Male vs. Female

& Spay/Neutering vs. Intact

Male or female is an age old question and everyone has their own beliefs and thougths on this debate, but most experienced Papillon breeders/exhibitors will agree with our thoughts on this subject.

In order to answer this question for you we would first like to disprove the most common false beliefs associated with the sexes.

Let's start by taking a true or false quiz regarding toy breed dogs and then we will explain our answers in detail below.
To read the true or false answer to each statement left click at the end of the sentence and drag your mouse to the right.

#1. Males mark territory and females don't. False
#2. Females are smaller.False
#3. Males are typically more loyal.True
#4. Males are more likely to be aggressive or fight with one another.False
#5. Females are sweeter or more loving.False
#6. Females are more moody.True
#7. Males are more willing to please. True
#8. Males have better coats.False.
#9. I already have a male dog so I should get a female as a companion. False
#10. Females are easier to house-break than males. False
#11. Spaying and neutering will often help your Papillon live a longer and healthier life.True
#12. My girl will be healthier if I let her have her first heat cycle or even a litter before I have her spaid.False
#13. A male will be more likely to stand his ground with a medium or larger dog risking a confrontation.True
#14. I've always had female dogs so I should get another female.True & False
#15. I want a dog who will love me, but will also do it's own thing from time to time without being under my feet 24/7 so I should get a male.False

Now allow us to explain our answers from above.

#1. It is true that males can be inclined to mark territory, but the age old belief that says females don't is very much incorrect. Both sexes, when left intact, are equally known for marking territory. However, when raised properly from the beginning and when spayed or neutered at the appropriate age both sexes can be very pleasant house companions and equally trustworthy. However, it should be noted one of the main reasons females are often thought of as being more trustworthy is they are just simply more sneaky than the males. As a friend of mine once put it, "the males get caught doing what ever they are not supposed to be doing because they don't seem to get the "sneaky" gene while the girls sneak off into another room or go behind the couch to get into trouble and grin while they are doing it."

#2. In many aspects of the animal kingdon females are smaller, but in toy breed dogs either sex can be on the small or large side of the standard for the breed. Papillons should ideally range between 8-11 inches at the shoulder, but both sexes can fall on either end of the scale. Paps commonly range between 4-15 lbs with 6-8 lbs being average.

#3. Males do tend to be more loyal because they have a greater desire to please you. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but in general the male Papillons tend to be more loyal. Of course, once a female bonds she will be very bonded to that person in specific.

#4. When either sex is left intact they can have spats during hormone surges, but when either sex is spayed/neutered they typically get along with others of their own sex equally well.

#5. While both sexes can be sweet and loving it is more commonly the male that falls into the more loving category. Someone once said a male lives for you while a female expects you to live for them. The males are typically more loving, while the females tend to have a mind of their own and are more independent.

#6. This is more true when your females are left intact, but moodiness is still more commonly true of female Paps in general.

#7. Male Papillons are typically more focused on you and wanting to please you while the females want to please themselves first.

#8. Although this is typically true it is still dependent on genetics and if your female is spaid or not. Both can have equally nice coats, but spaid females do typically have better coats than intact females because they are not going through the hormone surges every six months.

#9. Absolutely not. If you are living with a well-behaved house-broken male and you bring a young female into the house your male will often be inclined to mark territory for his new "girlfriend". This can be the case even if your male is neutered, but it is especially likely if your male is not neutered. Even if you have a neutered male and are planning to have the new female spayed when she is old enough this is still not a good idea. A male can detect a female coming into heat sometimes a couple of weekes before physcial signs present themselves. If she were to even get close to her first heat cycle before being spayed your male could loose his mind so to speak and begin marking your entire house. Once he has started marking it is very difficult to break the habit.

#10. Again, absolutely not. Both sexes, when left intact, can be difficult to house-break because the hormone surges will cause nature to take its course. However, when both sexes are altered they can be equally trainable and trustworthy. It is important to get a pup who is started off correctly from the beginning having some concept of proper potty locations and then continue that training from day one when the pup enters your home. Follow up by having your pup spayed or neutered before the hormones begin to develop, which cause nature to take its course. We begin by training our pups to a litter pan between 4-6 weeks of age. Then around 10-16 weeks of age we typically begin teaching them to use a doggy door. This teaches them from the beginning that there is a special place for potty duties. From here all you need to do is teach them to let you know they need out.

