Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author of the online dog training course "Brain Training for Dogs."
Thinking About Raising Sibling Puppies?
Upon visiting a breeder, prospective puppy owners may find it challenging to pick a puppy among the litter. At times, they may be debating on two puppies and may think, "What if I adopt both?"
This choice, however, needs to be thoroughly evaluated as it is not as easy as it may seem. Indeed, responsible rescues and breeders are mostly aware of the difficulties of raising two puppies at a time, and they may categorically refuse to give two away.
However, some breeders that enjoy the profit of selling two at once may not fully inform you of the commitment you're about to make.
It's called "littermate syndrome" or "sibling rivalry." Regardless of how it's called, it's something that denotes trouble. Why is that? Following are some disadvantages to be aware of.
Disadvantages of Raising Littermates
For a good reason reputable breeders will refuse giving away two litter mates to anyone considering it: they are too much work for the average household. Following are several challenges one may encounter:
Struggles With Housetraining
House training one puppy is unnerving enough that two may really make it quite impossible. You may find yourself, cleaning up the mess of one pup while the other is soiling at another location. Because small pups may pee and poop every 20 to 30 minutes when awake and actively playing, you will soon get the idea.
Double the Trouble
Young puppies, just like toddlers, are prone to get into mischief and therefore need very close supervision. You may find yourself removing one pup that is chewing the couch, while the other is right about to take care of your shoe. It is not easy keeping any eye on both at the same time.
The idea of raising two sibling puppies is almost impossible if owners are at work half of the day. They require constant supervision and guidance.
Puppies Bonding a Lot
One of the main issues that owners of sibling puppies must deal with is the disadvantage of the puppies bonding too much. This often creates two dogs that feel better being among each other than with their owner. The owner may therefore be ignored as the pups are in pure bliss playing together and exploring the world.
This creates problems that may interfere with the training and bonding process with the owner. Two pups raised together may not be able to flourish into complete dogs but as two half dogs that sleep, play and eat together for all day.
Risks for Insecurity and Fear
Something else to consider is that sibling pups who bond a lot because they are kept together, fed together, sleep together walk together 24/7 every day, risks hindering the socialization process with humans and other dogs which can lead to nervousness/fear of new people or dogs.
Among the two pups there often seems to be one that is more insecure and who tends to rely too much on the other pup's presence and risks becoming more reactive as he or she matures.
Risks for Conflict
Littermate puppies tend to get in conflict often. If you give attention to one puppy or feed him a treat, the other may arrive and push the other puppy away.
These conflicts may not be readily evident when the pups are young, but may show up once they mature.
Read More From Pethelpful
It seems like several dog owners encounter more problems when the puppies are of the same sex versus having one female and one male. However, it is also true that there are many sibling pups of the same sex living together happily, therefore there may be too many variables to make blank statements.
Need for Alone Time
It is recommended to keep the puppies separated for most of the day, scheduling only a couple of set play-times.
You'll therefore need to separate them. For example, you may need to encourage separate sleeping (initially starting with separate crates kept side-by-side, then gradually increasing distance), separate training, separate socializing, separate walking, so to help develop their individual personalities and prevent raising two "half-dogs' who depend too much on each other and who may also learn to not pay attention to us. It is best to start this early as it may become more difficult later on.
This way, the puppies will bond more with the owner and concentrate their energy in interacting with, playing with and being trained with the owner. If left to cater to each other on their own, the puppies will choose the easy way, which is to focus on carrying on their own lives.
Difficulties for Who Works All Day
Keeping the puppies separated may be quite challenging because it often translates into dividing the chores in two. Owners will find themselves, walking one puppy and then the other, feeding one and then the other, training one and then the other, doubling the time for just about everything.
This can be time-consuming and both mentally and physically draining unless you have a family member who can help you and you have lots of time on hand and work at home.
Double the Heartache
Something that doesn't come to mind at the moment, but will hurt later on, is watching littermates aging together, and potentially losing them at the same time. This can turn out to be heartbreaking, costly and difficult to cope with.
Advantages of Raising Two Puppies Together
There also some advantages that are worthy of mentioning for those who are debating whether they should go the littermate route.
