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Discussion Starter #1
I know that it's also included in the breed standard that every animal should give "a definite impression of masculinity or femininity, according to its sex" and secondary sex characteristics should be "strongly marked." Can anyone explain what exactly it is about a dog that makes it look feminine or masculine to them? Also, what are the secondary sex characteristics. They all look gender-neutral to me. Pix might be helpful, if you have any that might be illustrative.

Thanks!
 

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To me, it's all about the head. IMO a male dog should have a big, wide head, while a bitch head is more refined. I am sure someone will post photos that show you the difference.

It seems the head is the last thing that develops as far as secondary sex characteristics--it takes about 3 years for a dog's head to develop its full masculinity. Dogs that are neutered young tend to have bitchy-looking heads.
 

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What Freestep said I think is what they are referring to, primarily. Males are supposed to have pretty strong and marked musculature also, without testosterone that is difficult to develop, that goes along with the "bitchy-looking" heads that he mentioned.

I think wider, broader chests are a factor too. Narrow chest cavities are more common when they are done young.

I don't know of any dog pics that are a really good illustration of this, but if you do a google image search for "geldings" and "stallions" you can see a big difference there. But that is a much larger animal, too. I presume something similar goes on with most mammals?
 

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http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/breed-standard/129037-secondary-sex-characteristics.html
http://www.gsdca.org/Noframes/standard/IllStan1.htm
Some people are breeding solely for the big blocky head...that should not be a reason!
I think the male should look like a male,
but to quote the Captain ~
'Exaggeration is bad in all circumstances'

Kacie, my female has a larger masculine head...as a long coat, its hard to tell she is female.
Karlo has a nice male head, but it isn't blocky whatsoever. I think he is balanced. Onyx is as large as Karlo, but she has a feminine head:Onyx in the back, Karlo in the middle:


** Oversized photo removed by Admin. Please resize to no more than 800X600 as per rule #15 and repost. ***
 

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What are the secondary sex characteristics?
It's anything that distinguishes males from females that is not the, erm...the stuff between their legs.

It's fairly vague criteria, and not always very obvious if you aren't around tons of dogs in your day-to-day job I imagine (it's not always obvious to me). Stuff like musculature, head shape, maybe the size of the chest cavity (not sure on that one though). As far as how you'd specifically define that, as a sort of standard...that much is lost on me =/.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Plus, that first picture of Sage is so cute, I just want to hug him!!

I can see differences between Sage and Akbar, but I guess I've been thinking they're just random differences between individuals, not indicative of gender at all.
 

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Secondary sex characteristics is kinda vague. They are usually things that are hormonally influenced... in people, breasts and facial hair.

In the dogs, the males have a much more developed musculature. A slabby male with little muscle would be lacking in secondary sex characteristic.
 

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To be fair Akbar is from DDR lines and I've never seen a DDR dog not look like a brick house with a blocky head. Sage is a mix of lines so I am not going to blame it all on early neuter.

Samba- what is "slabby" ?
 

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What would you consider the earliest age to neuter and still develop secondary sex characteristics?
Probably not until they finish developing them around two to three years of age. And even then with the males you'd want them active in some kind of sport, like agility or schutzhund, in order to keep the muscle (if that is indeed considered a secondary sex characteristic). Muscle tone is difficult to maintain once you lose the testosterone, and even more difficult to build. Maybe there is HRT for dogs? XD. Hehe.

My uncle's dog is pretty active and had VERY strong musculature at about 15 months of age, but has lost a lot of that since he was neutered at that time. He still gets a lot of exercise but it's not enough. Some of that is overfeeding, though. I'm not sure how he would look if he dropped the few extra lbs he has on him.

A good portion of that is probably genetics, though. That dog I was talking about there has a very masculine head I think, and had that even from an early age. He is from West German lines.
 

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There are hormone receptors in the muscles. Once the hormonal flow is gone, the muscle reduces some in both males and females. I notice it first in the head muscles. My vet was careful to explain this to me prior to spaying my female. He knows I notice "looks".
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I am, apparently, completely oblivious. Or possibly obtuse. I looked through the thread Jane linked and I guessed right every single time...every time that the males and females were clearly labeled, that is. I think I'm getting confused because the masculine characteristics you're describing sound like Shasta and she looks like a girl to me (ah, a mother's love is blind).
 

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What about these two, Paula?



I think it's really obvious, but maybe that's because I already KNOW! But we had them out together at the brew pub once, and someone at the next table looked over at them and said "that's the boy (pointing at Keefer) and that's the girl (pointing at Dena)". She was right, and prior to that we hadn't talked to them at all, so the woman wouldn't have had any way of knowing that they were not both males or both females.
 
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