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Gloria Atwater

Multi-male households: How's it work for you?

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Okay, I've got a puzzle I'm pondering. I'm presently on the lookout for a new puppy ... but I'm potentially limiting myself from some nice breedings by going with a preference for females - even though I really love the males.


However, the reason for that choice is because my present male, un-neutered Nick, turned into a jerk at about age 2 1/2 - 3 and began trying to bully my aging neutered male, Jesse, who had previously been his best pal and "uncle." For a couple of years we had to separate them whenever we left the house or could not supervise them. (Then Jesse got old and senile, and Nick decided he loved him again.) I could chalk that up to Nick "coming of age" and wanting to usurp the old pack leader, or some similar rubbish, but even today at age 6-1/2, he tends to hackle up when coming near other dominant-seeming males. It's his least loveable trait.

Anyhow, here's the thing. Our dogs come in the house at night, sleep in the bedroom and share a communal dog yard. We don't have an official kennel setup, and it would be pretty awkward to have two dogs who could not be trusted alone together, when they still have years ahead of them. We've had 4 male dogs over the years, but two of them were neutered and were never a problem. Some people have tried to tell me that Nick would be fine with a male puppy he helped raise, as he did our two girls, but if that puppy grew up to also be a strong personality, I worry I could be setting myself up for heartache.

What I'm curious to hear is if other people have had two or more intact males and were able to manage them without kenneling and keeping separate. Has anyone tales to tell, good or bad, about keeping two intact males? My inclination is to stick with the course I've chosen and limit my search to a female pup, but I'm curious to hear what people's experiences and thoughts might be, especially given the history Nick already has.

 

Musingly yours,

Gloria

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Nothing really to add Gloria other than I'll be watching this thread closely as we are searching for a pup which will most likely be male.

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I don't have experience in this area (and as if you need any advice from a novice dog owner!), but I'm curious to hear what others will say. My inclination would be to stick with another female, especially if the only inhibiting factor would be a slight preference for males. I would guess that problems would arise between the two if (when) the youngster started coming of age, as Nick did, and challenged for position. I imagine that if Nick at 6 1/2 is still iffy with other dominant dogs he will maintain that trait until older age. I could see some nasty possibilities for fights. But I suppose there's just as much chance for snarkiness coming from a female, he just might tolerate it better. These are just my instincts, I'm interested to see if they're anything like those from everyone else!

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My situation is different as Rievaulx gets along with most dogs, but we have had numerous foster dogs come through the house that have been intact and until the current one we have never had any issues, and some have been good friends with R, others have kept to themselves but the interaction between the dogs was always fine.

We have had a problem with the current one, as he had learned to be aggressive as a survival technique in the shelter, and he blindsided us and Rievaulx (yes we were watching and managing but...... ) before we got them apart R had the upper hand in the fight and foster dog now minds his manners. We had a couple of incidence of marking in the house, but now he has settled we have had no more problems, we are very careful but when we are home they are both out and about.

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OK.. lot's of "even ifs" and "what if's" here but....

 

the problem is that all dogs are different.

 

You may get some indication on how a pup will behave once he is grown up from his parents' temperament and from how he is with his littermates. But, even if you pick the 'most submissive' pup in the litter, you still cannot be 100% certain of how he will develop.

 

So even if others explain about how successful they have managed with their (intact) dogs together in the house (and I certainly know of some families who have been lucky with their dogs), I don't think it necessarily will translate to all dogs.

 

You already know that your Nick can be a jerk around other dogs.. and even though he may get on initially with the youngster, this could change as the pup reaches adolescence - especially when any of your (or someone else's) bitches come into season.

 

..but then as others have said, some bitches can be very snarky too...and bitch-bitch fights are no fun either...

 

So although you can probably stack the odds in your favour by choosing the 'right' pup and bringing him up to have good manners... the truth is that introducing any new pup/dog into a household will always be a bit of a gamble (especially when you go beyond 2 or 3 dogs).

 

In many ways, it must be much easier for those who kennel (or crate) their dogs separately and only allow them to mix for relatively shortish periods time during the day (ETA when they can be monitored) .

 

JMO.. YMMV

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I can't comment about multiple intact males as I only have one and he's 5 months. The moment he starts trying it on with other entire males his nuts are coming off. If he doesn't get stroppy he may keep them.