Double the Fun
One major advantage is that litter mate puppies are fun to watch. Two puppies may provide hours of entertainment. Owners often find themselves shutting off their television just to watch them romp around, explore and play.
Draining Off Energy
Puppies are full of energy and many owners of a single puppy struggle when their puppy wants to play. This may at times trigger resentment over getting a puppy and frustration.
With two puppies, the puppies benefit from playing together as they get to get rid of excess energy.
Improved Bite Inhibition
Two puppies also get to polish their ''soft mouths'' skills. In other words, through their play, they learn how to bite softer. However, you will still need to work on your puppy's bite inhibition as your skin is much more delicate than your dogs'.
Proofing Your Training
While you are initially training each pup a lot individually, once they have a solid response to sit, down, come, etc, it is possible to work with them together every now and then to your advantage.
For example, I like to have sibling pups sit before they are fed their meals or sit before I open a door to let them out to potty. I also like to do recalls with them together when needed (once one dog takes off running towards you, the other should automatically run in your direction too eager for the reward).
This type of training teaches the pups to pay attention to you despite the distraction of being together which in my opinion is very valuable.
Double the Pleasure
If your two dogs get along well, and flourish into two wonderful dogs, you will be granted double the pleasure. Many people have complimented us on how well trained our Rottweiler puppies turned out to be.
As a dog trainer, they were my "business cards" helping me show how dedication and patience pays off in the long run when raising and training dogs—and yes, that includes littermate puppies if you're up for the challenge!
Carefully Consider the Pros and Cons
In a nutshell, most owners do not have the time and patience to successfully raise litter mates. This is why often those who give it a try often end up re-homing one puppy.
However, those who are determined enough, have lots of patience, experience, and time to raise each pup individually may be able to raise two well-behaved puppies that will ultimately be able to grow to their full potential—or at least very close to it.
Littermate Syndrome: Should You Get Two Puppies at Once?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 04, 2020:
There is no easy answer for this. There are cases of two females getting along fine for all their lives, some getting into some minor squabble, and cases of females hating each other at some point in their lives to the point of serious injury. There are too many variables to draw a conclusion.
Q on July 04, 2020:
Is it wise to have 2 females from the same litter?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 15, 2020:
With dogs, things are always hit and miss, there is no way to guarantee how things will work out, but there are several things in your favor, like the fact he loves other dogs and the fact your new addition is female. Another advantage is that he has been with you so all this time so you he got to develop his personality and so did she.
Another advantage if she is at the rescue is that you can perhaps offer to foster her for a bit and see how things go.
Even though they were litter mates and one may assume there is some element of familiarity, it would be best to work with them as if they are not and take all the precautions. Here are some tips to help on introducing dogs;
Kel on February 14, 2020:
I have an 8 month old pit/lab mix, we got him when he was 3 months old and he has been the only dog in the house since, but he LOVES other dogs. Recently his sister has been returned to the rescue because the people who adopted her don't have time for her anymore (longer work hours).
I have been thinking about adopting her, thoughts? The two dogs haven't seen each other since they were at least 3 months old but I am worried about them competing and becoming aggressive. I would obviously have them meet first and see how it goes.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 04, 2020:
Dan Cook, Good to hear you are starting individual training and feeding, and that they sleep in different crates. I have had good success with male/female combos as litter mates. Best of luck on the journey!
Dan Cook on January 04, 2020:
We (myself, wife and adult daughter) adopted 9 week old male and female Siberian Husky pups last week. They sleep in separate crates and we have allowed them to have a lot of play time together.. We are now starting individual training and feeding time.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 06, 2019:
Tracerobbo, in general we want to leave out as many toys as possible. Taking each others' toys in general is just what dogs do, whatever you do, one puppy will always want the toy of the other. As long as they aren't getting into serious fights and you don't see excessive bully behaviors, it should be fine. Of course, limit play time to a few times a day as the pups need to learn to play with you as well and bond with you.
I prefer teaching each pup to sleep in his separate crate to foster independence. I use a Snuggle Puppy Behavior Aid for the first few nights.
Puppies play rough, that's a fact. As long as you don't see excessive bullying or true fighting they should be OK.
