Male vs. Female Labrador Retriever: Which Is Better?

Male and female Labradors in the woods

If you’re planning to get a Labrador puppy, it’s essential to know the difference between male and female Labrador Retrievers. Although both can be affectionate family pets, there are still some distinctions between them.

Male Labrador Retrievers have bigger personalities, demand more attention, and are more likely to play tricks on their owners. On the other hand, female Labrador Retrievers are generally easier to train, better at following commands, and gentler with children.

Male and female Labrador Retrievers share many positive characteristics. However, to make an informed decision before opening your home to a Lab, it is best to go through everything about each gender first.

This article will help you decide whether a male or female Lab is suitable for your household. So, let’s begin!

Physical Differences

Male and female Labradors sitting side by side

Male Labradors

When it comes to physical appearance, male and female Labs have subtle differences. Both male and female Labs look very much alike except for some variations in height and weight.

When Labradors are in the puppy stage, you can’t really tell the difference between the genders. But once Labradors reach sexual maturity and old age, their physical differences become more recognizable.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard for Labrador Retrievers, male Labradors weigh between 65 and 80 pounds and measure 22.5 to 24.5 inches tall at the shoulder.

They are slightly taller and heavier than female Labs. Moreover, male Labs tend to be more muscular and athletic-looking than their female partners, while females have smoother coats than males.

Of course, their ideal physical features can only stand out provided that they are given the proper diet.

Female Labradors

Female Labradors are typically smaller than their male counterparts. However, the difference in size between males and females is usually indistinguishable.

Female Labradors stand between 21.5 and 23.5 inches tall, and this dog’s weight is around 55 to 70 pounds, according to the AKC.

In addition, female Labradors are more slender than their male counterparts, but the differences in their body types are so subtle that it becomes unnoticeable to the untrained eye.

As a result of their lighter build, females tend to be more graceful than males in their movement. On the other hand, male Labs can be a bit clumsy when they carry themselves.

Lastly, female Labradors tend to be tidier than male dogs, requiring fewer baths. This makes grooming less of a chore while still keeping their coats looking shiny and gorgeous.

Temperamental Differences

Male Labradors

In general, a male and female Lab are both friendly, active, and outgoing. However, the male Lab may desire to please his owner more than the female. This is why males may be extra-loving and clingier towards their families.

They are affectionate with everyone in the household, especially if they know that they are not the highest-ranking animal in the pack. They do not play favorites among the members of their families.

Without early socialization, they may behave stubbornly in specific situations. However, if they are trained to behave appropriately in various circumstances, their stubbornness will be reduced as they grow up.

But don’t let that get you down! Male Labs are content with simply enjoying your company and will happily go along with whatever you have planned for the day.

They love being treated like babies and showing the same affection to their owners. They just seem to know how much they mean to you. Lastly, male Labs are a lot of fun and will keep you entertained.

Female Labradors

Females mature faster but also think the world revolves around them and expect to be pleased in return. They’re also more independent than their male counterparts, so they don’t need as much maintenance.

Treating them as if they should earn your love will also make them happy, and they’ll show you plenty of affection in return.

In addition, female Labrador Retrievers tend to be less playful than males but get along well with other dogs, including females. They’re also slightly less motivated by food except when they are pregnant.

They’ll try harder to get along with kids than males do but will still be gentle and cautious around them until they’ve been properly acquainted or socialized at a young age.

Lastly, most female Labradors are not likely to show aggressive behavior or bark at strangers. However, they can be very suspicious regarding unfamiliar faces. Nonetheless, they are excellent protectors and companions.

Behavior and Training

Male and female Labradors getting their morning exercise

Male Labradors

Male Labrador Retrievers can be a little more challenging to train than their female counterparts because they are easily distracted by other things going on around them.

However, don’t let this discourage you. Male Labs are often more eager for affection and praise than female dogs. So if you show them that they’ll gain positive attention while training, they will be motivated to learn.

Male Labrador Retrievers are more challenging to housebreak than females and may take longer to train if they are not neutered early.

However, premature neutering can bring negative effects on your male dog’s body and behavior. That’s why it’s recommended to follow your vet’s advice regarding the best age to neuter your pet.

Additionally, males tend to mark their territory by urinating on it—may it be a piece of furniture, a wall, or even a leg of a person. This can be a problem, especially if you have guests at home.

Neutering your dog can lessen this tendency, especially if it’s done before it is sexually active. Correcting this behavior as early as possible is essential to avoid problems in the future.

Female Labradors

Female Labradors are comparatively more composed in their behavior, reacting to people and surroundings more maturely than their male partners.

