Glass ceiling for dogs? Males win Westminster almost twice as often
Stephanie Kelly, FEBRUARY 9, 2018
NEW YORK (Reuters) – … Female dogs, known in pure-bred circles as “bitches,” have snared Best in Show at Westminster 39 times since the award was first given in 1907. Males, known simply as “dogs,” have been victorious 71 times, almost twice as often.
I would turn this around and say: That’s not really a huge difference.
To come up with a human analog for Best in Show, I might look at the annual polls of movie theater owners of top movie star box office draws. Males seem to be somewhat more over-represented among top movie stars (e.g., 9 of the top 10 all time for most years in the top 10, or in the last three years the polls were done, 2011-2013, 24 of the top 30) than male dogs among Best in Shows.
Most of the performance differences between the sexes among dogs are related directly to mating/pregnancy/nursing:
A dog’s peak age for competition is 3 to 5 years old, which also happens to be prime breeding age for females, said Kimberly Calvacca, a professional handler and breeder from Westbury, New York. …
“People don’t like to campaign females because they don’t like to jeopardize their breeding program,” said Calvacca. “Males can be used to stud anytime, and still show and breed at the same time.”
As a consequence, females are less likely to compete at Westminster, the second-oldest U.S. sporting event after the Kentucky Derby. Ahead of this year’s opening day on Monday, there were 1,220 female competitors and 1,699 male challengers enrolled in most categories, including vying to be named top dog on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
A female competitor’s “heat” cycle brings changes in temperament and hormones that can also hurt its chances of winning the world-renowned show for pure-bred canines.
Many handlers and owners will not show a female during its cycle, which comes about every six months, because “they’re moody,” said Wendy Kellerman, a handler and breeder from Hauppauge, New York.
Depending on the breed, a female dog in season will shed her coat, leaving her less impressive looking than male peers. Those kinds of changes can knock her out of competition for months. …
In the end, a male Best in Show winner can bring a bigger payoff than a female because a male can breed many times, and even have its sperm frozen, while females can produce only so many litters and puppies, said WKC’s Bisher.
“The males obviously have an easier go of it, whereas the girls having a litter is stressful for everybody,” she said.
I don’t know that much about dogs, but sex differences among dogs seem less significant than among humans.