Male or Female?

When it comes to gender, many people want female dogs. They have a reputation for being easier to handle and “cleaner,” as far as not marking in the house. There can be some surprising differences between the sexes, however, so don't automatically rule out one over the other.

In personality, male Labs tend to be sweeter, believe it or not. They're often mama's boys that will stick close to the woman of the house. Don't be surprised if your male puppy grows up to be a big sweetheart that wants to sit on your lap and give you a big slobbery kiss every morning before he goes about his business of supervising the household.

On the downside, males will lift a leg and urinate on just about anything inside or outside the home. It takes training and patience to redirect or control this habit. Neutering helps too and has the added benefit of protecting your Lab from testicular cancer, prostate disease, and perianal adenomas, or growths around the anus that are testosterone-dependent.

Without careful supervision, a female will escape in search of a male to meet her sexual needs. Spaying eliminates these concerns, and spaying a female before her first season greatly reduces her chances of developing breast cancer.

Females can be independent. When it comes to relating to other dogs in the household, they are often the leaders of the group. They tend to be more protective and may well be the first to bark at anything unusual. Calmer and quieter than males, a female Lab is a good choice if you have younger children that she can nurture.

Be aware that unless a female is spayed, she will go into season — sometimes referred to as “heat” — twice a year, for about three weeks each time. During this hormone-driven period, you can expect her to spend a lot of time licking her swollen genitals and enthusiastically humping anyone or anything she can find. You'll need to protect your carpet and furniture from her bloody discharge, which can range from light to heavy.

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