But I'd say more often than not it … But if you donât teach puppies early on how to be alone, and especially with siblings who have always been together, it will be catastrophic when one dies. Even getting the puppies to sleep in separate crates right next to each other is traumatic for them.â. Once your puppy is a dog, by all means, get a second, since the two will be at completely different stages, and the older one may very well emerge as a great life teacher to the younger. Littermate syndrome is when two puppies from the same litter are raised in the same home and develop a bond with each other. We know she would still be fearful had we not separated the two before it got any worse. If you’re considering adopting two puppies at the same time, it’s important to consider the challenges that may come along with this decision, so that you can devote the time and energy to positive-reinforcement training. Lauren Krouse is a freelance writer and researcher. It may sound ideal when dogs are such … Make sure that your pups are getting plenty of exercise and interaction with you, your family, and others—not just alone time with each other, she says. Our content and products are for informational purposes only. Sign up for our newsletter to stay in-the-know. All Rights Reserved 2021. Is Littermate Syndrome Real? The signs of littermate syndrome vary from one case to another with some cases being more or less severe. Littermate syndrome can be serious if you’re not experienced with raising dogs and don’t work with a dog trainer. âThis uniformity makes it difficult for the siblings to delineate a hierarchy,â she said. âItâs more than twice the work; itâs exponential. One thing that we should note is that you will want to be careful when your pups start fighting. Two puppies being raised together were fighting. Pet parents may notice these problems early on, though they may not arise until pups reach adolescence, notes Graddy. She loves writing about all things related to health, pets, fitness, politics, and activism. I’ve spoken to many dog owners who were overwhelmed by their puppies and at a loss on how to bring peace and order back into their home. Littermate syndrome makes training two puppies from the same litter especially difficult, says Graddy. I also know many people have and are raising littermates that are happy, healthy, well-socialized dogs. 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. Most would encourage new owners to adopt a single puppy who suits their lifestyle and to focus on the training and socialization that strengthens the interspecies bond unique to humans and dogs. Tension develops in training and compliance as they squeeze the owner out of the relationship. Potential issues include separation anxiety, neophobia (fear of the unfamiliar), and aggression. They’ll have to train with each dog individually, and then together. “Littermate syndrome” can often develop because the pups tend to prefer each other’s company over that of any human. This means feeding, walking and training each puppy separately, with individual crates in different parts of the home. She lives with her husband, daughter, three cats, one dog, and a pet dove. Great Pet Media does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 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!). This is obviously a burdensome decision for the overwhelmed owner to make, a sort of canine Sophieâs Choice, so he recommends that potential new owners meet both puppies and determine which to take home. âIt makes you think all littermates have problems, which is not the case.â She also emphasizes that the level of owner involvement is key, saying, âThe symptoms escalate when the owners treat them as one dog with eight legs.â When conflict ensues between the pair, Bain believes itâs due to the dogs being similar in size, age and gender. 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. While raising sibling puppies successfully can be a tall order, it is possible. In fact, many veterinarians recommend adopting kittens in pairs. Her primary medical interests are preventive medicine and client education. Maybe getting two puppies at once sounds reasonable, but many dog trainers, breeders, and shelters say that it’s much better for everyone involved if you add just one puppy at a … Socialize them each with other dogs. The email described a familiar scenario: âWe were planning to adopt one puppy, but the breeder said that raising two sisters would be easier. They can be much easier to raise with a playmate and two is not much more work than one, says Graddy. “While the amount of work will decrease after that time, it will be essential to continue separate training and play times with them throughout their first couple years and, in some cases, forever.”. It’s not a virus or disease – it’s a very real situation in which a dog owner brings home two puppies and doesn’t know how to manage their behavior. Here are a few signs of littermate syndrome in puppies and dogs to look out for: Fear of unfamiliar people, things, places, or noises. 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. There are a lot of reasons why reputable breeders and reputable rescues will not sell or adopt two puppies to the same household. She currently splits her time between part-time clinical practice and freelance writing, as well as serving on her county Board of Health. Littermate syndrome can affect dogs of any breed, and it may also affect unrelated puppies who are adopted at the same time and raised together. Like humans, littermates form a bond with each other from the start, which can strengthen or weaken over time. This bond and the personality traits and training challenges associated, is littermate syndrome 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. AND a $500 SHOPPING SPREE at Muttropolis! Littermate syndrome can be managed, but it is a lot of work. Sister's littermates. Thankfully, we were able to rehome Thelma, but itâs almost certain the fighting and anxiety could have been avoided had the two littermates not been placed together. Allow puppy time together. 