Gender Differences

Does gender make a difference? That is a question that is commonly asked when someone is looking for a new puppy. In some breeds, there is a significant gender difference. In others, not so much. On the other hand, there are many who believe that ALL female dogs are better or ALL male dogs are better and breed does not matter. Now, there is so science behind this information and there are other considerations than gender alone.

So, when it comes to Golden Retrievers, is one gender “better” or “easier” than the other? The overall answer is no.  Golden Retrievers, as a breed, are playful, affectionate, understanding, owner-pleasing, and an all-around wonderful breed.  Nonetheless, there are some minor differences between the boys and the girls.


It is important to remember that not all puppies/dogs “read” the proverbial “book.”  The information below is a generalization based on observance of the breed as a whole. Individual personality can influence how a dog behaves.  In addition, another factor that must be considered is when and/or whether a dog is spayed/neutered as hormone changes can be a factor.

Size Differences

First of all, in this case, you need to compare apples to apples. What I mean is that since the golden breed ranges from the slightly shorter and stockier European line to the taller and thinner field line, you must compare two dogs with generally the same lineage. While male and female Golden Retrievers look primarily the same, you can see a subtle difference in their build in terms of height and weight.

In general, female goldens will be slightly smaller than their male counterpart. This height difference can range from 0.5 inches to 3 inches. Additionally, the girls usually weigh less. This weight difference can be as little as 2 pounds and as much as 35 pounds. 

Structural Differences

Male Golden Retrievers often have broader heads and are more muscular. On the other hand, the muzzles and heads of female Golden Retrievers are narrower and they have a slighter frame. This is where the structural differences between the male and female Golden Retrievers end.

Coat Differences

Compared to their female counterparts, male Golden Retrievers have a slightly thicker coat. This will also depend on their lineage as the show coat retrievers will be all around thicker than that of the field coat.  Still, the male topcoat is thicker and longer than that of the female in all “types.” Additionally, male Goldens tend to have a thicker “mane.” (Think adolescent lion mane.)  Although the females will still have a thicker coat on their chest, the males can have as much as twice the amount of hair in this area. This is one of the most distinguished characteristics of males that makes it easy to identify the sex of an adult Golden Retriever on sight.


Mentally, the female Golden will mature faster than the male. In general, most females will start to come out of the “puppy” stage between 10 and 16 months of age.  Male Goldens tend to hold on to their puppy-like personality a little longer.  Most males tend to calm between 16 and 24 months of age. This does not mean that male Goldens are destructive the entire time. It just means that they may be more active and energetic. Nonetheless, this breed is meant to have energy. Do not expect your Golden to EVER be a dog that can lay on the couch all day with no need to exercise. Even my 4 to 6-year-old dogs still need to go outside for their zoomie sessions or they will become unruly. These dogs need to be able to run a couple of times a day (even if it is in the backyard).

Physically, males mature faster than females. This can be beneficial with potty training as the male’s bladder will become larger and stronger faster than the female's, enabling them to hold it for longer with less effort. Additionally, they will gain muscle mass and size faster than the girls.


If you are doing your research, there are contradicting ideas when it comes to training. Some say that since girls mature faster mentally, they are easier to train. Others say that since the male of the breed is a true people-pleaser, they are easier to train. You will also find articles that state that males or females are more stubborn than the other, depending on who is writing the article. In all honestly, it all depends on the type of training you are looking to do. 

In general, all Golden Retrievers are relatively easy to train. The only factor that you need to figure out is whether your dog is attention or food-driven. Once you figure that out, the training becomes easier. 

Female Training

Often, females can start and understand higher levels of obedience training earlier. This is due to their maturity level. They can also be trained to do anything a male can, but they may need a little more bribing as they are not as focused on pleasing their human. 

Male Training

For males, they always want to please their owners. The downside is that males often need redirection when training, due to their short attention spans. Young males often have “squirrel” moments. However, if you are training a male to bring a ball back or work on agility, they tend to grasp this quicker at a young age. 