When taken out to potty, puppies tend to get excited and want to play. They resent the crate therefore once in because all the fun ends and they are now wide awake. Make sure to give them a tasty treat when they go back inside. Usually, they will whine for a few minutes as they're overstimulated, but should then go back to sleep.
I know you posted a while back but somehow your comment was missed. If you are still around, please update on how things went now that your pups are older.
tracerobbo on September 21, 2018:
Hi, I have 2 gorgeous 10 week old boys. I have had dogs before but never 2 siblings. One is house training really well and has few accidents the other will still go anywhere so I am consistent with training and hopefully that will come. i would like advice on a few things if anyone can help please:
Do I allow them to take each other's toys?
Do I allow one go into the others bed/den forcing the other to sleep else where or do I move them into their own (they do both tend to do this).
They are quite rough when playing together too. Some people have advised us to stop them and others to allow them to play on.
I do t want to interfere with nature but don't want to be allowing something I shouldn't be :/
At night they are waking every 2/3 hours for a wee and sometime will soil outside too, is this about rights and for how long as at present we are sleeping downstairs to take them out which is fine just they can see into the living room and not sure if this will make it more difficult when we start going to bed :/
. On waking in the night one wants to play which we do ignore but he then wines in his bed which then starts the other off. They are both in their own crates in the kitchen.
They aren't able to go out yet due to injections but as soon as they are I am going to walk them separate.y and take them to puppy classes separately etc.
They are lovely dogs and I am determined to put in all the effort needed to enable them to develop into hopefully well rounded independent boys so any advise would be greatly appreciated.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 25, 2014:
Miss Mitch, I wrote this hub in 2009 and the puppies in the picture are my beloved dogs who are now turning 7. I was very discouraged initially and trainers and people on forums were telling me to re-home them because the risks of them bonding to each and becoming "half dogs" were very high. I didn't listen to them; rather, I pulled up my sleeves and decided I would do what it takes to train them separately, walk them separately, and allow them alone time with me. I was fortunate enough to not work at that time, so I had all day long to dedicate to them. I had a few tough times a where on walks they would feed off each other's moods, (that's when I started walking them separately), then at the peak of adolescence, my female was becoming dog reactive and my male during a fear period human reactive, but I learned several great techniques and nipped these behaviors in the bud before they had time to establish. Today, I am a dog trainer/behavior consultant blessed with 2 wonderful Rotties that are well-behaved and not only, I even use them as demo-dogs for training and for behavior modification with reactive dogs. One piece of advice, other than the regular train them, walk them, bond with them separately. Make sure you also socialize them separately, they need to learn how to interact with other dogs and people separately. So, to sum it up, it can be done, but of course results vary on a case-by-case scenario and I always thought when there is a will there is a way, especially if time is not a factor and there's oodles of determination. Good luck!
Miss Mitch on August 24, 2014:
I've got 2 almost 10 week old staffy pups. I'm at home most of the time with them and I find training them and feeding them separately is great they both respond much better with me. I do walk them occasionally together and they are fine, even when meeting other dogs. I understand how important it is to separate them and give individual time and training to each. They do sleep on the same bed even though they have their own beds. I'm going to change that though and separate them at night time. They play well together although sometimes they get a bit nippy at each other but I've noticed it's usually when one is tired and the other is pestering to play. All the information I have read is very interesting and makes me think It is possible which it is.... The one HUGE point is that they need separation from each other and individual time with us (their human pals) which to be honest is the hardest part especially the TIME consuming energy it takes to train one pup then to put one away while you train the other! This is something I totally underestimated. Anyone with any other advice or tips or success stories or anything that will help in better understanding of raising 2 sibling pups would be greatly appreciated.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 16, 2011:
Are they male and female? It ultimately can be done, especially with opposite sex dogs but requires loads of work, socialization training, that the average working person many not be able to provide.
suzanne salomone on December 14, 2011:
May need to separate 6year old liter mate's they are Great Danes need some in put on this....
Eiddwen from Wales on September 22, 2011:
The puppies are indeed beautiful and this hub is so very interesting and useful.
I love dogs but for the first time ever I do not own one(not from choice).
