Dog Stories

Should Breeding Female Dogs Choose Their Mates?

Lacking substantial data, the question whether or not a specific dog breed truly recognizes their own breed is a study yet to be done scientifically. The question whether or not the body language of a female dog shows male preference is asked by very few breeders or dog owners. But recently this question was asked by Lorraine M. seeking a response at Yahoo! Answers:

“hi i have a cavalier king charles who is quite nervous around other dogs since being attacked two weeks ago he wasnt hurt ,just shaken hes slowly getting better with other dogs and i have found when he meets another cavy he doesnt seem as scared is it cause they recognize there own breed?”

With most of the answers to the above question returned with a strong yes, this is a question I have asked myself several times over my eleven years working with dogs.


We have a large 50′ x50′ exercise pen centered between several large 10′ x 10′ pens that open into the center area—with each pen housing one dog and of a specific breed.  Once to twice a day they are let out to exercise one at a time on an individual basis, with each dog lmost always going to a pen on the other side which houses their own breed—almost as if they recognize it on some level—whether that other dog is a male or female. Back when we were breeding dogs, they would predominately refuse a dog of another breed (unless they had no choice) while seeking a mate of their own.

They only exception was when they were bred continuously as a hybrid–upon which they will always choose their “old boyfriend” who they were always bred with. Those female dogs would always go to their mate, instead of their own breed. The intelligence of these dogs were outstanding, as if they had a complete comprehension which male ‘belonged to them!

Because of this, I am not saying a breed will not mate with another breed, as many breeders specifically will mate two different purebred breeds (one that is registered with a purebred agency) with one another. One registered purebred breed—such as the registered poodle—can be bred to a registered cocker spaniel to develop the hybrid “cock-a-poo”. In order for the cock-a-poo to be registered as a hybrid, it will require two different registered purebred parents. This is different from a mixed breed or mongrel, where the background is mixed or questionable. Unfortunately, many people refer to the hybrid dog as a mutt or a mongrel mixed breed, which they definitely are not.


The results of observing our females over the years gave us pause to think differently than most breeders. If a choice is given to the female dog when mating or exercising—which of course, depends on the type of owner or breeder involved–two things may develop: (1) that female will go to a male of their own breed to naturally develop a purebred puppy, or (2) that female will go to the male she is always bred with over the years even if it is another breed, such as the hybrids. But on the other hand (as if we did not know this one!), the male will always go to a female in heat regardless what the breed is, so this was not part of this theory.

A female dog that runs the streets or in the wild will breed with a dominant or alpha male who is the strongest of the dog pack. But even if that female is showing preference or why, one would not know. Packs overpower a female and choice is very seldom part of it. This is why owners should never allow an unspayed female to run in any manner. But given a choice in the correct settings, the female is the one in charge of her instincts, showing a preference to choose a mate based on her own best interests—strength, personality, breed, recognition, and availability of the surviving line that suits her own essence best.

By forcing a female dog to breed a male she is not interested in simply because she is in heat has been known to cause bad pregnancies, unsafe whelping, poor litters, or a mother who may or may not reject her own puppies. All of this has been within our own experiences with mating, as most large breeders do not consider the dog’s body language to be an important part of their mating process–other than if the female is in heat or not. This is why large kennels should cut down their numbers tremendously, allowing more focus on who their dogs actually are and developing quality puppies instead of quantity puppies.

Body language says it all, and should be considered as part of a quality breeding process. If it were so, easier pregnancies and higher quality puppies would develop by simply observing the body language of the female, paying attention to who she prefers to breed with for unknown reasons that we as humans are totally unaware of. Sadly, many females refuse to breed at one time or another, yet are forced into mating by an owner or breeder desiring yet “another litter” by simply locking that female into a pen with a male. Maybe instead of selling a “non-breeding” female to another unsuspecting breeder or dog owner, they should instead allow that female to choose another mate or buy another mate if needed. Or better yet, allow her to be purchased as a pet or through a breed resuce where she doesn’t have to be a mother if she doesn’t want to be! 🙂


We would be seriously interested in comments from other individuals who have seen a preference by their females to a certain mate. Share you stories!


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1 Comment

  1. March 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm — Reply

    Good afternoon, It’s a rare find for a nice blog like this. I enjoyed it. Kudos to you. Have a nice day!

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