Do Some Dogs Really Prefer Men or Women?

November 21, 2012

By Tamara McRill

While visiting a rescued pup we had placed in a new loving home, his female owner commented that he was a “guy’s dog.” This had me wondering if some dogs really do prefer males or females. After all, it was a variation of comments we hear from pet owners all the time, like “my dog hates men,” “she’s a girl dog, so she bonds better with men,” and other similar phrases. But is there any science to back up our observations?

Man’s Best Friend?

There are few studies on the issue, but it turns out dogs in general may prefer men. Neurotic or anxious men, that is. A study conducted at the University of Vienna, “Relational factors affecting dog social attraction to human partners,” showed that dogs approached male owners more often than female ones.

More so if the male owner was neurotic, as determined by a personality test. But personality may play as big – if not bigger – role than gender, as the dogs also stayed close to neurotic female owners.

The study actually brought up more questions than answers, as more independent behavior from the dog could be an indication of a more secure attachment and not gender preference.

Does Nurture Trump All?

A large number of pet lovers on dog forums believe that dogs simply like best whichever person takes care of them. Therefore, they tend to like the gender that typically feeds them and doles out the CANIDAE dog treats. I’m sure that has a lot to do with it, but since I work from home and am the main caregiver and num num dispenser in my household, I can attest that this isn’t always true.

I have spent a hugely disproportionate amount of time with Cody – even when he was our only pet – and still simply don’t exist when Mike is in the room. Oh, he may make a big deal when I make my first appearance of the day, but after that it’s all about Dad.

Does It Come Down to Original Ownership?

No matter what science tells us, we would have to be blind not to notice that some dogs actually do prefer men or women. Common sense tells us that this could be learned behavior or preference for the familiar.

Dogs that aren’t around one gender or another might simply develop a preference for them. Likewise, they may see the opposite gender as an unfamiliar threat and exhibit aggressive behavior.

Going back to the rescued pup, his first two owners were male and his current owner is female. She insists that he likes men better because he listens to them. However, I have witnessed him interact with enough people to know he was merely responding to a deep voice. Which to him meant authority, but he doesn’t seem to like his newest female owner any less.

Dogs Pick People, Not Genders

That’s my totally unscientific conclusion. I’m basing it, of course, on personal experience. A dog’s preference seems to be based on as many varied factors as we base our preference for certain people.

Besides, sometimes pet and owner just know when they have found each other, regardless of gender. It’s the reason you choose a certain puppy out of a litter, why that stray dog always comes to visit only you and why you just have to adopt that one certain shelter dog out of hundreds you’ve seen on your Facebook feed.

It’s how I knew my Wuppy was mine, before he was. He followed me around when I first saw him as a pup, and laid on my feet when his adored owner and kids were present. After that he would unlock his cage and come to find us whenever we were working on a nearby rental.

When his owners – primarily male caregivers – couldn’t keep him any longer, he was brought to me. We’ve been attached ever since, but he also likes Mike.

Does your dog seem to prefer men over women or vice versa? Why do you think that is?

Photos by Sini Merikallio

Read more articles by Tamara McRill

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Share this:

Share Your Thoughts

  • WordPress
  • Facebook
  • Google Plus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Ian Newton says:

    My partner and I have a nine month old, female Shar Pei cross Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
    I admit that I wanted a dog, but the other half was insistent that we got a bitch.
    The dog was a present to her to mark our anniversary, so she had the final say on the matter.
    I haven’t owned a dog for 18 years, but grew up with a couple of Staffies. I like to think that I understand dogs more than the missus, and maybe this has something to do with our dog preferring me to her.
    My partner is the caregiver, but I exercise our dog, share her adventures with her, hunt rabbits and deer with her, though thankfully we never catch anything.
    Anyway the fact we bond outside the house I believe is the reason that our dog prefers me to her.

  2. Phil says:

    l exercise and feed my dog every day but he is always loyal to my female partner. Now 5 years old he was severely beaten by his firsrt owner in his first six months. Even now he is still very fearful and will lie on his back in the face of any threat. I suspect that he associates me with the man who beat him.

  3. S says:

    I don’t have a dog in my household, but I go to one that does on a weekly basis and have been for a year, there are four dogs there, but I’ll just talk about the one that isn’t indiffrent to gender, Cocoa who is a female dog surronded (most of the time) by female humans and two female dogs and one male dogs, despite me not taking care of her a single bit (aside from letting her releive herself in the yard) she seems to take a liking to me or any other males that come around, I’m told she was rescued from an abusive owner who also happend to be female, so to this reasoning abused dogs, may be more relunctent to interact the gender of human that abused them, or to humans in general, so I think a dogs preposition to humans will affect which gender if any they prefer.

  4. Bako says:

    My theory: dogs prefer the person who listens to them more. The dogs we have had over the years have all preferred me (male). As I tell my wife, I listen to them. I know what their needs are. Dogs try to communicate with us throughout the day. They are going to connect with the person who understands them more. Here’s a wild example I think illustrates this: If aliens take you back to their planet to keep you as a housepet, you’re going to bond with the alien who communicates more with you and understands your needs the most. That can be love, praise, affection, acknowledgement, knowing when to let you out to use the restroom, etc… You’re going to anchor yourself and security to that alien in an alien world. In our case, I grew up with dogs whereas my wife didn’t. I understand them more and pay attention to them more.