I vote up and thanks for sharing.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 16, 2011:
Separating and training them apart is a good start. This article may be helpful:
Rae on August 14, 2011:
My family just got 2 8 week old lab puppies, one male and one female. They seem to be doing well together although they do wrestle a lot. We are trying to separate them as much as possible. We take them out to potty separately, try to feed them separately (the previous owners were feeding all puppies out of the same bowl, so this has been a little difficult), and tonight they are sleeping in separate rooms. We also bought separate crates for them and plan on separating them some during the day. I really want these dogs to be the best dogs they possibly can be. Do you have any advice or tips for us? My dad is retired and so he is home a lot to work with them. I will be home a lot for the next couple of weeks until school starts. Any help is much appreciated.
joda on September 09, 2010:
I am currently raising two yorkies!! I love watching them play and they keep each other company, however the bigger one plays rough and seems a bit jealous at times. I am questioning my sanity at times for getting two but the second one was offered to me for free... How could I say no. I will work hard to ensure they grow into two well behaved yorkies!!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 10, 2010:
Thank you, they are 84 lbs right now and still are my babies!
It is great you have time on your hands and are working on separating them. I also am currently living overseas (Italy) so have an idea on how challenging it may be at times getting support. A great book I can recommend for dealing with two siblings is behaviorist Patricia McConnell's ''Feeling outnumbered?'' It has lots of insight on how to raise and manage multi-dog households.
Another great expert this time on great danes when it comes to nutrition is Linda Arndt. If you have any questions about development or orthopedic issues she has lots of resources.
Here is her website: http://www.greatdanelady.com/index.html
Are they good on leash? A halti or a sensible harness may help you manage them in the future to prevent them from potentially dragging you around! I am sure they are big babies with big hearts~! Feel free to contact as needed, best wishes!
MsBob on May 10, 2010:
They look adorable!
I've been working on the separation of my two, in prep for Sacha's 1st season (my vet has strongly recommended waiting till after her 1st heat before spaying). I've been doing little by little, gradually building up the time they spend apart - any suggestions you have to help would be much appreciated!
On the adolescence phase... well I'm just trying to get through puppy time :-), I'm sure I'll be looking through your hubs for more support as they grow up! I'm lucky enough to be in the position of being able to dedicate most of my time to my two and really want to work at getting it right (not only because they will soon weigh more than me...). I live overseas and don't have the usual support networks I would have at home. Your informative writing is an invaluable source of knowledge. Thanks and keep up the good work!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 09, 2010:
I own two Rotties, (the ones seen in the picture above). They are great dogs over all, they are two years and 6 months now, and their teen age phase is almost over (in Rotties it is up to 3 years). They have bonded a lot, but I am able to separate them for even a week apart with no problems when I have to take my female to training with me. My female bloomed quite well, my male turned out to be a bit weak nerved but I am working on it on a day to day basis.
Lots of work, double the trouble, but also double the satisfaction in many cases. Something not for the faint of heart for sure or those who do not have the time to commit to raising them into separate and confident entities. With lots of effort,it can be done though...Tough times though may await when they hit the adolescence phase...
Ms Bob on May 09, 2010:
Thank you for the informative hub!
I have two 8 month old great dane pups from the same litter. There were times in the early days that I really questioned our sanity and reasoning behind getting 2 at the same time. However, 5 months down the line and I wouldn't change it for the world. Yes, they have a strong bond with each other, but their bond with us is even stronger. I feel happy knowing they have each other. Their play-mates who are single pups do not have that constant companionship and bond that they have with each other and I know that they are never lonely. As they are giant breed, their adolescent phase will last until around 2 years, so I've a long way to go before they are fully matured. Believe me, an extended puppy phase, with 2 giant breed pups is not to be underestimated.
Absolutely, it is hard work, but I truly believe that any responsible dog ownership requires love, commitment, patience and a willingness to put in time and effort.
In my view 2 dogs are better than one!
Eternal Evolution from kentucky on August 27, 2009:
as always very informitive hub. and the puppies are beautiful.
Jacob from Delhi, India on August 16, 2009:
Thanks for the information.
The Scarecrow on August 16, 2009:
oh boy, you can see the evil puppy look. no shoe is safe in that house.
bbp-studios from BBP - Studio on August 16, 2009:
These puppies are beautiful.