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Boy or Girl
When someone approaches me about acquiring their first English Setter, they often ask “should I get a boy or a girl?” My answer is always “yes.”
Either one can work beautifully in almost any home. The following generalizations are what my experience tells me is often true, but, of course, there are exceptions.
Many folks have the perception that bitches are docile, easy to manage, and quiet, whereas males do a lot of marking, are macho, and hard to handle. Those traits might be true of some breeds but in English Setters, not so much.
Carefully bred English Setter males should not be aggressive toward other males. They don’t send out vibes that make intact males they encounter want to fight them. If threatened, they will defend themselves (and you), but they hardly ever initiate aggression. If you already have a male dog, chances are you can add an English Setter male to your household if you take common sense precautions.
Males can be trained not to mark in the house, and once trained, they hardly ever make a mistake.
English Setter girls mature physically and mentally earlier than males. They are alert to their environment (“what can I get into next?”) and use their charms to melt you in order to get something they want.
Girls often learn new skills more quickly than boys, and they are not intimidated by much. Like boys, they will defend themselves and you when necessary.
Both English Setter puppy boys and girls are playful, affectionate, and can be quite naughty. Household contents and human body parts must be safeguarded from the marauding teeth until the puppy approaches a year of age when those bad habits begin to fade away. Once again, common sense should be liberally applied.
Both genders are usually very gentle with children. They tolerate ear pulling and pestering with patience. If a child starts to hurt an English Setter, the dog will often just get up and move away. Adult supervision is always required when dogs and children get together. And, children need to be taught to interact considerately and gently with the family puppy or dog.
Both boys and girls love activity and need exercise. The saying “a tired puppy is a good puppy” applies equally to both genders.
If size is a factor for you, of course girls are smaller than boys. When fully grown, boys are about 25” tall at the withers and weigh about 65 pounds, whereas girls are about 23” tall at the withers and weigh about 50 pounds. Both tend to think of themselves as lap dogs.
Many personality differences fade away as boys and girls mature. Most English Setter adults are affectionate, laid back, and gentlemen and ladies by nature as long as they get the exercise they need for optimum health and have an outlet for their energy.
Don’t shy away from a boy if you are looking for a sweet, docile, loving companion who has bursts of energetic playfulness. If you want a pert, sharp-witted, quick, lively creature that pursues her own agenda, then a girl might be just the ticket for you.
I like to sum up the differences as English Setter puppy boys seem to say “Mom, dad, I love you so much.” Puppy girls seem to demand “Love ME!”