What is littermate syndrome?
Littermate syndrome refers to behavior problems that can arise from sibling pups being raised together. Possible issues include aggression, separation anxiety, and neophobia. Littermate syndrome is a condition that affects dogs between 8-10 weeks old. This occurs when puppies are adopted into their forever homes.
Dachshunds and Terriers, Border Collies, Shepherds, and Shepherds are often mentioned as having a high tendency for littermate syndrome. However, there is no clear scientific evidence to support this claim. Like our brains, dog psychology and brain chemistry are complex. Every dog is unique with their own experiences, quirks and how they view the world. While breed can impact how a dog handles the world around them, it shouldn’t be considered a factor when deciding whether to adopt siblings from a particular breed.
Although littermate syndrome is not common in all dog siblings, it can be a problem for potential pet owners. It is best to not adopt two dogs from the same litter. Each dog and each pair of dogs are unique.
Dog adoption of any kind is a very big and complicated undertaking that is better handled on a situation-by-situation basis. You should take as much time, thought, preparation and care as possible to adopt any dog. Adopting dogs from the same litter or having already adopted them is a good idea. You should be ready to spend extra time training your dogs, so they live the best life possible. Sometimes, sibling dogs might have developed a bond that makes it more practical to raise them together. We will discuss this further.
Three early signs of littermate syndrome
When you bring two puppies home, dogs will continue to bond with one another more than they do with any other person. They can be neophobic and fearful of new things because they only feel comfortable around one another. Littermate syndrome can lead to dogs becoming anxious around unfamiliar people, situations, and things.
Separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is another indicator to look out for, especially if the dogs are separated for a short time. Separation anxiety can cause dogs to whine, cry and howl. This happens because the dogs become so attached that they can’t stand being alone. Dogs who are so attached to their sibling dogs can experience emotional turmoil and undue stress. A related tragic outcome is that sibling dogs can’t cope when one dies, and the other dog will live out their lives in pain.
You are training your dog. Littermate syndrome can also be manifested by difficulty in basic obedience training. It is difficult to potty train one dog. It is difficult to train two dogs at once, but it is much easier to train two dogs focused on their sibling. Dogs will become irritable and resistant to training if they are not taught.
Aggression. Aggressive behavior can also be a sign. Aggressive behavior can also be a sign that a dog’s siblings are playing rough with each other. This can lead to serious injuries. If the owner cannot resolve the aggression between their dogs, the owner will often have to surrender one of the dogs. This is not only difficult for the dogs but also the owner’s mental health.
Be aware of littermate syndrome.
Many dog owners have never heard of littermate syndrome, as we said before. Although I’m not a spring chicken and have been a dog owner my whole life, littermate syndrome was something I didn’t know about until last year. While volunteering at a rescue for pets, I happened upon a random conversation.
Many shelters won’t allow more than one puppy to be adopted simultaneously, even though they are from different litters. Some breeders feel the same. Some dog-related professionals and breeders don’t believe littermate syndrome to be real. Some people object to the way the term is written, particularly the word “syndrome”. They fear that sibling owners will rush to rehoming solutions. The syndrome is a frightening term. You must understand the meaning of littermate syndrome and how to combat it.
What can science tell us?
However, there hasn’t been a single research study to prove that littermate syndrome is a medical diagnosis. It is, however a common term that refers to many behaviors observed by pet scientists over many years. This is not a conspiracy theory about puppies. It’s a common phenomenon that professionals have observed and treated. To make the best decision, consider all sides.
Dog behaviorists are constantly studying dog psychology to determine how the dog evolved from their wolf ancestors. Understanding how humans made ancient wolves dogs over a long time is key to understanding their relationships with us.
It is important to learn how and why we train our dogs. This is especially important when you are considering adopting two puppies out of the same litter. A happy dog is a well-trained, confident dog. Littermate syndrome can make training more difficult. This causes less happiness in the dogs.
This article is about littermate syndrome. We will be focusing on the negatives of sibling adoption. Some dog owners have raised multiple siblings with no problems. It’s possible. We even used Reddit to find out about life anecdotes. No Gains, a user who goes by the name No Gains, is the parent to Urs and Fenrir, two-year-old Malamute littermates. No Gains stated that they had no issues with rougher play. Redditors have reported numerous problems with sibling dogs.
browse the entire Reddit thread
Separation anxiety or general fearfulness can have a severe impact on your dog’s mental well-being.
The risks of adopting sibling puppies
You should be aware of the potential risks involved in adopting canine siblings. This is the best way to prepare for the challenges your dogs will face. Here are some things that can happen to siblings.
- Hyper-attachment. They are like glue. You can’t separate them.
- Inter-dog aggression. They can get rough with each other, and playtime can become a dangerous game. Sometimes they’re not even playing but fighting.
- Depression due to mourning. The other person will not be able to cope if the first member of the couple dies.
- Jealousy. The dog can become aggressive if one of the senses that the other is getting more attention.
- Fearfulness, also known as. Neophobia. Dogs have learned to be only comfortable with their sibling, so any other dog becomes dangerous in their minds.
- Separation anxiety. Extreme anxiety can result from being away from your dog. Stress can also lead to aggression and property destruction. Learn more about anxiety in dogs.
Here’s what to do if you’ve already adopted a pair of littermates
What to do if your littermates have already been adopted?
This article is intended to raise awareness about littermate syndrome and assist dog owners with two dogs from the same litter. In some cases, it may be possible to have two dogs from one litter. We know that you care about your pets and are here to help!
Training is the first thing you should do. It’s best to train each dog separately if you have two dogs. Each dog will be able to cope on its own without the help of its sibling. This makes training much easier. Try teaching two puppies to sit simultaneously. We’ll just have to wait.
We have some guides to help you get started.
For more information on housetraining, Here’s what you need to know: Our step-by-step guide is here.
It is vital to train a dog or dogs in a kennel/crate. We have you covered.
For some pet owners, formal training classes may be necessary. Each dog must be trained individually. The bottom line is that each dog should be prepared to be comfortable being left alone. Start as soon as you can — as early as possible. You can take your dogs on separate walks and have them sleep in individual crates. It is important to remember that dogs are constantly turning. Dogs tend to perceive hierarchies in the brains. If you take one dog out first, the other dog may believe that the first dog is being taken care of preferentially. This could lead to behavioral problems. You could end up with bad intentions. It is important to be aware of your dogs’ reactions.
Regarding meal times, experts suggest individual food bowls. You can have your dogs do their things with other family members if they can help. You are teaching your dogs how to be happy without their sibling, with whom they share a deep and natural bond. Confidence is something that can be taught, and it is essential to happy pups.
What is the charm of the third dog?
Dog owners often note that having an older dog can help to limit the possibility of littermate syndrome among their two puppies. Pre-existing dogs are thought to prevent the puppies from bonding with one another. Although there is no evidence to support this theory, it is a common anecdote.
When to consider rehoming one of your puppies
Safety is the most common reason people adopt a dog. Sibling dogs can fight or play too hard and cause serious injury or even death. If your dog is aggressive or has problems with social development, it may be necessary to give it a new home.
Two dogs can form a pack. A pack mentality can cause aggression against other dogs and people. Aggression should not be taken lightly. A dog that is aggressive towards another dog will not be happy — dogs have the right to be satisfied.