6 min read


Can Dogs Tell Gender of Humans?



6 min read


Can Dogs Tell Gender of Humans?


The human-canine bond has developed over centuries. Traditionally, it is thought that dog and man bonded together to hunt and guard their community. But, what if the scientists got this wrong? Maybe the dogs got cozy with the women, who had nice warm caves and huts with scraps they could generously share with the dog in hopes the dog would warn of danger. 

We never see the woman-dog bond story. When we think about dogs and their instincts to survive and to be social,  what we do know is that dogs like to eat, they like positive affection and they are really great friends to men and women. While some dogs may tell the difference between men and women, it may be that the human gender does not really matter to a dog.


Signs a Dog can Tell Human Gender

When it comes to dogs demonstrating what they think and feel, we need to look at their body language. Even when communicating with people, about ninety percent of the message will be based on posture, eye contact, arousal, and vocalizations. 

This is all true for your pet pooch as well. They may not have words to speak but they can tell you so much by their behavior and their body signals. It's important to be a good observer of your dog's signals, the context in which the dog is reacting, and the reactions of those in the vicinity to get a good read on what's on your dog's mind.

Dogs have many ways of showing their preferences. Whether male or female, dog or human, the dog is going to greet with a good sniff, typically in the crotch or the behind area - where the smells are strongest and most discerning of mating potential. 

Once the snuffling is over, you can get a feel for your dog's dominance or submission by the dog's body signals. The dominant dog will stand alert, with ears forward, nudging at the more submissive other. The submissive dog will actually go low to the ground, cower, and roll over, exposing the stomach. 

The submissive dog will pull the ears back and look to the side. The tail will be tucked, which is another sign of intimidation. It's best to let them get their sniffing and social testing in place and not interrupt the greeting rituals of dogs with one another.

When it comes to your relationship with your dog, whether you are a male or female, as long as you have a positive relationship, there are all kinds of ways that your dog will show you love. Your dog will cry hysterically and run in circles with joy when you come through the door. Doggy kisses will consist of licks to your face. 

Your aroma is so pleasing that your dog may just go steal your socks and undies to have your scent near even when you are away. Your dog may smile at you, invite you to play with a play bow, and romp with you outside. Dogs who love their family members will follow them around and snuggle up as much as possible. 

Your dog will try to please you and become very confused if you are in a bad mood. That loving mutt can even tell when you are sad or not feeling well and will stay by your side until you are feeling better. Whether you are a man or woman, boy or girl, when you have a positive and loving relationship with a dog, you have a truly loyal companion.

Body Language

Some signs a dog may give if they determine a person's gender include:

  • Alert
  • Shaking
  • Cowering
  • Sniffing
  • Tail Tucking

Other Signs

More indications that your dog knows human genders are:

  • Reacting Differently To Men And Women
  • Responding To Masculine Or Feminine Walks

The History of Dogs Determining Human Genders


We really don't know how it all began. The relationship between humans and dogs has evolved over the centuries. Wolves have the disposition to be social, to live in packs, and to pick up on social cues. The wolf has even been known to have natural dispositions to be tolerant of others.

These characteristics give us pause to consider that the evolution from wolf to dog, in relation to man, was one born out of these proclivities. When it comes to gender preferences in the evolution of human and canine, well, much of the history is written by men, so let's just leave it at that. 

Dogs relate equally well to women and men when they have been properly socialized as pups. The alpha in the human family of the pet dog may be a male or female. What is important is that the human establishes leadership with the dog, through patience and positive interaction, providing the resources that the dog needs to be healthy and safe. 

As long as the relationship is strong and the dog's needs are being met, human gender really does not matter. The dog is an equal opportunity pet.

The Science of Dogs Telling Human Gender


We do know that dogs have cognitive abilities to discern many things and to be responsive to human cues. They can even seem to respond to different people differently. Often, persons who adopt rescue dogs will notice that the dogs may react in a fearful way with men or particular characteristics of a gender. There are many who wonder if dogs can tell the the difference in human gender. 

Scientists have actually tested if dogs can tell the difference between men and women. In one study, the researchers used visual and auditory cues to test dog gender discrimination skills. The dogs were presented with a man and a woman who each stood by a speaker. The sound of a male voice and a female voice were played through the speakers.

Sometimes the voice matched the gender of the person. Sometimes the voice did not match the gender of the person. The scientists took note of the amount of time the dogs looked at the person when the voice matched the gender. What the study revealed is that the ability to tell gender is dependent on the dog's experience with humans of different genders. 

Dogs who had one master could not really tell when the voices did and did not match the gender of the human. Dogs living in households with three or more people were more discerning of the sexes. It is all a matter of social exposure and opportunity. What really counts is the positive relationship you build with your pet, no matter what your gender, age, or culture. It's all about the love in your home.

Training Your Dog to do Well with All People


Whether you live alone or in a big family, there will be times when people come into your home as new family members. It could be that you have a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe you are getting married. A child could be coming to live with you, or perhaps you get a house guest for an extended time. 

Whatever your circumstances, the new person in your life is bringing a change to your household. There are things you can do to help your dog have a smooth adjustment to the newcomer, whether male or female. 

1. Designate the dog's space. It can be a crate, a dog bed, or any other spot in the house that belongs to your dog. Some people will give the dog their own area, like a laundry room. Make sure your dog has a place of their own.

2. Prepare the new person on what to do to greet the dog. The person will need to hold still to allow the dog to sniff. Your responsibility is to make sure the dog and the new person are both comfortable and safe. If your dog is inclined to jump or is dominant in personality, you may want to have the dog on a loose leash. Model staying calm for the new person and the dog. Allow the dog to sniff and then bring the dog to his or her safe space.

3. Invite the new person to give the dog a treat. It may be that you tell the dog to "Sit" and the new person gives the treat to the dog. Do not have the new person feed the treat with the hand. Place the treat in a dish that is offered. 

4. Plan some fun activities that you and the new person can do with the dog. Take the dog for a walk together. Go outside to play together. 

5. Stay calm, positive, and patient as your dog gets used to having a new member of the pack. 

6. If your dog seems aggressive toward the newcomer, take this seriously. Do not make excuses for your dog's behavior. Make sure that all members of the household are safe and seek professional help with aggressive behaviors. 

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Written by a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lover Pat Drake

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 06/03/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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