Clean Run - December 2012 - (Page 32)

Does Gender Matter When Choosing an Agility Dog? By Brenna Fender When you are choosing your next dog for agility, there are so many factors to consider. Should the gender of your dog or pup be one of them? To find out, I looked at several things. I asked representatives of several agility organizations to provide data about the gender of dogs earning advanced titles. I also created a survey to ask competitors about traits their male and female dogs possess. In addition, I contacted some trainers known for their national and international success and asked their opinions. survey is not scientific. Owners were left to determine the definition of high, moderate, and low drive, for example, so personal point of view will affect the outcome of this survey. Despite this fact, the survey results were interesting. Overall, the traits reported in dogs that compete in agility were very similar regardless of gender. A few minor differences appeared. Females were considered to be “quick learners” more often than males. For females, 88.2% of them were considered quick learners versus 81.8% of the males. Females were also considered to be more independent than male dogs at a ratio of 35.8% to 25.7%, respectively. Otherwise, as you can see, the traits listed appear with similar frequency in both genders. But when I broke down gender to divide dogs up by reproductive status (spayed or neutered versus intact), things got a little more interesting. For example, while the overall numbers of dogs described as “high drive” were similar for males and females (50.3% or 182 of the males in the survey were described as high drive versus 54.8% or 199 of the females), only 46.5% (125) of the 269 neutered males were considered to have this trait. More neutered males were said to have “moderate drive” and “low drive” than any of the other groups. In contrast, 62.6% (57) of the intact males were considered to be high drive, and 60% (36 out of the 60 intact females) were also listed as high drive. Only one intact male and two intact females were considered to be low drive. Looking at another desirable trait, “biddability,” 79.6% (288) of the male dogs in the survey and 74.4% (270) of the females were considered to be biddable, (with only 5.2% of the males and 7.7% of the females listed as “not very biddable”). While these stats seem pretty good, owners actually reported that 87.9% of the intact males were biddable versus 77% of the neutered males. In female dogs, 81.7% of the intact females were considered biddable but only 72.8% of the intact females were given this same designation. The percentage of intact males and females that are reported to enjoy agilClean Run | December 12 Statistics The first tactic proved fairly useless. NADAC and USDAA don’t keep track of the gender of the dogs they register. AKC does but did not have the appropriate reports to share with me. But Director of Agility Carrie DeYoung was able to provide statistics from the 2012 AKC National Agility Championship (447 males and 471 females) and the 2011 AKC Agility Invitational (253 males and 339 females). While this seems to say that female dogs have the edge, there are many factors that may influence this outcome. Do more people own female dogs than male dogs to begin with, possibly causing more of them to be entered in agility trials? Do more breeders keep females to title in AKC agility? There are too many confounding factors to draw conclusions from just this data, although it’s a fine place to start. The Survey Says... The survey was more illuminating. Dog owners were asked to complete a survey for each dog they owned. Survey questions included basic dog information (age, breed, reproductive status, and so on) and asked owners to indicate if their dogs possessed any of a list of positive and negative traits. I also asked owners to report which gender they preferred for training and competition. When the survey was closed, data on 734 dogs had been submitted. Amazingly enough, genders were split right down the middle: 362 males and 362 females. The following table shows survey responses involving traits that owners identified in their dogs. Of course, this 32

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - December 2012

Clean Run - December 2012
Table of Contents
Editorializing: All Roads
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
From Hoof to Woof: What Riders Can Teach Handlers: Identify Patterns to Gain Perspective
Challenges for Rising Stars
Power Paws Skills: Front Crosses
Agility Mind Gym: Full Circle
Training a Deaf Dog to Go the Distance
Awesome Paws Drills
Does Gender Matter When Choosing an Agility Dog?
Control Unleashed Solutions and Answers: The Overexcited Spectator
10 Games to Play with Dogs That Are Recovering from an Injury
Gait Analysis Helps Diagnose Early Lameness & Improve Performance
The F-Word: Building Resiliency to Failure!
Training with the Stars: Maureen Waldron
Building Blocks: Developing Solutions for Agility Problems
Being a Good Student, Part 2

Clean Run - December 2012