Receiving praise and treats often makes the male want to do more. Owners must be aware that most male dogs and some females will work themselves to the point of breaking if the owner requests it. In turn, it is an owner’s responsibility to make sure that they do not overwork/play their puppy/dog. There must be a regulation of the chores given and games played. Additionally, short training sessions also tend to allow both male and female Golden pups to learn quicker as it does not give them as much of a chance to lose focus or interest.

Temperament Differences

Just as with the other aspects of Golden Retrievers, there are few differences when it comes to the temperaments of males and females. Nevertheless, there are some small differences that may matter to those looking for a puppy. 

Male Temperament

Male Golden Retrievers are incredibly loveable, playful, and sweet. They are one of the go-to dogs for people looking for an extremely affectionate pet. Since they take a bit longer to mature, a one-and-a-half-year-old male dog would typically act like a one-year-old female dog. Concerning temperament, as noted above, this means that the males tend to act like puppies for a bit longer.

Males are eager to please and would do just about anything for their owners. According to R. Ann Johnson, an award-winning breeder, author, and zoologist, males of this breed tend to worship the leaders of the pack (this should be their human). This is seen primarily in their concern for the feelings and moods of their owner. For this reason, male Goldens make wonderful support animals for PTSD and anxiety. Additionally, males tend to be affectionate for longer periods of time. They will stay at their owner’s side all day if need be. They also tend to be more of a cuddle bug. Male Goldens NEVER tire of receiving affection and love.

Female Temperament

Females, just like their male counterparts ADORE attention. However, they tend to want attention for attentions sake and not to make their human feel better. Once a female has had enough cuddle time, they will simply walk away and lie by themselves. Most female Golden Retrievers will not “worship” the leader of the pack and are more comfortable with being on their own. This does not mean that female Golden Retrievers are not loving and devoted. It just means that they are less likely to ‘please’ anyone to get their way. Female Goldens are devoted to their owners and extremely loving. Think of it this way, female Goldens genuinely love their owners, but males are “in” love with them.


Male Golden Retrievers are very trusting. They will welcome, play, and love on anyone into your home. The only reason a male would ever exhibit any aggression is if there is a direct threat to his owner. This makes them a lousy choice for guard dogs. Females can be a bit more standoffish when new people come into their house. 

Honestly, this primarily depends on how often you have visitors. If you do not have an extremely active house, your female may not immediately trust visitors. As a response, she may stand back and bark or hide in another room. However, once she realizes that her human is accepting of the trespassers, she will warm up to them. This can be “worked out” through socialization.

Overall, Golden Retrievers are tender, affectionate, kind, sweet, and loyal. The females do not lack in these areas as they share these same traits with the males. However, the scale is tipped just a little bit.


Additionally, they are both kid-friendly and excellent to have as a companion or hunting dog. There are a few differences in behavior though.


Oftentimes, males are a little bit more playful, carefree, and goofy than females. This means that sometimes, they can be clumsier. Since they mature quicker physically than the females, they can be giant puppies until around 24 or so months.

At adulthood, males can often weigh 70 to 90 pounds, and having that much weight prancing around toddlers can be a small issue. They love to play so much that accidental injuries can occur. With male Goldens, it is important to teach them as puppies that they must be mindful of the two-legged littles. Supervision is highly suggested whenever a young male Golden is around the human babies in the house.

On the other hand, male Goldens love kids so much that they can be around them all day. They are very patient and can tolerate all the excesses of a toddler without getting defensive or aggressive.


Females are usually a bit more reserved and more observant than males. While they love playing and goofing around, they also love to take a step back and enjoy their own company. This makes them slightly less likely to cause any sort of accidental injuries. Still – be mindful. If you have a female puppy, she is still a puppy and she can accidentally knock down small children or accidentally step on a baby.

Just like the male, females love to participate in the fun and games. However, they are less likely to do so all day long. When the girls are done playing, they will go and lie by themselves for some “me” time. Just as the males, females have an amazing tolerance for children. They put up with a great deal of the unintended roughness that children dole out.

Differences in Sexual Maturity

As early as 2015, the veterinary community still suggested that dogs be spayed/neutered between five and eight months.  Now, studies have suggested that both males and females be sterilized no earlier than ten months of age. If an owner decides to wait to get their dog spayed/neutered, then they will have to deal with the changes that come along with sexually mature dogs. 