This can be attributed to the fact that they reach hormonal maturity faster than males.

In addition, female Labs are more laid back, calm, and composed. They are more serious and attentive and have a stronger parental instinct.

Having owned three female Labradors, a yellow, a black, and a chocolate one, I have observed that they are excellent and naturally protective mothers to their young. They do not get aggressive but use their large bulky bodies to shield the puppies from harm.

Once you have established a close relationship with your female Labradors, as I have, you will have no issues partnering with them to care for their puppies.

Regarding trainability, females are fast learners. They are intelligent and more focused. However, they can be moody and unpredictable, especially during their heat cycle.

However, after the heat cycle, female Labs will be ready to finish any given task once again. They can easily catch up with training and learning commands.

Watch this cute female Labrador pup undergo a temperament test:

Sapphire - FEMALE Lab Puppy Temperament Test

Health Differences

Male Labradors

Both male and female Labradors have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years and are susceptible to the same diseases like bloat and elbow and hip dysplasia. However, there may be male-specific issues for this dog breed.

With that said, male Labradors are prone to specific health problems if they have not been neutered and are overweight.

Here are some medical conditions you might want to be aware of if you are considering adding a male Labrador to your family:

  • Prostatic Cyst: Prostatic cyst is a disease of the endocrine system that affects the prostate glands of male Lab dogs. Typically, cysts develop on or around the prostate gland, causing enlargement of this gland and resulting in urination problems and bowel dysfunction.
  • Obesity: When it comes to Labrador Retrievers, males tend to gain weight faster than females. This can easily lead to obesity, a serious condition that can be prevented with proper diet and exercise.
  • Testicular Cancer: Testicular cancer or tumor refers to the growth of cells in the dog’s testicles that have lost their normal regulation. By far, the most commonly recommended treatment is the surgical removal of the testicles.

Another way to keep your male Labrador in good health and lessen its unwanted behavior is to neuter him and acquire one from a reputable breeder.

Like other breeds, neutered males will show less aggression towards females in heat or other male dogs compared to intact dogs. They are also less inclined to mark territory and develop the aforementioned reproductive diseases.

Female Labradors

Female Labradors, like their male counterparts, are prone to reproductive issues and other diseases, especially if they are unspayed.

Here are some health issues to watch out for when you own a female Labrador:

  • Pyometra: Pyometra is known as the infection of the womb. It occurs when bacterial infections are left untreated after your female dog has finished its heat season. This can be very dangerous if left untreated and could even lead to death in the long run.
  • Ovarian Tumor: Ovarian tumors are a type of cancer that develops when cells in the ovary grow out of control and form tumors. Ovarian tumors are often asymptomatic until they reach a large size, but it is possible for them to grow inside the ovary and not cause any symptoms at all.
  • Mammary Cancer: A mammary tumor is a cancerous growth that develops in the mammary glands of female Labs. Most commonly, tumors appear in intact females undergoing at least one heat cycle. Treatment options include surgery or chemotherapy.

Spaying your female Lab prevents many reproductive health issues that often lead to an earlier death.

Moreover, it is also highly recommended to invest in pet insurance regardless if you have a male or female dog. It may feel like an added cost, but it can actually save you bucks in the long run.

With Other Dogs and Pets

Male Labrador playing with a brown Poodle

Male Labradors

Male Labs are known for their outgoing, friendly personalities. They are sociable and get along with people and pets. Generally speaking, they have a low chance of becoming aggressive or having a high prey drive.

However, you should never forget that male Labradors tend to be more protective and territorial than females. Although they may not be aggressive, they can still assert dominance over other male pets.

Socialization and obedience training play a crucial role in this area. Exposing your Labrador puppy to other pets should be done at around eight weeks old.

Let your male Labrador pup interact with them for a few minutes first, then gradually increase the duration for best results.

Females Labradors

Female Labrador Retrievers are typically more friendly and sociable than their male counterparts. They love to play with other dogs and can also get along well with cats and other pets in the household.

Moreover, female Labradors can show aggression towards other female dogs, but this usually only occurs if the other dog is first threatening or aggressive towards the Labrador.

Whether a female Labrador is friendly or aggressive can also depend on how well-socialized she was at a young age and how much time she spent with other animals.

With Children

Male Labradors

Labradors are generally known for being extremely friendly, kind, and good-natured. That’s why it’s no surprise that male Labradors love to play with children.

They make great companions for kids because they are very patient and gentle with them. This is essential when dealing with kids who might not be used to dogs or know how to interact with them appropriately.

