Is Rudolph a Girl?

Are Santa's Reindeer Female?

By The Old Farmer's Almanac
Reindeer Antlers

Christmas falls in late December and—as we all know—everyone’s favorite red-nosed reindeer leads Santa’s sleigh, as the story goes. In the wild, of course, the only reindeer left with antlers at Christmas are the females. 

Are Santa’s Reindeer Female?

Reindeer and caribou are the only deer where both males and females have antlers.  For all other members of the deer family, Cervidae, only the males have antlers.

(Reindeer are the domesticated cousins of wild caribou—and are usually about 8 to 10 inches shorter.)

While male reindeer shed their antlers at the beginning of winter (late November to mid-December), the females retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring. 

Photo: Reindeer named “Misfit” with the Reindeer Farm in Indianapolis, Indiana.

This is because the mating season occurs in the fall. Once the male reindeer have used their antlers to impress their mates, they no longer have use of them, and they shed them before Christmastime.

Because all of Santa’s reindeer have antlers, they all have to be girls, including Rudolph … er, Rudolphine?  Yep, it’s the females who were able to find their way to your house.

All joking aside, we thought this was a fun bit of trivia.

Are you excited for Christmas this year? See our everything-Christmas page


The 2006 Old Farmer's Almanac

Reader Comments

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Magic Reindeer

It was always my understanding that Santa only employes magical reindeer, who also has other special attributes: flying, landing on rooftops, remembering which chimney was last and which was the next one, moving at ultra high speeds... So, males also were able to keep their antlers permanently. So there!

Good one!

Thanks for keeping Rudolph & Co as we know and love him!


This assumes that "artist's conception" illustrations we've seen are an accurate representation of the genuine article. So far as I am aware, there is as yet no clear photographic evidence available for examination.


Then if Rudolph is female what about Clarice??