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Your Perfect Partner? Choosing between a Male or Female IGP Dog

Like many people with a passion, seasoned dog-handlers may hold strong opinions. A quick look at the participating teams in the 2022 FCI World Championship shows that there tends to be a preference for partnerships with male dogs. Of the 86 dog-handler teams that had a passing score in all three disciplines, 41 male and 19 female handlers had chosen to partner with a male dog. Interestingly, of these 86 teams, only 12 formed an all-female partnership.

Male Handler

Female Handler


Male Dogs




Female Dogs








Traditional perceptions have favored the strength and dominance of male dogs. The percentage of female dogs participating in the FCI World Championship over the last decade has not surpassed a meagre average of 25%. This is still more than some 25 years ago when typically, only some 12% of participating dogs was female.

Recent results have challenged these notions. In the 2022 FCI World Championships, the Ukrainian competitor Vika Bezus with her Malinois female Camino took first place. According to the FCI-IGP website, the obedience routine performed by this all-female dog-handler team was simply incredible and almost unreal. They received standing ovations from the audience and the judge awarded them a well-deserved 97 points. Should aspiring handlers reconsider preconceived notions about gender when choosing a puppy destined for the top?

Before bringing a dog into the IGP journey, thorough research and collaboration with a reputable breeder who specializes in producing dogs with the right temperament and drives for the sport are crucial.

Enrolling in a club and seeking guidance from experienced trainers can also help to make an informed decision and provide the necessary support throughout a dog’s training journey. For novice IGP handlers, the decision between a male or female dog should ultimately be a personal one, grounded in preferences, abilities, and lifestyle. It is important to remember that each dog is as unique as their handler, but some general traits can be attributed to more male or female dog behaviors.

Male IGP dogs are often characterized by a larger and stronger build in combination with dominant traits. They tend to possess a higher drive, a more powerful presence and handling requires added physical strength.Yet, males also tend to be easily distracted and extra playful compared to female dogs. Therefore, training males may require a firmer hand and stricter discipline. As dominant dogs may periodically challenge their owner’s authority, these dogs are better matched with experienced handlers who can confidently assert their authority. Inexperienced and/or uncertain handlers may face significant challenges once their male dog reaches maturity. In the world of pet-dogs, vets often recommend neutering to temper male behavior. However, this is rarely an option for male IGP dogs as it can negatively impact their character and performance.

Female IGP dogs are perceived to be gentler, more affectionate, and cooperative. They are generally quicker to train, mature faster than their male counterparts, but may be less forgiving of handler mistakes. Females tend to be fiercely protective of their owners and families, especially children. It is worth noting that increased dominance and territorial behavior can be observed during heat cycles a few times a year. To prevent any interference with male competitors, female dogs in heat are scheduled last on the field in competitions.

Despite the fact that FCI World Championships are dominated by handlers who have chosen to compete with a male dog, the 2022 FCI World Champion is an all-female partnership. Ultimately, the decision between a male or female puppy should be guided by individual preferences, lifestyle considerations, and the temperament of the dog. Remember, it’s not just about the dog’s gender; it’s about the partnership and dedication you bring to the sport that will ultimately lead to success.


K9Force (2023, October). Your Perfect Partner? Choosing between a Male or Female IGP Dog.

© K9Force WDC 2023. For permission to reproduce any article in this blog, contact

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