On the average, females will come into their first heat between 7 and 10 months.  This, of course, comes with bleeding and some possible mood changes. Females could become a little less tolerant and want to spend a little more time on their own. She may also become a bit more territorial.

At this time you may notice females “marking.”  No, they do not hike their leg on everything they see. However, they will still mark. You may notice that she will walk around the yard and stop multiple times to squat. This is how a female will mark. It is a good idea not to allow play dates with other dogs when your female is in heat as she may not be as accepting towards other dogs.

Once the heat is over, she will return to “normal” and there will be no lasting mood changes. After her spay, this will no longer happen. In addition, the spay may have a calming effect since she will no longer have the estrogen hormone. 


For males, they can reach sexual maturity by seven months of age. Sexual maturity does not always mean that they will “mark” their territory. There is a chance, that unless there is another male or intact female in the house, they will not start hiking their leg. However, there is a chance that this can happen depending on to dog’s surroundings and personality. 

Once sexually mature, males are more prone to wander. In this case, if your dog can get out of your yard or is in an area off leash, there is a higher chance they will go “scouting” for a female. For this reason, you need to be vigilant of your male as long as he is intact. Once your dog is neutered, he may or may not revert to pre-sexual maturity. 

If your male starts marking when intact, there is a good chance that he will continue even if he is neutered. At this point, it is a training issue and you must teach him that there is a place and time for everything…including marking. On a tree outside, acceptable. On the couch, is not acceptable. However, the need to roam should be thwarted once he is neutered as he will no longer have the drive to breed.

Interaction with Other Dogs

I always say that I love the fact that I can have playdays for my past puppies here at the house. The Golden Retriever is one of the few breeds where you can bring multiple dogs from different households together and there are rarely any issues. Those issues that may arise (although rarely) are one dog putting the other “in their place” for all of twenty seconds and then right back to playtime. However, your Golden’s interactions with other dogs do have something to do with socialization. It is always best to make sure that your puppy/dog is socialized both inside and outside your home with other dogs. This will only make the natural friendliness of the Golden Retriever stronger.

Naturally, Golden Retrievers are mellow dogs that can exist with any other creature peacefully. They are one of the best family dogs in the whole world and will happily cohabitate with other dogs. Their friendliness is like a well-known trademark. This means that overall, your Golden will be very welcoming of other dogs and will, in fact, not hesitate to run off to play with them.


In the park, male Goldens are the life of the party. Outside the house, both males and females will play with just about any dog with reckless abandon.

At home, however, you need to be careful of the personality of the dog you introduce to them. While they can be very friendly and welcoming, they can get defensive if new dogs mistreat them on their own turf. Males are not extremely protective of their territory, so they rarely show issues with sharing their space unless the problem is brought in by the other dog.


Females are no less welcoming than males, but they tend to exercise their dominance from time to time. Naturally, females determine the pecking order and pack hierarchy and do not hesitate to apply dominance when competition arises. This means that when another dog is brought into their territory, they will be made (by the female) to follow some rules and stay within the boundaries. As a result of this, females can be dominant when anything threatens the order they have put in place.

Better Family Pet

Both male and female Golden Retrievers are amazing family dogs; hence there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Both genders thrive in a family environment. They are both loving, loyal, attentive, patient, kind, and affectionate. They both adore their pack (family members), and love being a part of it.

Both males and females are great with children and great with other pets. They are energetic and love to play. They even make great therapeutic dogs.

Advantages of Male Golden Retrievers in a Family Environment:

Advantages of Female Golden Retrievers in a Family Environment:

Final Thoughts

After researching Golden Retrievers and deciding you want one, any gender will work fine in just about any home that can provide love, exercise, and structure. The differences in their temperaments are not extreme, and they both share all the great qualities equally.

It does not matter if you are a lone wolf or have a large family, either gender will make an amazing pet. Whether you choose to get a male or female Golden, part of making them the perfect family dog is up to you. To make sure the dog fits into your family, it is your job to make sure they have clear house rules, get some training, and are well socialized.  Nonetheless, with a little time and effort, there is no doubt that you will LOVE this breed.

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