 

Dogs don't get along for a multitude of reasons whatever the gender.

 

I had 3 neutered males and 1 spayed bitch when I got my pup. I would have taken a dog or bitch, both had their pros and cons wrt dog family dynamics. I just keep my fingers crossed and so far so good.

 

He's outed my 9 yo collie that at times can put on a good show of being a devil dog as a total wuss. Seems like the older one has been waiting for a Mini Me collie to play with all his life.

 

The best laid plans can go belly up but dogs can also surprise us and get on well when we didn't expect it.

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I've had more problems with females not getting along than males, but none of my dogs are naturally inclined to be jerks toward dogs of one gender or another. I did have to rehome a young female who was attacking my older females (spayed and nonspayed). So even if you get a female pup thinking there won't be a problem with Nick, there could always be a problem with one of the females.

 

If you do go with a male (and I've had a multi-male household at times, though all males eventually neutered at some point, for various reasons, none related to male jerkiness), just remember that (at least IME) when the young male approaches adolescence, most other males may start taking exception to his very existence. If you get through that phase, you might be okay.

 

FWIW, the woman who has a littermate to my Pip raised a male in her household even though her Nick (Pip's brother) can be an ass toward other males. Nick and Linc get along fine. But when I had Nick for a period of time this past fall (dog exchange--I sent Pip to her for crate rest), he was something of a jerk to the young male foster I had. So there may truly be a difference based on whether another male is raised from puppyhood in the house. But I'm sure for every story that has had a good outcome of a male pup raised in a household with a dominant/jerk male, there are stories of poor outcomes.

 

From my perspective, I'd get the pup that I really wanted, and then I'd deal with the interpack dynamics as (if) they arise, just being cognizant of the fact that there will be a period of time when any male dog might want to take your younger male out (that adolescent period I mentioned). <--So not making decisions about either male during this period, unless it doesn't stop or escalates.

 

J.

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I've had more problems with females not getting along than males...

Personally, I used to be wary of having multiple females. Males (and as they are all rescues, none are intact) always seemed much easier to manage. This year, for the first time, I had three (dominant) females together and there were no issues at all. I believe that it is important to pick up the signals long before they grow into anything serious. Watch the body language and let them know, immediately, that you aren't going to take any nonsense.

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I've had more luck with multiple males than multiple females. My males tend to get along great with little bouts of bad feelings(maybe a bitch in heat somewhere in the neighborhood), whereas my females tended to be snarky with little bouts of getting along. I prefer to only have one female at a time.

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I have two males who do not get along - 6 years old and 11 years old. The younger male, Abe, was a typical young jerk and the older male, Dash, put up with it until Abe was about 1.5 years old and since then they need to be separated much of the time. Abe was neutered at 2.5 and Dash when he was young so not an example of two intact males. Abe's behavior with Dash was about 50% of why he got neutered. Since Abe I've had 3 other dogs - 1 male and 2 females. Abe and the male got along fine but I sold him when he was about a year and a half so I'm not sure if that might have changed as he got older (I think it wouldn't have) and he's gotten along fine with the females. Abe, like Nick, will get his hackes up with intact, dominant acting males. I love males and prefer them to females but have been hesitant to have an intact male while Abe's still around.

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I'm afraid I'm not going to be much help with my personal experience. I've had combinations of intact males, neutered males, intact and neutered males and the same with females with no real issues. And I've had a series of fosters, some intact when coming in but neutered by the time they left. Only had problems with one, a spayed female who started off only having trouble with my very innocent female but then became indiscriminate about who she attacked.

 

So I agree with the others who've said it's going to depend on the individual dogs. Julie's and JohnLoydJones' comments were, IMO, spot on.

 

I think my female lurcher had the potential to be the snarky bitch type but I nipped it in the bud when she tried it out. Obviously, it wasn't a terribly strong inclination with her; I'm sure there are some whose genetic proclivity is more hardwired.

 

I do think that your attitude regarding how the dogs will be permitted to interact right from the start will go a long way in establishing boundaries. I think it probably will also help that the puppy will start out being in the typical puppy submissive role and grow up respecting his place in the social order and that Nick can be discouraged from bossing him around while the puppy's still young enough not to be perceived as a real threat.

