Why you shouldn’t choose littermates 

Having littermates seems ideal at the start, littermates play with each other and understand each other. When you visit the puppies and see two bundles of love playing with other or snuggling up next to each other, it seems cruel to tear them apart.

Then the breeder tells you that the other one doesn’t have a home yet, before you know it you have two puppies in your home.

While having littermates can often cause no problems at all, all dog owners need to be aware of littermate syndrome and how it can lead to behavioural problems.

When you go to buy a puppy it is easy to feel bad about splitting up siblings.

Signs and symptoms of littermate syndrome

Some of the common signs of littermate syndrome include;

  • Fear of other dogs
  • Fear of strangers and other humans
  • Fear of unfamiliar settings, environments and actions
  • Harder to train.
  • High level of anxiety when separated even if only for a very short amount of time.

Aggression between siblings can occur as the puppies get older. Especially if you have two of the same gender. Getting a sister and brother may be better, but then you need to think about birth control. It would be unwise to allow these dogs to breed. Modern thinking is it’s better to leave male dogs intact as the loss of terstorone can affect behaviour in an adverse way. Females should be spayed after a season or two. Factor in the danger zone and be ready to send your girlie to her aunt’s when she is in heat!

Littermate syndrome can lead to hyper-attachment which means it is practically impossible for littermates to socialise with humans and other dogs, especially since they don’t have to opportunity to show their individual personality traits.

How to adopt littermates (It can work)

But if you must do end up with littermates then encourage independence from an early age, the three top tips for littermates include;

#1. Make sure each dog has their own space space. Start with the crates close to each other but gradually increase the distance so the puppies can no longer see each other so that they get used to being alone.

It may be wise to have the crates near humans, such as in bedrooms, to get puppies used to their human family members.

#2. Train puppies separately. If you train littermates together, they will distract each other and make training even harder. Take the pups on individual walks, play games with them that encourage independence from each other and from you. Games like Cardboard Chaos which is a treasure hunt for food amongst your recycling. Scatter feeding in the garden is another good one. Which is just throwing food on the grass for them to hunt for it.

Ultimately, professionals will advise against littermates but if you do choose to adopt littermates, make sure that you have enough time to train the dogs individually and that you keep an eye out for littermate problems and know how to handle the situation should any issues arise.