Two things before we dive into a fun animal-related discussion:
2. Lunch was simply leftovers from last night’s meatloaf dinner plus an apple. It was highly unattractive, so I’ll spare you the pictures and instead throw puppy pictures your way.
Assuming Animal Genders
On my brisk walk with Sadie this morning, I stopped to chat with a nice man in our neighborhood.
He was all about Sadie, saying the following:
- “He sure has a lot of energy!”
- “What breed is he?”
- “He’s a handsome guy, isn’t he?”
Now allow me to show you some gender clues…
Sadie was wearing a pink harness.
I was walking her with a pink leash…
…with a pink poop bag purse attached to it.
She was wearing a pink heart argyle sweater to fend off the cold. (Vizslas don’t have an undercoat and get cold very easily.)
And yet she was automatically a he to this man.
People often assume Sadie is a boy, which really doesn’t bother me at all. Honestly, I get it.
(Anyone remember the ladybug from A Bug’s Life that was a male? Hilarious.)
Sadie is a vizsla which, in my opinion, is a rather masculine-looking breed. Vizslas are lean, muscular hunting dogs and people often think Sadie is some kind of a hound or a Rhodesian Ridgeback.
I’ve talked to some of my friends who have dogs that are commonly incorrectly referred as a “he” or a “she” by strangers and we have three theories about the assumption of animal genders:
- They’re based on someone’s previous experience with a certain animal. (Example: An owner of a female dog automatically refers to all other dogs as “she.”)
- They’re based solely on gender stereotypes of dogs. (Example: Fluffy, little dogs are female and large, beefy dogs are male. Believe it or not, there are male Malteses and female Rottweilers out there!)
- They’re based on famous movie or television animals that share the breed. (Example: All St. Bernards are automatically male because of Beethoven or all King Charles Cavalier Spaniels are female because of Charlotte’s dog Elizabeth Taylor from Sex and the City.)
I also know this gender assumption happens to parents who have had their baby incorrectly referred to as a “he” or a “she.” It always makes me so curious about what causes people to assume a baby or an animal is a certain gender without knowing for certain.
Questions of the Afternoon
- Do you typically refer to certain animals as a “he” or a “she?”
- What do you think influences whether you call an animal a “he” or a “she” without knowing their gender for certain?