 

But there are never any guarantees. I think you just go with what you like do what you can do to help things develop smoothly.

 

I hope this doesn't sound too silly, but I wonder if it might be useful to let Nick have a say in choosing the puppy. I did that once when I was getting a kitten who would be my then only dog's sole furry companion for a while when I wasn't in a position to get another dog. There were 2 kittens to pick from and he had a clear preference for one of them . . . and one of the kittens had a clear preference for him. We chose the one who liked him best and they became fast friends. (In this case I actually ended up lying to him and took the kitten who wasn't growling and spitting at him, even though he was entranced by it. :P )

 

So if I were in a situation like yours and had the option of being allowed to choose from 2 or more pups, I'd be inclined to explain the situation to Nick and ask him which one he'd like to bring home with him. Carefully watch the interactions between him and the puppies to see if there isn't one he seems to get along better with than the other(s).

 

I honestly think dogs understand a lot when we explain things to them and/or ask them to make certain choices, and asking him who he'd like to live with might just help things out.

 

Whatever you do, I wish you the best experience ever bringing the new pup into your lives.

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I had two neutered males who had issues with each other (I know you asked about intact . . . ). It was a long, tough road - it began about 3 years after we adopted Dean - all was well prior to that. Things would go well for a while and then everything would explode and we would have to do more strict separation. Then Sammie got old and he would not tolerate separation from the group, so it was always Dean who had to be separated out, even if Sammie instigated the incident (and it was sometimes one and sometimes the other who started things). It was difficult. We did the best we could, and there were a lot of good times, but it was never the same as having a group of dogs who live peacefully with each other. (Which, my goodness, I am absolutely reveling in now!!!)

 

But, really, it was the chemistry between those two dogs. Neither of them ever had a bit of trouble with Speedy, who could sass Dean and egg him on in play and Dean just looked amused, and Dean has been doing fine with Bandit (who is intact, and at 10 months old is starting to test the waters with Dean) even though Bandit jumps in and instigates play with Dean whenever he wants to. Dean and Bandit, so far, seem to communicate perfectly and any short bursts of snarkiness resolve immediately. They seem to understand each other, and genuinely like each other, and I haven't seen anything remotely like the issues that Sammie and Dean had. And both were always fine with the girls, and the two girls (for the one year we had them together), got along beautifully.

 

Obviously, I have no idea if things would have been different if they had been intact.

 

I had reservations about a male puppy because of Sammie and Dean's history, but having watched Dean get along with Speedy, I also knew that things had the potential to be fine. Of course, I know that Bandit still has maturing to do, but based on what I see so far, I do think they are not going to have any issues. Bandit is mentally balanced and he always seems to know exactly what to do when Dean is in a slightly "unbalanced" frame of mind (if he is anxious due to thunderstorms or gunshots or something that he can hear that we can't). I was impressed with how Dean interacted with Bandit when Bandit was a growing puppy and now I am impressed with Bandit and how he interacts with Dean when Dean isn't at his best . . . which seems to have resulted in Dean being at his best a heck of a lot more than he used to be!

 

I just wanted a boy this time so I took a calculated risk, and I am very optimistic about the situation.


I am not going to keep Bandit intact forever, but at this point I anticipate getting past the one year mark without issue, and I think I am going to be able to make the neutering decision based on when it is best for Bandit, and not because I am worried about issues between him and Dean. They have a good chemistry between them that Sammie and Dean never had - even before they developed issues.

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I've never had a problem with the boys. I've had problems with the females but really I only had 2 that fought.

 

My two boys get along well right now but both are really very gentle dogs. Joey is only 1-1/2 so that may change at some point. Zeke never pushes. He will just back down.

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With foster dogs I, like John Lloyd Jones, have had far more issues with females, whether spayed or not, than with males in my household, but that could also be due to the attitude of my female dog, who tends to be grouchy.

 

The thing is you just can't ever predict how things may change in the future. Two dogs who got along beautifully at first could become enemies who have to be kept separate five years down the road - I have actually seen that happen. (They were ACDs, not border collies, don't know if that makes any difference.)