#11. It is a medical fact that having your pet spayed or neutered can help it to live a longer and healthier life. For males there will often be less risk of testicular and prostrate cancer as well as other non-cancerous protrate disorders, less risk of perianal fistulas and possibly even a lowered risk of diabetes. The lowered testosterone levels will also reduce agression, territory disputes and roaming. For females, spaying will reduce the risk of mammary tumors (the most common form of maligant cancer in female dogs), uterine, ovarian and cervical tumors, pyometra (which affects about 23% of intact female dogs) and perianal fistulas. Spaying also reduces moodiness and agression. The key is the timing. Some studies on large breed dogs have shown spaying or neutering too early can cause other types of health problems such as the growth plates not closing early enough resulting in the dog becoming larger than it would have as well as things like less bone density, noise phobias and urinary incontinence. Because toy breeds and large breeds grow at different rates the timing may be different for different breeds, but for toy breeds, we suggest you NOT spay/neuter before 6 months of age. However, in order to catch both males and females before they become hormonal and before females have their first heat cycles we typically spay/neuter between 6-8 months of age and closer to 8 months on the smaller pups.

#12. Absolutely not. Once a female dog has her first heat cycle, her body, and often her personality, changes. The hormones will often cause her to be temperamental and anti-social, her vulva and nipples will swell and never be quite as small as they were before, she will go through a horrible coat shed and her uterus will be bombarded with progesterone for up to 60 days leaving chance of infection. The ph value of her urine will become more acedic which leaves more porous coats open for staining and causes her urine to have a much stronger odor. Having a litter will leave her more open for mammary tumors (even later in life) and infection. Why put her through this? Another consideration is the possible loss of a treasured family companion. There are many things which can go wrong during pregnancy and delivery. Is it worth the risk? Do you have a vet who will meet you at 2:00 in the morning for an emergency c-section? Can you afford an emergecny c-section? Do you have time to hand nurse the litter around the clock if something were to happen to mom or she were to come down with milk fever, a calcium deficiancy etc....? These things are much more common than the average person realizes and especially in toy breeds.

#13. Yes, this is true. A male is less likely to back down from a medium to larger dog thus creating a challenge to the bigger dog that could end badly for a any toy dog like a Papillon due to sheer size difference. A female will more likely tell the bigger dog off and then walk away. The bigger dog might get it's nose nipped should it push the situation with a female, but then the female would still attempt to turn and walk away rather than stand and challenge. So, if you have a medium or larger dog in the home that you know can be slightly aggressive when challenged, protective of toys, food etc...or is just over-zealous in play, a male might make any of these situations worse where a female would likely help diffuse the situation by walking away. Now when considering the same situation with another toy dog the Papillon female might not stand down so it also depends on the individual personality of both dogs and the size of the other dog, but a female is more likely to walk away from a bigger dog where a male might be more likely to stand his ground and, therefore, challenge it.

#14. Yes, if a female has always worked best for you and that is what you are happy with then you should most certainly stick with a female, but in reading this page if anything stands out as being something you would prefer in your companion, performance or conformation dog and it points to a male then you might consider going either way.

#15. This is false because most males are the exact opposite of that statement. Males want to be under your feet and with you at all times and will follow you anywhere for the most part while females will come to you when they want love and might even lay in your lap for a while, but then they go and do their own thing. If you want a dog with you 24/7 then a male is for you, but if you are more independent and don't want to be turning around and tripping over your companion 24/7 then a female might be best for you. She will follow you, but only when it's her idea and, therefore, won't be as likely to be under your feet 24/7.

With all things considered we will almost always choose a male over a female as a companion, show dog or performance prospect so our answer to the original question would be MALE. Simply stated... Males are typically more loving and willing to please, which makes them easier to train and therefore, the better choice for a companion as well as a show or performance dog. However, your family needs to consider all points touched on and if anything stands out to you suggesting a female being better then that is the better choice for you.