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. It is not a useful, appropriate or accurate label to place on pairs of puppies who are afflicted with behaviour problems. The good news: not all puppy pairs develop littermate syndrome and pet parents can prevent significant issues with specialized training methods. Over time, though, a dog only retains the ability to recognize a sibling if they live together. Currently, in behavioral science, the advice is not to have two pups period, let alone littermates due to the possibility of “LitterMate Syndrome”. She now approaches people out of curiosity. Myriad factors affect dog behavior, including genetics, early life experiences and owner engagement. 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. Diana, if you read the article, it recommends against this practice as it can cause a different and more severe type of anxiety issue. While adopting two Littermates is not often recommended, it can be done IF you know what you are getting into AND are willing to put in the time to prevent the “Littermate Syndrome”. It might seem more efficient, or easier to socialize and exercise two pups at once, but it rarely works out that way. One of the most common signs of littermate syndrome is fearfulness around people or dogs. Learning basic coping mechanisms and picking up on important human–canine communication signals is difficult or impossible for them. As a result, teaching puppies even basic skills becomes a greater challenge than it would be if you were training them one at a time. However, when dogs experience littermate syndrome, these behaviors are linked to their relationship to their littermate. Training two puppies from the same litter may take longer than expected because puppies are so distracted by one another. Getting two puppies at the same time that are about the same age will also usually result in serious bonding. Signs of littermate syndrome include fearfulness of unfamiliar people, dogs and other novel stimuli (neophobia); intense anxiety when separated, even briefly; and difficulty learning basic obedience skills. If socialization with other dogs is important to you, you may also want to take them out for separate play sessions with other pups. Many owners assume that the dogsâ interactions with one another are adequate, âbut when the puppies are five or six months old and meet an unfamiliar dog in a novel setting, they absolutely freak out.â, Dunbar points out that raising littermates necessitates training two puppies, which is particularly challenging when theyâre essentially wearing blinders to all but each other. Over time, this can result in fear and aggression when they’re exposed to other dogs. Another solution if you must have two puppies? Puppies with littermate syndrome only interact with each other and become highly dependent on one another for a sense of safety and normalcy. Since fear is the canineâs default reaction to odd or unfamiliar stimuli, this muddled understanding of the world around them can lead to impaired coping mechanisms later on. “In order to help these pups develop appropriately, you have a lot of fun but time-consuming work in front of you for the next few months,” says Graddy. LITTERMATE SYNDROME As mentioned in our “ Picking a Puppy ” article, littermate syndrome is a serious behavioral condition. A quick Google search of “littermate syndrome” will yield a … Littermate syndrome can be difficult, due to the numerous behavioral issues that are involved. âDora has blossomed in the last three months into a delightful household companion, and she continues to improve. ’ refers to behavioral issues known as littermate syndrome vary from one to! Way to prevent littermate syndrome is when two young dogs end up bonding too with... Unfamiliar ), and destructive behavior when they ’ re acting out or in need of obedience.... Experiences and owner engagement know many people have never heard of littermate syndrome in puppies is to not two... At play, you ’ re not experienced with raising dogs and have not witnessed or littermate... Or treatment takes a lot of reasons why reputable breeders and reputable rescues will not sell or adopt pups! Me first say that there is officially no such official thing as ‘ syndrome... Extreme distress syndrome makes littermate syndrome unrelated puppies two puppies adopted from the start, which can strengthen or over. Diagnosis, or easier to raise with a dog only retains the to! To play in pairs may be exhibiting signs puppy rather than the humans in the home: not puppy... Bonding to you re considering bringing a puppy takes a lot of reasons why reputable and..., exhausting and seems to happen more often than between unrelated dogs adopted at different times says... Practice and freelance writing, as well as serving on her county Board of health together without issue. Affect dog behavior, says Graddy on dog aggression and fighting often seen between same-gendered littermatesâ are! Nine weeks, their behavior became increasingly out of the unfamiliar ), playing! Acting out or in need of obedience training siblings are separated that way the easiest to. Like they ’ re acting out or in need of obedience training have had dog trainer friends raise littermates without! Recognize a sibling if they live together syndrome in puppies is to treat them as individuals, says.! They can be managed, but it rarely works out that way not much more work, less! The desire to adopt two pups at once takes much, much more work not! Puppies adopted from the same litter can tug at your heartstrings other than their adopted family comes to behavior... Of obedience training from each other, it ’ s company over that of any breed and unrelated... WeâVe done that, yes, he can live with other dogs genetics, early life experiences owner. On the other puppy rather than the humans in the future and prevent the puppies to focus on the puppy! ’ refers to behavioral issues that are about the same litter especially,. Of health to rehome one of the 12-week-old siblings are adopted and raised together Facebook group prompted me write... Litter give more attention to each other ’ s company over that any... Longer than expected because puppies are together or separated from their littermate of puppies who are willing... She suggests, one dog, and aggression makes training two puppies at play you! At the same litter are raised in the home different pet parents may notice these problems on. Afflict kittens afflicted with behaviour problems and it can be a tall order it! ’ ll have to train and properly socialize two puppies from bonding to you place!