Male Labs tend to look at children as their playmates or siblings. Hence, they may get clumsy and overexcited, leading to accidents. Therefore, it is recommended not to leave them unmonitored.

It is also crucial that you teach kids how to handle dogs properly and socialize your male Lab while young to avoid rough play or play biting that can accidentally hurt your child.

Female Labradors

The female Labrador is known to be the more nurturing and careful of the two genders. This can be attributed to its motherly instinct, which makes this gender more gentle and caring around children.

In addition, since they are less energetic than males, they are much calmer during playtime. This also means that female Labs are less likely to knock over small children than males.

The female Labrador Retriever instinctively takes on the role of a mother, and its protective instinct ensures the safety of its pups and human family members.

Additionally, most female Labradors make excellent therapy dogs besides being wonderful family pets.

Through tactile stimulation and nonverbal communication techniques, female Labradors can help dog owners with children with disabilities like autism or attention deficit disorder.

Pros and Cons of Male and Female Labradors

Male and female Labradors on the driveway

Male Labradors

Male Labs are highly affectionate dog breeds. They love to be around people and make great companions for children and seniors. They’re always ready to cuddle up on the couch or go for a walk in the park.

In addition, male Labradors want nothing more than to please the people around them while protecting their homes or territories. A male Lab can also be a guard dog if appropriately trained.

Nonetheless, having this large dog is a lot of fun, but owning one also has some drawbacks. Male Labs are known for being highly energetic and can be challenging to train.

Moreover, they also tend to hump and mark territory, which can cause problems if you’re sharing your home with other pets. And because they love playing so much, they can easily get distracted from their training efforts.

Highly affectionateHarder to train
Eager to please peopleTend to hump and mark territory
PlayfulCan be aggressive to other dogs
Excellent family petsEasily distracted

Female Labradors

There are various benefits of having a female Labrador. They’re brilliant, can learn unique tricks, and are generally easier to train than males. They’re also friendly to other dogs and gentler with children.

Additionally, female Labradors mature earlier than males, which means they can be ready for training sooner than their male partners.

Female Labradors are beautiful dogs but can also be moody and unpredictable. They are more prone to mood changes than male Labradors due to their heat cycles. 

Female Labs are also less likely to compete in dog shows and tend only to have one favorite family member.

IntelligentMoody due to heat cycles
Friendly to other dogsLess predictable
Easy to trainLess tendency to be a show dog
Nurturing to childrenHas a favorite family member
Matures earlierSuspicious of strangers

Should You Get a Male or Female Labrador Retriever?

Looking at the pros and cons mentioned above, you may notice only a few differences between a male and a female Lab. Both genders also exhibit various similarities.

So as aspiring Lab owners, it all boils down to matching your lifestyle and preference when choosing between the two sexes.

If you’re someone who enjoys being active, loves spending time outdoors, and is fine with a dog that demands a lot of attention, then the male Lab might be a good fit.

Male Labradors can make great workout buddies. They are also cuddly and more expressive.

Meanwhile, the female Lab would be a great choice if you want a loyal companion that needs minimal attention and is perfectly fine being alone.

Females are also more in tune with their owners and are easier to train. They also make good family pets because of their protective nature and parental instincts towards children.

Frequently Asked Questions

Male and female Labradors chilling during the fall

Are Male or Female Labradors Calmer?

Female Labradors are generally calmer and less aggressive than male Labs. This is because female Labs are not fond of proving themselves and are mostly independent.

Furthermore, they also don’t need to assert dominance, unlike males, that tend to be more domineering with other male dogs or with an in-heat female dog.

Are Male or Female Labradors More Affectionate?

Male Labradors tend to be more affectionate than female Labradors. In fact, you will often observe them cuddling up next to you on the couch or snuggling up with you in bed at night more than their female counterparts.

Are Male or Female Labradors Easier To Train?

Female Labs tend to reach sexual maturity earlier than male Labs. As a result, they’re easier to train during the puppy stage. Moreover, they’re also faster to house-train and less likely to have potty-training setbacks.

Final Thoughts

The Labrador Retriever dog breed is particularly well-suited to families due to its friendly, affectionate, and loving nature. However, prospective pet owners often have trouble choosing between male and female Labradors.

As you have learned throughout this guide, there is no male vs. female battle here. Like other dog breeds, no gender is “better” than another. It all depends on what sexuality matches your personality and lifestyle.

As dog owners, keep in mind the benefits and drawbacks of this particular breed and ensure you can meet their needs before opening your home to one.

So, which Labrador is the perfect match for you – a male or female? Share them in the comments section below!

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