PERFORMANCE: We feel choosing a male is especially important for beginners to performance events simply because the males will be easier for someone new to these venues to train because they only want to please you. Now females often have more drive in some aspects with regards to performance events making them very rewarding and competitive, but harnessing this drive is typcially best left to someone more experienced. However, if you have a good trainer that can help you or you are a reasonable trainer yourself who is willing to put in the time needed for proper training then you might find a female more suitable for you with regards to competitiveness in performance.

CONFORMATION: With regards to conformation I would always choose a male simply because you are not dealing with the moodiness and hormone-induced coat loss like with intact females and they are easier to train. However, an experienced conformation trainer would be capable of working with either sex.

COMPANIONSHIP: With regards to companions a male will almost always be more of a cuddly snuggly bunny who only wants to please you. Females typically have a mind of their own, are more independent and moody. However, if you have a similar personality, you might do just fine with a female so always consider your other pets, your family and what you want out of a companion when making this choice.
We personally find it very easy to get attached to the sweet loving males and often have a harder time parting with them than we do the females.

***Keep in mind, the thoughts and beliefs expressed on this page are directed at the Papillon breed in specific. While there are other breeds which we have similar thoughts about, this page is meant for Papillons. Our thoughts are also generalizations with regards to the sexes so we are not saying there are not exceptions to our thoughts. The personality of the owners/trainers will also be an important factor in choosing the right Papillon for you and your family. This page is meant to help show you the common differences in the sexes and help you determine which might be right for you and your lifestyle.

Here we would like to share a few thoughts and quotes from some of our puppy buyers.

Thoughts from our puppy buyers and friends...

Venue: Agility, Obedience & Conformation

My personal opinion is that the boys are easier to train and are more devoted to you than the bitches. I prefer boys for performance, you are the center of their universe and they so badly want to please you and they relish when you dote on them. Boys also don't have seasons for those who do both performance and conformation :) And if you have a strong relationship and they are trained right, they can and do work even with bitches in season around them for the intact ones.

Bitches on the other hand.... I find to be more about themselves. They are Divas with the exception of a few tomboys like my Sparkle. The Diva type are all about what can you do for them. Add intact bitches and that is a whole other can of worms with their hormones! I have to be honest and say that I do have an intact bitch who is not like that, but she is not the norm. She thinks she is a tomboy and likes to get down and dirty and loves to work. She has more intensity than some of the boys, honestly she is a bit nuts! But that is what makes her an extremely driven dog. The girls I find to be a little easier to pass off to other people like for conformation ring handling, they are a little more outgoing in that respect. My boys on the other hand might work for someone else, but they absolutely won't do it with the same type of intensity and will be a bit worried about it. It isn't that they aren't secure, it is that the game is played with ME, and with anyone else it just isn't the same. The Girls don't quite think that way, Sparkle runs helter skelter for anyone cause she just LOVES it , and it isn't about me, I am a pawn out there for her. Star sometimes she really likes it, sometimes she'd rather sunbathe (DIVA TYPE) but the work ethic is there because it is engrained into her brain! My male Pap, Chase, and I were on the AKC/USA World Team in 2005 and 2007. He has his MACH3 as well as many other titles.

Andrea, StarStruck Papillons
Breeder/trainer of conformation, Obedience & Agility Master champions

Venue: Performance (agility)

Males are much more driven to please you based on my experience. They're my cuddle monsters. They give love and affection like no female I've ever encountered. Boys are all about you and making you happy on and off the agility course. They'll bend over backwards to get your approval at the end of the day. I wouldn't trade a moment of the things we've done, or are going to do together in the future.

Females are driven to get a job done - it's not about making you happy - to them it seems to me - it's about getting the job done to get what she wants - period.

In short I have found my males are much more prone to being 'momma's boy' and my girls are my partners in crime.

Lee Ann
Professional Agility instructor

Venue: Conformation (showing)

Since I show in conformation, my dogs and bitches are intact.
My males seem to want to cuddle more than my females. My girls come over for lovin' then move away in a few minutes.

My male Pap, "Cookie", is without a doubt the smartest dog I own. He works very hard to understand us and is often gazing at us with head cocked when we are talking. I think he is listening for words he understands. Lol. He responds well to training, and works for treats.

One of my Pap bitches is high strung, energetic, and "demands" much attention. The other bitch is much more independent.

