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Labradors can make great hunting companions and are a top choice for hunters seeking a bird dog. It is true that genetics can make some dogs better suited for hunting than others. However, some people think that male Labs are better than females for hunting. So are they?
Both male and female Labradors can be excellent hunting companions when adequately trained. While genetics can play a role in determining an effective breed for hunting, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that one sex is better suited for hunting than the other.
Now don’t mistake the fact that neither sex is “better” for hunting to mean that there are no differences. While individuality exists, certain traits do tend to favor one sex over the other. You should understand those differences to evaluate if one sex is more likely to be a better fit for you.
Be Aware of Individuality of Labs
Some people think that male Labs make better hunters than their female counterparts and that they’re bigger and stronger. Know that may not always be the case.
Some female Labs can be bigger than the males.
Male Labs can weigh between 65 and 80 lbs (29.48 and 36.28 kg), whereas the females can weigh between 55 and 70 lbs (24.94 and 31.75 kg), which suggests male Labs are bigger than female Labs at optimum growth.
In reality, not all males will grow to 80 lbs (36.28 kg).
There are different types of Labradors, with some being smaller than others. Some small Labs (as small as 55 lbs or 24.94 kg) are considered healthy and strong. Often, they perform better than bigger Labs.
Differences in Male and Female Labs
Male and female Labs have different character attributes, although females can display male-like tendencies in some cases.
Both male and female Labs can make excellent hunting dogs. Often, understanding their personality traits can be more beneficial than focusing merely on their physical traits. That way, you can weigh the pros and cons of raising either sex.
Pros of Male Labradors
- Rugged and muscular: Most male Labs are bigger and more athletic than female Labs, so generally, they’re slightly stronger. Bigger male Labs are stronger than female Labs and more resilient outdoors. This holds true in the cold rain, snow, or water.
- High focus and discipline: Generally, Labs are outgoing, energetic, and agile. Properly trained male Labradors tend to be highly committed to their jobs and spend less energy on their social lives. However, they can sometimes get easily distracted.
- Highly trainable: Training a male Lab is no easier than training a female because, in the end, it all boils down to how the trainer deals with the male’s social behavior. Male Labs tend to be less sensitive than female Labs, so they won’t get easily hurt when correcting their behaviors.
- Fewer behavioral problems after spaying: Neutered male Labs usually display fewer behavioral problems than those that aren’t, and they act less territorial. The cost of neutering male dogs is typically cheaper than spaying females.
Cons of Male Labradors
- Always curious and exploring: While this attribute isn’t necessarily bad, it can be problematic during training or hunting. A curious male Lab can get easily distracted when there is a female in heat nearby. Instead of focusing on training or hunting, it follows the scent that leads it to the female Lab.
- Slower learners: Female Labs mature quicker than male Labs and are faster learners during puppyhood. So if you have a male Lab puppy, be patient when training one.
- Competitive and territorial: Male Labs will always be happy to please their owners, and thus, can do well at both training and hunting. However, male Labs can be territorial around other Labs, which can lead to fights.
- Stubborn and rebellious: Compared to female Labs, male Labs can be challenging to train, so trainers must behave extra strictly with them. Some female Labs can portray a similar behavior.
Pros of Female Labradors
- Lighter and more agile: Female Labs are generally smaller than male Labs, and thanks to their smaller and lighter bodies, they can be more agile than their male counterparts. For this reason, female Labs make great hunters, particularly in the upland hunting grounds.
- Highly trainable: Labradors are one of the world’s most intelligent dog breeds, so it won’t matter much if you get a male or female Lab. Of course, you should pick the Lab that best suits your training style because every Lab has a different personality.
- Faster learners: Female Labs typically mature quicker than male Labs, so they usually pick up new tricks quickly during puppyhood.
- Fewer behavioral problems after spaying: Female Labs have heat cycles every six months, and during this period, they tend to be more aggressive towards other females and get easily distracted. Spaying can lessen negative behaviors.
Cons of Female Labradors
- Aggressive towards other females: Female Labs can display territorial behaviors, especially around other females. This can be a problem during hunts with other female Labs. However, you can manage the behavior with training or spaying.
- Stubborn and demanding. While female Labs love to please their owners, they sometimes expect to be pleased. Some days female Labs can experience mood swing and refuse to hunt. However, not all female Labs are like this.
- Less tolerant to cold: Compared to male Labs, female Labs are less tolerant of harsh conditions due to less body fat. Even so, Labs, in general, can work in cold weather thanks to their water-repellent double coats.
How To Choose the Right Lab for Hunting
Choosing the right Lab for you must start early if you intend to raise and train it to hunt.
When choosing your puppy from the litter, make sure you get it from a good and responsible breeder. A proper Labrador breeder will be able to tell you if a puppy is strong, healthy, and genetically predisposed to suit your needs.
It’s vital to choose the Lab that suits the kind of trainer you are.
I highly recommend using an online training program to train your dog yourself, but with the guidance of a professional. This alternative to traditional training is both convenient as well as cost-effective.
Many men prefer to train male Labs because they often go for the assertive approach. This method generally works well with male Labs. However, trainers with a strict training approach also find male-like female Labs suitable as well. These females display a less sensitive personality.
Again, both male and female Labs are highly trainable, excellent students, and with the proper training, can become top hunting dogs. When deciding whether to pick a male or female Lab as your hunting partner, ask yourself these essential questions:
- Is a male or female more suitable for your training approach?
- Will you be hunting in harsh conditions?
Some Labs are more laid-back than others, while some are more energetic.
Most hunters will want highly energetic Labs (always eager to please) for hunting, but such a character is easier to spot when the dogs reach about 1 ½ months old. That said, you might want to consider picking your puppy only when they reach this age.
So, are male or female Labs better for hunting? Neither. Both male and female Labs are intelligent dogs and can make terrific hunting companions.
When appropriately trained, both sexes can become outstanding hunters. Due to their different attributes, choose the dog that is most suitable for your training approach.
When training your Lab, take into account that different Labs have different personalities. Consider your choice based on your hunting style and frequency.
Consider spaying or neutering your Lab, too. This can reduce or eliminate behavioral problems that can affect your hunt.