Re: Male or Female
We got a male...we originally wanted a female because they are "supposed" to be easier to train. When talking with our breeder, she said males are more affectionate and females are, well, bitches. They have more of a "when I want to" kind of attitude and are actually a bit more headstrong. But like everyone else here says, V's are just affectionate dogs! And our male has been the easiest dog I've ever trained!!!
And, as the old saying goes, it wouldn't be hunting season without your bitch in heat. Murphy's Law I think they just go hand in hand! We did decide to get our male neutered (only because we found out I'm pregnant) and just wanted one last thing to deal with since he was starting to become more interested in the ladies. Otherwise, he was a very submissive guy to other males before then, and I was just concerned because the other male dogs (even neutered) always seemed to single him out to put on the ground. I would have hated for anything to escalate. But, with you being in the country, you might not have as many encounters. And, it is always possible for males to roam. The labs my dad had when I was young were intact and would be gone for days (but my dad didn't do the best job at training/keeping them around!).
I think no matter what you chose, you will have a very loyal companion. Good luck and have fun!