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Boy, it can be one of those deals where you don't know how things will go until your in the middle of it and can see the incoming storm clouds. With us having breeding males, we have a extra dynamic but find that some males just don't get along with other males, it's more of a individual thing. Same with females, some get along well with other females and some flat out hate certain individuals.

 

I've found that we can raise a young male pup in with our house dogs (Jake & Ricky) and so long as he stays part of the house pack things will go well, but if he goes off for training or one of the older males goes off for a stay at the feedlot the dynamics are not the same when all come back home.

 

Everyone here does get crated at night and when unsupervised so as to ensure that everything will be exactly as it was when we went to sleep or left. Safest for the house and the other dogs.

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To be clear, the only real problem I ever had with bitches was with the young female who wanted to pick fights with my old ladies, pretty much from the start (obviously not when she was a little puppy, but about the time puppy license was fading and the older dogs started taking exception to some obnoxious behavior). In that case, I could have managed it, but I found that MY tolerance for her, say, during training was being colored by her behavior off stock (and that behavior was limited to only outside and if she was excited over me coming out to feed, for example) and it was clear to me that it was not fair to her for me to keep her knowing that my feelings for her were being colored by her behavior toward my old girls (it's more complicated than that, having to do with her ability to exhibit self control and not be overstimulated by simple things, like me coming out the door, but the upshot was that I was starting to not like her, and that wasn't a good thing for either of us).

 

I have always had a preference for females, at least until Pip came into my life, and have kept multiple females with one or males sprinked in as they entered my life/pack. This last litter, I really wanted a male pup because I love the male personalities from those lines, but there was just one male and he was spoken for before I spoke for a pup, so I brought home a female. I don't expect there to be any issues, despite five other females already in the house (poor Pip, with the loss of Farleigh this summer, is seriously outnumbered).

 

The other issue I had was with with two adult dominant females, but it never amounted to outright nastiness. I used to liken their behavior to two little old ladies trying to whack each other over the head with their patent leather purses. But really the main snark was the occasional flyby (or totter by in their later years :D ).

 

I do think being able to read dogs is critical to avoiding avoidable situations, but the constant vigilance required when dogs really want to harm one another can be tiring. Fortunately aside from the one youngster, I've never had dogs who actually wanted to kill one another or do real harm, and basic snarkiness was/is pretty easily managed.

 

J.

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Are all your girls spayed?

 

Yes, Mark, they are. We've never kept an intact female. That's been mainly because for years we were either on ranches that had other intact males about, or lived in rural neighborhoods where intact males sometimes roamed. For the last 6 years we haven't had those problems, but the two girls we have now are spayed because we kept Nick intact - and one of those females is his sister. ;)

 

Reading on, good discussion, thanks, all!

 

~ Gloria

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...

 

If you do go with a male (and I've had a multi-male household at times, though all males eventually neutered at some point, for various reasons, none related to male jerkiness), just remember that (at least IME) when the young male approaches adolescence, most other males may start taking exception to his very existence. If you get through that phase, you might be okay.......

 

Oh, lord, yes! When Nick hit his "teen" phase, he pissed other dogs off just by breathing air. :rolleyes: I didn't let it grow into overt trouble, but I did see that effect.

 

In retrospect, even though my old Jesse and Nick were great pals as Nick grew up, I probably missed some signals between them until it was too late, and Jesse in his aging was then unable to keep Nick "in his place." So, definitely I'd be a lot more cognizant of the earlier inter-dog dynamics, regardless of whether my next pup is a male or female, and regardless of how well they got along while the pup was still puppy-ish.

 

Thanks!

 

~ Gloria

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I have two intact males. One will be 8 at the end of this month, the other turned 2 at the end of last month. Neither are border collies. We've had no issues. I have seen a lot of neutered males who have ISSUES with intact males, though. Because of that, I am very likely going to neuter them both at the same time, though I only have any reason to neuter the 8 year old.

 

He's being neutered as a latch ditch effort to help him keep weight on. He looks pretty much like crap at this point (not healthy thin, too thin - all his ribs and spine clearly showing thin), and neutered animals have lower calorie requirements than intact ones. We've done blood work, we've done testing, he just does not eat enough and will not eat enough to maintain a healthy weight. He won't eat more so we're going to try this.


But I'm digressing.


Basically 2 intact males, and no problems between them. For years.


