pup’s melancholy by simply adopting a live-in companion for their pooch. However, there are plenty of factors to consider before jumping in and purchasing the first fur-ball who licks you on the face. Review the list below before you head to the animal shelter:

Does the gender of the pet matter?

The short answer –yes. Gender determines many of the dog’s natural instincts, behaviors and traits. Responsible pet ownership necessitates personality-pairing between pets (as best as one can), and thoughtful consideration to the kind of home environment one desires both for the family as well as for the pets.


What kind of pet do you have? For examples, a moderately active family with a lazy female Shih Tzu might want to adopt a sturdy athletic male Labrador who is great with kids, and can keep up on family hikes. Male dogs like to follow their owners around, while females tend to be a little more laid-back and aloof.
What does your pet need? Does he need an older, nurturing female dog that might bring some stability to the environment? Does she need a young pup that can lead her in games at the same energy level and intensity?  Would it bode well if your female standard Poodle were to be coupled with a demanding and defensive male Pomeranian?
What kind of breed and gender is best? In this time of sticky transition, take into consideration which kind of breed is more docile and easier to train. What breed will mix best with your other dog as well as your family? Though even the loveliest of female Golden Retrievers have struggled when a new dog is added to the mix, that breed is a much safer alternative to adopting a pugnacious male Pit Bull.


  • As a general rule of thumb, if you have one gender dog, usually it is the safest bet to choose a dog of a different gender. Dogs of the same sex have to determine the “pecking order” and fight for which one between them ought to be deemed the pack leader of the two. A pair of female dogs tends to vie for attention from their master, while two male dogs often face-off with intense power-matches to determine the more dominant alpha male in the house. (This can be particularly dangerous when there are small children around who can get hurt when the dogs are wrestling, biting and general displaying their strength.)
  • Another unfortunate side-effect of adopting a second male, is that one dog will usually overpower the other and live with bossy unchecked bravado, while the defeated dog will develop into a submissive and skittish creature. Both temperaments are unhealthy and create a negative environment.
  • One way to avoid the battle for supremacy, is to avoid getting same-gender dogs of a similar age. If you have an older dog, adopting a much younger dog will make the transition easier for your adult pup to get used to. It will make the gender issue less of a pressing matter, since the age gap will be the primary differentiating factor. As the second puppy grows, the older dog will have time to adjust to the addition without being threatened by it in any way.

In summary, is always ideal to adopt…

  1. A dog of the opposite sex
  2. A second dog that is much younger than the original pet.
  3. A female instead of a male. (When in doubt, females have a steadier demeanor, and they are less inclined to vie for the dominant position.)

Bear in mind when the introduction is finally made, the dogs will require patience while getting used to each other before they become amicable companions. Most dogs will generally engage in exploratory nipping, sniffing, growling and barking at the initial introduction; but this is just a natural part of the process!


  1. “Pugnacious Pit Bull”
    People are coming to this page to read advise.
    There is already such a stigmatism on these poor innocent dogs that are raised by idiot people, and you’re helping to seal their fate.
    I have been around a lot of dogs, of all breeds. I will tell you the pits bulls are some of the most snuggley, lovable dogs.

    • I’m so glad you said something. Once I read that bit about pit bulls, I skipped right to the comments section to see if anyone else had the same reaction i did! Some of the loveliest, sweetest dogs I know are pits. What a horrible and irresponsible message to send readers.

    • I agree with Sarah completely! I felt the same way after reading that. As a matter of fact that quote made me question the authors knowledge on animals overall. I have a pit who is the absolute sweetest dog ever!!

  2. Good advice depends a lot on the dog too though. we have 2 females one was older when we got the second she was a puppy she hated the puppy (she hated sharing attention she loves all animals just not one she had to share us with) and took a long time to get used to her now they’re both dominate (they don’t actually fight) but they respect and tolerate eachother. I’m glad I didn’t know this then because I love our family the way it is. Any dog can be pugnacious I don’t think she meant bad just that if your not experienced it’d be hard to control all that muscle even a rottie some would be harder to control if they had an active stubborn temperment and u didn’t have experience to train them well its the dog and training not breed mostly bulldogs are the sweetest lovable lapdogs ever though i have seen big active dogs not properly trained become very hard to handle sadly then the owner doesn’t want it because it’s a nuisance and it’s not his fault. Ok done with my book lol

  3. I have a 9lbs female Shih Tzu who is 15 months old and I want to get a female Maltese puppy to join our little family. (I had a female Maltese (15yrs old) and a male Lhasa Apso (12yrs old) that died at the same time last year and my Shih Tzu fell into my grieving lap. I love love love the Maltese. At the time of my 2 dogs death I knew I needed another puppy in my life but did not want to get another dog that looked like my Maltese. I have always loved the Shih Tzu so that is why I picked a Shih Tzu.) Now I’ve been debating getting another female puppy that is a Maltese. I’ve read so much about the pro and con about the subject. I just really don’t know what to do. I’ve had 2 dogs so I know about the cost and everything that comes with having 2 dogs. I have enough love to give another dog and she would be great companion for my Shih Tzu but I want female dogs cause I like putting bows in their hair & little dresses with a male I really can’t. Any advice would be great. thnx


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