In today’s video, we are talking about adopting littermate puppies. The result is often referred to as littermate syndrome. We’re going to break that down and discuss what it is and how you can make the best decision if littermates will be right for you and your family or not.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
First, understand that littermate syndrome is something that has not been studied, instead is something that veterinarians and dog trainers have been advising against for some time based on anecdotal evidence. As a trainer, I can see why, though I don’t think it’s a black-and-white issue. Some people will do just fine raising littermate puppies and others will not. Here is why.
What can often happen when you adopt two littermate puppies is that the dogs will bond with each other and not bond at all or as well with you or any humans in the household. Bonding is very important and while we do want dogs in the same household to bond, we do not want to exclude the humans in the home.
When dogs in the home do not bond with the humans, it can lead to training issues, and trust issues, and the two dogs will rely a lot on each other to the point of separation anxiety if they ever become separated. In the case of littermates, you will see that one dog will be more confident while the other will rely almost exclusively on the more confident dog.
In addition to the psychological issues between two littermate dogs, you also have to remember that you are on puppy duty times 2! That means that you are potty training 2 puppies, who may be on different schedules biologically. Plus you are trying to acclimate two puppies into your home at the same time, so basic cues and manners are being taught to each individual. This can double the amount of time you are spending focusing solely on the puppies.
Add in the possibility that these two puppies are only bonding with each other and not with you, and potty training, along with anything else, will be that much more difficult.
It’s not all doom and gloom! There are positive ways that you can successfully integrate two littermate puppies into your home. It will just take patience, positivity, and dedication on your part.
I’m Going There
Don’t hate on me for this, but I stand by it either way. I see raising two littermate puppies much in the same way you would raise twin human babies. Hear me out.
Yes, I completely understand that dogs and humans are two very different species, however, when we consider all of the research that has been done on raising twin babies, I find significant similarities. I never did much research on twin babies because, why would I, but then my stepdaughter found out she was having twins in her second pregnancy. Twins are fascinating in that they have a bond that no one around them understands. There are instances of twins creating their own languages and even some rare cases of twins never speaking a word to anyone other than each other their entire lives. Elvis Presley was a twin, did you know that? Some say he was deeply depressed, as his twin died when they were young, and that is what ultimately lead him to an early grave himself.
I digress. Twins are fascinating and the one thing that stands out above all else when raising twins is to raise them as individuals. THIS is also the key to raising littermate puppies.
The Most Important Part
So, when raising littermate puppies, while they will be living together and certainly sharing quite a bit of time together, we need to be very intentional about raising them as individuals.
This means that they will each
– have their own separate crates/sleep spaces
– eat their meals independently of one another
– have separate training sessions, in addition to combining training
– have separate play sessions, in addition to combining play
– have separate walks, in addition to combined walks
Does this mean you will be spending more time with them? Yes. Does it also mean that you will be raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted, and independent dogs? Also, yes.
Our goal is to build their confidence individually, which should be a key factor in training sessions, and let them enjoy each other as siblings without becoming each other’s crutch.
Moral of the story
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to adopting littermate puppies. As long as you put in the effort to raise individual puppies, you should have no problem. That said, if you don’t feel that you and your family have the extra time and patience to provide for littermate puppies, then there is no shame in accepting that one puppy is the best fit for you at this time.
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I hope this video is helpful. Have you adopted littermates? Or have you chosen to not adopt littermates because you’ve heard bad things? I’d love to hear about it!