Never had any issues with my girls, either. I kind of expect some minor squabbling between Kylie and Molly once Molly's more mature, but I also suspect that it'll pass. They're not intact, though.

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Personally, I used to be wary of having multiple females. Males (and as they are all rescues, none are intact) always seemed much easier to manage. This year, for the first time, I had three (dominant) females together and there were no issues at all. I believe that it is important to pick up the signals long before they grow into anything serious. Watch the body language and let them know, immediately, that you aren't going to take any nonsense.

 

 

Agree. Though I've seen some pretty snarky bitch behaviors in other people's "packs," we've been lucky with our girls over the years, (though they were all spayed,) and I probably got spoiled that way. It's definitely something I'll keep foremost in mind, whenever I do get a new pup. The luck we've had may not always hold - and I do have an Aussie now with a streak of snark in her. ;)

 

~ Gloria

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....

 

I hope this doesn't sound too silly, but I wonder if it might be useful to let Nick have a say in choosing the puppy. I did that once when I was getting a kitten who would be my then only dog's sole furry companion for a while when I wasn't in a position to get another dog. There were 2 kittens to pick from and he had a clear preference for one of them . . . and one of the kittens had a clear preference for him. We chose the one who liked him best and they became fast friends. (In this case I actually ended up lying to him and took the kitten who wasn't growling and spitting at him, even though he was entranced by it. :P )

 

So if I were in a situation like yours and had the option of being allowed to choose from 2 or more pups, I'd be inclined to explain the situation to Nick and ask him which one he'd like to bring home with him. Carefully watch the interactions between him and the puppies to see if there isn't one he seems to get along better with than the other(s).

 

 

Actually, I've done just that! Both with a kitten many years ago - (our then-Aussie-with-a-tail raised that kitten and it grew up thinking it was a dog) - and again when I got Nick's younger sister. He loved Gael at first sight, she adored him and they've been that way ever since. :) So, not silly at all.

 

~ Gloria

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I asked because male-male interactions can be impacted by intact females.

 

We've mostly kept females (with very few issues); we've had mutliple males on a few occasions and their personalities were such to not cause issues. We currently have a pair of 8 month old male littermates (in addition to our 7 females); we'll have to wait a see how they get along as they get to THAT age.

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I have two intact males. One will be 8 at the end of this month, the other turned 2 at the end of last month. Neither are border collies. We've had no issues. I have seen a lot of neutered males who have ISSUES with intact males, though. Because of that, I am very likely going to neuter them both at the same time, though I only have any reason to neuter the 8 year old.

 

He's being neutered as a latch ditch effort to help him keep weight on. He looks pretty much like crap at this point (not healthy thin, too thin - all his ribs and spine clearly showing thin), and neutered animals have lower calorie requirements than intact ones. We've done blood work, we've done testing, he just does not eat enough and will not eat enough to maintain a healthy weight. He won't eat more so we're going to try this.

 

But I'm digressing.

 

Basically 2 intact males, and no problems between them. For years.

 

Never had any issues with my girls, either. I kind of expect some minor squabbling between Kylie and Molly once Molly's more mature, but I also suspect that it'll pass. They're not intact, though.

I hope it solves the issue. But I'll warn you that my early spayed girl had issues for years keeping weight on. She's 6 now and still eats a lot of high calorie food to stay at a healthy weight. And my two who were spayed/neutered as adults didn't eat any less post altering.

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I hope it solves the issue. But I'll warn you that my early spayed girl had issues for years keeping weight on. She's 6 now and still eats a lot of high calorie food to stay at a healthy weight. And my two who were spayed/neutered as adults didn't eat any less post altering.

 

Yeah, I know it's not a sure thing. My two spayed girls do have an easier time with it but I've honestly tried everything under the sun with Jack, including super high calorie food - as in satin balls, performance kibble, toppers, and freaking LARD with vet supervision. End of the day he has an aversion to food (like sincerely - he was force fed to maintain weight for show before we got him because he stayed thin and now he just outright does not like to eat) so getting more food in isn't going to happen. All I've got to try is reducing his caloric needs. I don't know if it'll work or not, but at this stage I'm willing to give it a shot.

 

And at 8 he's gotten most of the benefit he's going to get from his balls, anyway.

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