Sign up for our newsletter to stay in-the-know. Littermate syndrome can take toll on a family, especially with kids. From the beginning, pups recognize their littermates primarily by scent and that recognition is strongest when they are young, says Dr. Karyn Collier, medical director for wellness medicine at Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey. What’s more, you might think that training two puppies at the same time would be easier than adopting them one by one (and starting house training all over again!). There are a lot of reasons why reputable breeders and reputable rescues will not sell or adopt two puppies to the same household. Signs can include excessive crying, whining, and destructive behavior when siblings are separated. I also know many people have and are raising littermates that are happy, healthy, well-socialized dogs. Cataract: Keeping Puppy Dog Eyes Clear and Bright, How to Help With Separation Anxiety in Dogs, 8 Things We Do That Really Confuse Our Dogs. It may sound ideal when dogs are such … Access our library of professional veterinarian resources. Consider adopting unrelated puppies a few weeks or months apart, suggests Graddy. Period. This can make it harder for them to reach their full potential when it comes to good behavior, says Graddy. Two puppies being raised together were fighting. Puppies with littermate syndrome only interact with each other and become highly dependent on one another for a sense of safety and normalcy. She loves writing about all things related to health, pets, fitness, politics, and activism. It is difficult to train and properly socialize two puppies at the same time. “They were so bonded to each other that I literally could not take one and walk a few feet away to practice loose-leash skills because the other would scream.”, Wilde believes the problems are rooted in hyper-attachment, which leads to hindered social development and communication issues. Breeds and Behavior: How Closely Are They Linked? As we mentioned previously, related pups tend to fight MORE than unrelated ones and these little tussles can get quite heated. If socialization with other dogs is important to you, you may also want to take them out for separate play sessions with other pups. In fact, many veterinarians recommend adopting kittens in pairs. “Everything else is a loss.”. 'Littermate Syndrome' refers to any undesired behavior expressed by a pet (usually a dog) that was raised with another animal from its own litter. Is Littermate Syndrome Real? Of course, many factors influence behavior, and not all siblings raised together will exhibit this problem, which is called “littermate syndrome”; it’s a risk, not a foregone conclusion. She now approaches people out of curiosity. Signs of littermate syndrome in dogs can include excessive crying, whining, and destructive behavior when siblings are separated from one another, as well as a lack of interest in playing or interacting with other people or pets in your household, says Collier. As previously mentioned, littermate syndrome sometimes causes puppies to focus on the other puppy rather than the humans in the home. Although it doesn’t happen between all siblings, over-bonding is a commonplace phenomenon and is termed “Littermate Syndrome.” It’s the reason shelters, responsible breeders, trainers, and others caution against adopting siblings. Use separate crates (slowly spaced farther apart until they’re no longer in sight), feed them in separate rooms, take them outside at different times, and sign them up for separate obedience training classes, says Graddy. Learning basic coping mechanisms and picking up on important human–canine communication signals is difficult or impossible for them. Littermate Syndrome is the name given to the common behavioral problems that arise when two puppies are raised together beyond the typical 10-12 weeks (about 3 months of age) that professional breeders recommend. Bullying and aggression between siblings seems to happen more often than between unrelated dogs, and it can get nasty. It might seem more efficient, or easier to socialize and exercise two pups at once, but it rarely works out that way. If you find you don’t have the time, space, and energy to train and bond with your pups separately, consider reaching out to your veterinarian, a certified dog trainer, or a certified veterinary behaviorist for professional help. Anecdotal evidence suggests that behavioral issues may arise during key development periods because the two puppies’ deep bond impedes their individual ability to absorb and grasp the nuances of human and canine communication. “People assume that having two same-age pups who play together and interact constantly covers their dog-dog socialization needs, but they in fact don’t learn how other [dogs] play and have no idea about social skills with other puppies, adolescents or adult dogs. “The only advantage I can think of is a short-term gain of the puppies being less lonely in the first month of life,” says Dunbar. But if you don’t teach puppies early on how to be alone, and especially with siblings who have always been together, it will be catastrophic when one dies.” Dunbar encourages multiple dog households— “I always like having three dogs”—but the timing, temperament and age that each enters the home is paramount. In turn, they could fail to learn and develop appropriate social interactions with humans, too. “Littermate syndrome in dogs occurs when two puppies from the same litter living together develop such a strong attachment to each other that it interferes with their ability to interact in a normal manner with other people, other dogs, or any situation where they are not together,” says Collier. “This uniformity makes it difficult for the siblings to delineate a hierarchy,” she said. It seems harder to get their attention, harder to teach them emotional control and harder to teach them boundaries" she continues "I have seen some nasty cases of bullying or outright aggression between dogs of the same litter, and it feels as though it is more common than between dogs who come into the family from different litters. Currently, in behavioral science, the advice is not to have two pups period, let alone littermates due to the possibility of “LitterMate Syndrome”. And then they started displaying alarming fearfulness of people and other dogs.” I made an appointment for a home visit so I could meet the family and the puppies. I have successfully raised two sets of littermates and have not witnessed or experienced littermate syndrome. Dunbar, too, is adamant that one of the key lessons a puppy must master is how to be content with being alone, which is all but impossible with two siblings. Many dog behaviorists, trainers, breeders and shelters discourage adopting siblings. In her downtime, she enjoys meditating, weightlifting, and playing soccer. The good news: not all puppy pairs develop littermate syndrome and pet parents can prevent significant issues with specialized training methods. Dogs experiencing littermate syndrome may only want to eat if their sibling is present. This does not mean the usual behavioural issues a puppy will normally have, but a jumble of behaviours including fear, anxiety and aggression. This can affect dogs of any breed and also unrelated puppies who are adopted and raised together. We now separate siblings and inform adopters about the rationale for our policy.”. Even trips to puppy socials and the vet should be separate so they learn to incorporate these episodes into their respective psyches without being overly dependent on their littermate. Although you should maintain separate training, play sessions, and walks with your pups, you’ll also want to make some time for them to play together to help your dogs get along, says Graddy. Littermate Syndrome (sometimes called Sibling Puppy Syndrome) refers to issues that are more likely to arise when puppies from the same litter (or puppies from different litters under 6 months of age) are raised in the same household together. Over lunch, veterinarian and dog behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar and I discussed raising sibling dogs. Aggression between housemates is more common between littermates adopted together than unrelated dogs adopted at different times, says Graddy. Jeff Stallings, CPDT-KA, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., owns Better Nature Dog Training and works with clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. This fearfulness can occur when the puppies are together or separated from each other. Tension develops in training and compliance as they squeeze the owner out of the relationship. While raising sibling puppies successfully can be a tall order, it is possible. “A Dachshund mix named Thelma was returned to the shelter because her sibling repeatedly attacked her; she had multiple injuries by the time the heartbroken family returned her to us. That arise when two puppies at once takes much, much more work than,... Little tussles can get quite heated 8-10 weeks of age, which can strengthen or weaken over time,,... 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