Can Puppies Have More Than One Father?

Updated on March 19, 2018
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Adrienne is a former veterinary hospital assistant, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

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Can puppies have more than 1 dad?
Can puppies have more than 1 dad? | Source

Can Puppies Really Have More Than One Dad?

If you're wondering if your litter of puppies can have more than one dad, it's probably because something seems a bit fishy. You may have a litter of white puppies, and then there's an odd-looking black puppy that has you questioning if Sophie was messing around with the other dogs in your neighborhood. Can female dogs really have puppies from more than one male? The answer to this comes from a look into the social lives of dogs and a quick look into some reproductive science.

For starters, dogs are not the best representation of fidelity. Yes, they can be loyal, devoted animals towards their masters, but with their mates, it's a whole different story. This is a far cry from their ancestor, the gray wolf. Wolves have a history of being monogamous, dogs are not monogamous. Indeed, they're a far cry from being monogamous. The way they care for their offspring has also dramatically changed. I blame domestication.

In the wild, father wolves mate with their soul mate once a year and then take care of their offspring. They hunt, share their food with their pups and guard the den. The father has an important role and fulfills it wonderfully. Papa wolves also help educate the pups and teach them proper social skills and how to respect the adults. Dogs, totally different story.....

Sophie, the French Poodle instead can mate twice a year and can have multiple partners. This means, when in heat, she can mate with Oliver the English bulldog from across the street, Romeo the purebred Rottweiler and even Scruffy, the mutt who hangs out in your yard. Once pregnant, the father dog can care less about the puppies, he no longer has a function, probably because humans have taken over the task of providing food and protecting the pups. Sophie, unlike wolves, also no longer regurgitates food for her pups, possibly because humans now take care of that as well, by feeding the puppies homemade mush.

So, if Sophie mated with Oliver and Romeo, can the puppies have more than one dad? This sounds like a good case for a Jerry Springer show, but spared from the gift of voice, no lie detector test may ever reveal the truth. Don't worry, you won't no longer need to scratch your head and search for a lie detecting test to have Sophie confess, today genetics can provide you the most appropriate answer.

Now This Is an Exemplary Dad!


Multi-Sired Litters: Fact or Fiction?

So, we know that Sophie's code of conduct wasn't the best. She was unable to choose between several handsome dudes, so she decided to have multiple partners. So what happens next is that she'll actually give life to a multi-sired litter. What does this mean? It means that yes, the litter of puppies will have more than one father.

Female dogs produce multiple ova that can be fertile for several days. To up the chances of getting pregnant, consider also that male dogs are capable of producing sperm that can stay alive and well for up to eight days. If Sophie mates with multiple dogs, then yes, she can easily get pregnant and the litter of puppies can have different fathers. But to each their own. This means that a puppy cannot have two fathers, but each puppy can have a different father. In other words, if Sophie mated with say, Theo the poodle, and then she secretly had an affair with Scruffy the mutt, she may have 3 purebred poodles and then the remaining 4 may be mutts.

If your litter of pups looks quite different, but you are absolutely certain Sophie mated with just one dog, don't be too fast to think she's been messing around partying. For instance, if Sophie the poodle was mated with Rover the golden retriever, and then 63 days later her puppies look different from one another, keep in mind the litter may just be simply blessed with great genetic variation. Geneticists call this heterozygosis. In other words, some golden doodle puppies may look more like momma and some will look more like papa, and others may look like both, but there's nothing wrong with that!

So yes, a litter of puppies can have more than one dad, but puppies cannot have two dads. If you're looking for an absolute answer though, skip the lie detecting test to have Sophie confess, and read on for some more reliable testing.

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Who's Your Daddy? Seeking the Truth in Multi-Sired Litters

So, yes, you're really stuck in a fishy affair since that black puppy in a whole litter of white pups has you wondering. However, you don't need to have a mishap happen to have a multi-sired litter. Some breeders actually purposely breed a female dog to two different studs. These multi-sired litters are also recognized and registered with the American Kennel Club under "Multi-sired litter registration" as long as the dogs are registrable purebred breeds .

If you suspect a mishap, you may be curious to know who is the "other daddy". If you purposely mated your gal with two studs, then you may want to find the biological father of each pup so you can provide details to the potential buyers. Luckily, today you can solve all doubts and concerns by investing in a DNA Testing Kit just for dogs.

These kits are pretty easy to use. They come with buccal swabs that simply need to collect some cells in the dog's cheek. The samples are then mailed out, a lab analyzes them and then you are mailed your results at home. Easy as pie if you're seeking the truth or you're in need paternity proof.


Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Adrienne Janet Farricelli


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      • alexadry profile image

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

        Thanks for stopping by, I'm happy you found the article interesting!

      • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

        Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

        Absolutely fascinating. I had no idea there could be more than one father for a litter. Wow. Up, interesting, and awesome. Great job.

      • alexadry profile image

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

        Woah, that would have me scratching my head too! Sounds like La-chon has some explaining to do! Thanks for stopping by!

      • tlpoague profile image

        Tammy 5 years ago from USA

        Great topic! Now I know why my wonderful La-Chon sported three beautiful babies that didn't look a bit alike. One looked like a mini Saint Bernard, one a mini Black Lab with a white strip, and one looked like a long haired mini Dalmatian. I am still scratching my head wondering who the father/fathers are. I have heard of cats being able to do this, I don't know why I didn't think about the dogs ability too. Thanks for sharing!

      • alexadry profile image

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

        Well, knowing how some birds are not monogamous in the real sense of the word, it's a good response I heard that 90% of birds are monogamous, but it 30 percent or more of the baby birds seem to be sired by someone other than who was thought to be the father. Thanks for stopping by, Larry, your posts are always fun!

      • Larry Fields profile image

        Larry Fields 5 years ago from Northern California

        Hi alexadry,

        Your hub reminded me of an experience from a hike many years ago. One of the women remarked that she saw a pair of birds feeding their chicks. The female was not distinctive in appearance, and the hiker wasn't sure about the species until she saw the brilliant plumage of the male.

        My stooopid response: How do you know that he was the real father?

        Voted up and interesting.

      • alexadry profile image

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

        They have been around the market for some time, but I think they're not advertised enough. I think they're fun but at the same time educational.

      • Relationshipc profile image

        Kari 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

        What?! I didn't know this, and I thought I knew a lot about dogs! I think I need to start studying up a bit more. That is crazy, and kind of cool. I didn't think about DNA tests either, but that would make sense. Very cool hub.