If you're around dogs in your daily life, an understanding of their rate of maturation is important. A merry and sprightly puppy doesn't usually behave exactly like a newly mature young adult pooch, after all. As with people, gender differences in maturity rates also sometimes come into play.
Ages of Maturity
Both male and female canines usually attain reproductive maturity when they're between 6 and 9 months in age, although extremely big dogs are typically later bloomers than the littler guys. As far as maturity with regard to their peers and their surrounding social structure, the age range for dogs is somewhere between 1 and 3 years old.
Females Faster Than Males
Although both genders of canines frequently achieve reproductive capabilities when they're roughly the same age, female dogs, in many instances, mature a little more rapidly than the boys do.
Maturity in Female Dogs
If a female dog isn't yet fixed, the signs of sexual maturity are usually hard to miss. Unspayed canines experience their initial heat cycles, which are characterized by many visible behavioral shifts -- think frequent urination, lack of focus, increased feelings of anxiety, irritability, swollen outside genitals and pale yellow or slightly bloody genital discharge. "In season" canines also frequently make it obvious to males that they're ready to breed by placing their bodies into mating positions -- with raised and stiff back legs. If you notice any of these signs in a dog, it's a pretty safe bet that she's now sexually mature.
Maturity in Male Dogs
Male dogs often exhibit clear signs of sexual maturity once they reach it as well. Some of these signs include wandering away from home looking for "in season" female dogs, unusually fierce and truculent behavior, marking with urine and humping. Speak with your veterinarian about determining the safest and most sensible time for fixing your male or female dog. Many dogs receive the surgeries when they're around 6 months in age and often prior to that -- frequently before they even become reproductively mature.
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Social Behavior of Dogs
- Progressive Animal Wellness: Decision to Have Your Dog Neutered or Spayed
- The Humane Society of the United States: Escaping
- DogChannel.com: Spay and Neuter Facts
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation: Leashed Tracking Dog License Guide
- ASPCA: Estrus or Heat
- ASPCA: How Will Neutering Change My Dog?
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images