Like most dog owners, you are probably always wondering how your pooch sees and interprets the world around them. Do they understand what you’re saying? Do they know what color you’re wearing? Do they know what gender you are?
These are all interesting thoughts. What if your dog did understand what gender you are, though? Would that make a difference to you? There is a small amount of research that explores if a dog truly knows what gender you are, and it’s very engaging.
Signs a Dog is Getting to Know You
There isn't very much research on how your dog will act if they sense you're a man versus a woman. However, it is safe to say that dogs use all of the senses they have at their disposal to take in Information about the world around them. So, we do know how a dog acts if you're meeting them for the first time.
There are a few signs you might notice as they take in more information about you! You might notice them sniffing you at first. Dogs have a very keen sense of smell. So, sniffing can be a very common occurrence as a pup meets new people.
They might also stare at you, and take in how you look. There's compelling evidence that dogs can recognize faces, so they might be trying to get a good look at your mug. Aside from those things, every dog reacts a little differently. They might try to lick you or jump up on you if they feel comfortable. However, they might also not like what they see, or smell, and react in a less positive manner, or perhaps show no interest at all.
As for if a dog is determining the gender of a human? One of the few studies on the subject mentioned that some of the dogs that were involved seemed to sit in one place and look toward the male human when they heard a male voice, and the female human when they heard the female voice. Not every dog could do this, however. So, there isn't too much more they did to indicate they were sensing one gender over another.
There is some evidence dogs can smell pheromones too. So, perhaps they might try to sniff you as well, but there isn’t too much on this subject concerning gender.
History of Dogs and Gender
Historically, gender has been a big part of human language, reproduction, art, music, science, and more. It's a huge part of how humans interpret the world and portray things in everyday life. It can also be a very controversial topic as humans sometimes identify as a different gender than how they were born biologically.
We're not sure if dogs think or feel this way too, but it is interesting to note that gender is very important to dogs as well. If anything, dogs need to be able to determine gender within their species in order to reproduce. This has been very historically significant since, well, as long as we can remember.
As far as dogs knowing each human's gender, it really isn't crucial to them. However, it does show humans that their pups truly know them, and have an understanding of who they are as a person. It also goes to show that a dog can tell the difference between people, too, which is a pretty important piece of information.
Science Behind Dogs and Gender
Scientifically speaking, as mentioned above, there was one main study that showed that some dogs can probably tell the difference between human genders. The researchers used many dogs and several different breeds. To get started, the scientists would place a dog in front of a male human and female human.
Then, the scientists played a recording of a male or female voice. They then observed which way the dog looked. They found that dogs that lived in households with three or more adults were able to identify male versus female humans better than dogs that only had a single owner.
Another interesting study that Time pointed out was actually about humans. It turns out humans might be able to smell pheromones of the opposite sex. The researchers in this study had people of all sexual orientations watch some dots on a computer that represented a human walking. As the viewers watched, researchers exposed the viewers to neutral, male, and female scents without them knowing.
Interestingly, straight men thought what they were watching looked feminine, straight women and homosexual men found what they were watching looked more masculine, and bisexual or homosexual women had different responses. So, how does this relate to dogs? Well, it shows gender might at least have a smell. If this is the case, your pooch has a much better sense of smell than you. So, could they smell the different pheromones and hormones in your body? Maybe so!
Training Your Dog to Sense Gender
As far as training a dog to recognize gender, it seems like your best bet is just exposing them to a lot of different people so they can learn more about the world around them. That's all you can do.
If you'd like to make sure your pup knows you well, make sure you bond with them. Spend plenty of time with your pup and make sure they get lots of play time and walks from you. Cuddle with them, praise them, and maybe slip them their favorite treat every once in a while.
So, at the end of the day, can your dog smell your gender? Maybe. We’ll have to wait for more research on the subject to be done.
By Katie Anderson
Published: 05/30/2018, edited: 04/06/2020