  5. Steph says:

    My boyfriend and I have a 2 yr old chocolate lab that we have had since he was a puppy. We live together so he is around both of all the time. It seems that my boyfriend is the only male that he likes (he will growl and get worked up when a new male person comes around -friends, family, etc) when other girls comes around he is calm, cool, and collected, and acts like nothing is wrong. I find it odd. I don’t know if this means that our dog feels more dominance pressure from men and feels “dominant” over females? We both punish him when needed, both feed him/guve treats, etc. he tends to sleep next to me every night, not my boyfriend and is always the one he brings toys to play. Maybe he just knows I’m a pushover lol

  6. Lena Olsen says:

    So I was looking for some answers when I bumped into this website. I have a 14 weeks old female mutt pup. I have had her since she was 8 weeks. She is the most loving puppy I have ever met. Then I got another puppy, a daschund/Shih tzu mix puppy. He was only 6 weeks when I got him. She would be a little jealous sometimes but mostly accepting. But he seem to be acting a little dominant most of the time. Overall the play good together because she will just be taking his dominant behavior when they play, but sometimes snap at him when he gets too wild. My problem in this situation is that it seems that my male puppy rejects me a little. I didn’t really notice until my boyfriend came over and I saw how sweet and affectionate he was to my boyfriend, in a way he never does with me. Then I start noticing little things from. He seems uninterested when I try to be affectionate with him and when he is sleepy and lays down for a nap, he doesn’t lean up against me, but rather lays down at least a feet from me or more. But with my boyfriend in near, he would just come up to him all the time and lays down on his back while asking for attention. I’m confused and worried about it, I would of course prefer that he would be as affectionate with me as he is with him. I’m wondering if there is something I’m doing wrong that makes him reject me the way he does.

  7. Nicholas says:

    I’ve done this study once before as well, my result’s were a bit different. Most dogs prefer the person who is the most relaxed, mentally stable, and emotionally stable. Via it be men or women.

    Dogs, like most humans, prefer the company of a relaxed, mentally stable, and most importantly, emotionally stable person. Men typically fit this description. I’ll leave room here for women to state things such as “men are just lazy”.

    Its this simple, if your dog gets in trouble because it’s confused on whatever complex sentence you threw at him or her, it’ll cause your dog to have frustration. When dogs get frustrated and confused, it can lead to one of three actions below:

    -Dogs will wet themselves on the spot.

    -They will sit near the person who isn’t confusing them for that given moment, or calmest person in your house, sometimes even sliding under their legs or stand behind the legs.

    -They can become a worry weasel, once you mess with a dogs mind, that dog will remember it and worry about it for a few days.
    Such as if you were to walk by and look at your dog, his or her ears and tail will drop and they brace themselves for major league confusion.

    Women are thinker’s, big time thinker’s, and also women have to have things done in a certain way, like a mild form of OCD, and in her mind its considered the correct way. This is perfectly okay, because women tend do naturally do things better than men.

    But women tend to forget that their thoughts are very complex compared to most creatures on earth. Yes ladies, your thoughts and they way you sometimes view things in life, could confuse a rocket scientist to the point that he’ll fart on himself.

    These are a few reasons why dogs would prefer the company of men.

    Also.. This is to those men that brag about being able to control dogs better.

    Yes, you may have a good bead on your dog, but you are not to far off from the same position, I promise you, your wife/ girlfriend, has you trained, and more than likely, very well trained. You couldn’t ever train a soul as well as she has trained you. She has always, and will always be the ultimate pack leader. Even your dog(s) have known that.

    Anyways, they love you all, and adore you all, try to keep commands simple, and pleasant.

    Dogs love everyone equally, but they are similar to YOU in a lot of ways, dogs do not like getting confused just like YOU, nor getting the feeling that someone is trying to confuse the hell out of them. Just like YOU. 🙂

    One last thing for those who are a couple and have at least one dog. If you are a person that is speaking louder than the regular frequency in which most of the uses, the dog will walk near or walk behind the quiet person. This DOES NOT mean that its you vs your partner and your dog(s). Dogs tend to huddle together when the pack leader is giving orders. Also you may look at it like this, while you are giving a lecture while angry, the dogs and group together with the quiet person, to give you a nice family portrait, a beautiful moment for you to calm down and smile at.

    Alright I’m going to go ahead and apologies for any mistakes I’ve made in this post.

    Oh and for those of you who watch Cesar Millan on television will not get far with your dog(s). He’s just a person trying to be dominate over anything he comes into contract with, dogs.. cats.. even a wooden table.

    If you try to always be dominate, then your just going to end up being an asshole. Would YOU enjoy being forced into training by an asshole?

    If you really want to know how to train your dog, try it yourself, give it your own style so that commands are easier to remember.
    Do remember the dog loves you, be patient, and watch your friendship with your dog grow.

    I have 5 dogs, all females, I find that female dogs are smarter and easier to train than males. 2 Dobermans, 2 Black Labs, and a Pitbull. They are great, its nice having silent friends to hang out with. Anyways take care everyone and have a great time with your family! – (family includes dogs) lol

  8. Lisa Spoor says:

    Dakoda is all about men. She was raised in an all female household and I do all the feeding, walking, playing and care giving. When my husband, son or son-in-law show up she goes nuts. She loves me but adores them. She acts like she hasn’t seen them in months every time she sees them, even if it’s only been a couple of hours.

  9. finnhoward says:

    That is really interesting. Finn definitely prefers me to the hubs, but she will take affection and attention from anyone who will give it!

  10. Marg says:

    That is some interesting information. We have never noticed one way or the other but I would think it depends on who feeds the dog and who is with the dog most of the time and I feel sure a dog can love both Mom and Dad
    We haven’t tried the felidae treats yet but will soon and do a small report.