Littermates

Twice this week I have had littermates in the shop. One set of fairly young, still impressionable pups, and another pair that are several years old and set into the littermate syndrome. I know one parent was listening as I explained this while the other one not so much.  I am not crazy.  It is a real thing. Please read this article if you have or are considering adopting littermates from a breeder or rescue.  It is NOT a good idea.

 

Adopting and Raising Littermates – Not a Good Idea!

By Karen's Dog Training Blog (Open Post)  Updated July 6, 2013 at 8:26 am  

Two sibling puppies are up for adoption and they are pretty darn cute together.  You hate to tear them away from each other so you think “Why not adopt both puppies? They can keep each other company!”  “One puppy for each child in the family.”   The shelter, breeder or rescue group adoption coordinator says it is a great idea!  STOP and listen.   A dog trainer, behaviorist or veterinarian who is knowledgeable about puppy development and dog behavior will tell you NOT to do it.  Shelters and rescue groups are well intentioned.  However, staff and volunteers may not have a background in dog psychology, behavior and development.  They may not know that adopting littermates to the same family is a bad idea.  Experts will tell you it is NEVER in the best interests of the puppies to be adopted together.  Listen to the experts. I often see Petfinder ads for littermates saying that the puppies don’t need to be separated.  The puppies do need to be separated.

Your desire to adopt two siblings is understandable – they get along, they play, sleep and eat together, and it seems so sad to separate them.  They can keep each other company.  From a dog behavior perspective, adopting them both can be harmful to both pups and not end well in the future.

The Littermate Syndrome” is a real problem that can be mild or severe.  Mild cases are barely noticeable. You might see some mild squabbling or minor anxiety when one dog is removed from the other. Severe cases can lead to constant fighting between them to the extent that they are causing physical damage to each other.  I’m talking about bite wounds that require veterinary attention. In the middle of trying to separate them, owners are often badly bitten.  The fights can seem to come out of nowhere.  The fights are actually the result of two pups who need to be living separate lives who are being forced to share the same home.

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