Some people are concerned about males because of leg - lifting potential, but I know that girls are just as bad about marking, and the only time one of mine went "tee tee" in my husband's chair, it was a girl!

Dog Show exhibitor/handler

Venue: Performance and Conformation

In my experience, I have had and shown intact male and female shar pei, and spayed and neutered papillon. With the intact shar pei I have, and have been around, the males are always more relaxed on a general basis. They have their moments with agression, getting worked up over females, but for the most part, they are more relaxed. The female shar pei are "Bitchy", they are higher strung, yet pretty attentive when you need their attention.

With my female papillon, Jolie is extremely wired and does not care for other dogs very much, even though she is spayed. She is very possesive over objects and spaces, but is extreme in her focus and trainability. I dont know if that is her sex, or just the personality type she is.

The two male Papillons are much more laid back. I think If I was going for a driven performance dog, it might have to be a female, but if I wanted an obedience/companion dog, a male would be a better fit for me personally.

Dog Show exhibitor/handler & performance trainer

Venue: Companionship

Over the last few decades we have owned 5 Sheltie girls and 1 male Pap, all spayed/neutered. 2 Shelties were gently bred and raised by us. If I was to sum up all five of the girls I would say that each was loving, kind and attentive...up to a point. Then they went off and did their own thing.

Since we had no other experiences except with girls I thought they were best, until we started working with Brandi (Braylor's Papillons) who mentioned the possible snuggle factor of boy Paps. And in our experience with Winston, Brandi has been so right. (Thanks again Brandi!) Winston is a snuggler and has more than enough time for being with us both. Winston is the smartest dog we have ever owned. Now I think we are hooked on little male pap dogs....Duchess (one of my female Shelties) would be really disgusted if she heard me say this.

Dog lovers for companionship

Venue: Companionship

I've had (and have) wonderful animals in my life. Currently I have a female spaid Boston Terrier and a male neutered Papillon.

As far as your male/female question, Wyatt is the most cuddly, affectionate furry companion I have ever had.

Dog lover for companionship

Venue: Agility

Coming from someone who has 4 boy Papillons, they are by far my favorite. I find, when training, they are sweeter and more willing to please and less "moody" than the females. I know there are always exceptions to this but I am just talking about my experiences and observations.

Performance trainer


We do require all our pups who are being placed as companions be spayed or neutered by a certain age, but we do not advocate early-age altering such as 3-4 months of age. We do, however, suggest and require they be neutered by 8 months of age, but not before 6 months of age.
With relation to them as companions the reasons are as follows.

#1. Longer healthier life with less risk of cancer and infections.
#2. Easier to house-break. No hormone surges mean no marking urges.
#3. Less mounting/humping you or their toys and less roaming.
#4. Not as moody.
#5. Not as likely to have disagreements with one another and not as territorial.
#6. Without the hormones to distract them they will be more focused on you, making them easier to train for companionship, performance and obedience competitions.
#7. Less unwanted pups in the world.

You will also hear disadvantages to spaying/neutering such as:

#1. Increased risk of obesity
#2. Increased risk of patellar (knee) luxation
#3. Increased risk of fearfulness, lack of confidence
#4. Increased risk of vaccine reaction
#5. Increased risk of peri-vulvar dermatitis, vaginitis, cystitis and recurrent urinary tract infections in early-age spayed bitches.
#6. Growth rate changes due to a slowing of the growth plates closing.

DO NOTE, the disadvantages mentioned above (with the exception of obesity, which can be controlled with proper feeding) are with regards to early-age spaying/neutering meaning between 3-4 months of age on average. We do not advocate spaying/neutering until at least 6 months and in most cases 8 months of age. Also note, maturity and growth rates are different for different breeds and especially between large and toy breeds so the exact right age to spay/neuter can also be dependent on the size of the breed you are dealing with. For instance, toy breed dogs grow and mature quicker than large breed dogs so our standard 8 month spay/neuter guideline might be different for larger breeds and epsecially giant breeds. If you have concerns about the growth rate changes due to neutering your pets (especially large breeds) ask your vet about a vasectomy procedure rather than the common removing of the testes procedure.

*The information contained on this page comes from our own personal opinions and views, which have been developed through many years of experience with dogs and the Papillon breed in specific.

For more information visit the Papillon Club Of America website.

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