MALE or FEMALE?
At eight weeks old, there is little difference between male and female puppies. On average, young male puppies tend to be slightly larger than their sisters. However, there is quite a degree of sexual dimorphism in the Tamaskan breed and there are several notable physiological features that begin to develop as they grow, specifically once they reach sexual maturity (puberty):
- Size: males are usually significantly larger (taller and heavier) than females. Males tend to be more masculine overall, while females tend to be more feminine and dainty. Of course, not all male Tamaskans will be larger than all female Tamaskans (it also depends on the specific bloodline) but, on average, the male puppies in a particular litter will grow to be taller and heavier than the female puppies in that same litter.
- Structure: males are usually more muscular and, as they mature, their head becomes much wider and larger/heavier. Males also have a more compact loin while females have a longer flank. It should be easy to immediately determine if a Tamaskan is a male or a female based on their physical features.
Males and females also differ in the bodily functions that begin at sexual maturity. In Tamaskan Dogs, sexual maturity is a gradual development process that usually starts around 9-11 months old, which is slower/later than many other dog breeds, which tend to reach puberty around 6-7 months old. In the Tamaskan breed, the worst “puberty phase” lasts from approximately 9-18 months old and is usually accompanied by a typical “teenage” stage (selective hearing, purposeful disobedience, etc). It can be a very frustrating time but, thankfully, it is a phase that they grow out of in due time, once their hormones level out. They are physiologically and psychologically mature at around 2 years old.
Starting around 9-11 months old, on average, females usually come into heat twice a year (every 6 months) for approximately three weeks. As with humans, heat cycles can vary slightly in length and frequency. Some females have a cycle every 5-6 months, others every 8-9 months and some every 10-11 months… some only have one heat cycle per year. During this time they cannot be walked in public places or participate in public events as the smell of the hormones drives the other dogs crazy. During the heat cycle, they have a bloody vaginal discharge, which means you will probably want to keep them off your pale carpets and furniture; they can also wear “panties” while they are inside the house or in the car. Whether or not this inconvenience is a big deal for you is a personal matter. You will also have to keep a very close eye on them during this time, to ensure there is no accidental mating or unwanted pregnancy. Sterilizing (spaying) a female dog is relatively expensive and the operation costs a considerable amount more than castrating (neutering) a male dog. However, if a female will not be used for breeding, then it is recommended to have her sterilized/spayed around 18-24 months old once she is fully mature and developed before there is a significant risk of pyometra (uterus infection), which is common in older intact females. Of course, there are potential side-effects of sterilization (spaying) that the owner should also take into consideration.
Starting around 9-11 months old, on average, males begin to lift their rear leg while urinating and some males may start marking their territory by urinating around their house/yard area. After defecating/urinating, they may also scratch the ground with their rear legs to spread their scent. Males usually become more dominant/confident as they mature, and more prone to fight if provoked. Some males tend to hump furniture or people, which should be actively discouraged but, if the male is to be a future stud dog, this must be done very carefully so as not to traumatize him or destroy his confidence (so that he will be willing to do the deed when necessary). If the owner decides to castrate (neuter) their male, it is recommended to have it done around 18-24 months old once he is fully mature and developed. Of course, there are potential side-effects of castration (neutering) that the owner should also take into consideration.
Many experienced dog owners have a natural preference for one gender or another and sometimes this is based on their perception of male and female temperament. Aside from physiological differences, there isn’t a huge psychological differentiation between male Tamaskans and female Tamaskans. Generally speaking, each individual dog has a unique personality and temperament. That being said, in my personal experience, I’ve noticed that male Tamaskan Dogs tend to be a bit more aloof and independent while females tend to be a bit more cuddly and clingy. Several other Tamaskan owners also report that males seem to be more easily distracted by their environment and less focused on their owner and, therefore, it is usually easier to train and work with females. Again, this varies greatly depending on the individual dog and, also, the owner as some people just have a better connection with males or females.