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Do Dogs Miss Their Siblings? (Answered)

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

family of orange and white Cocker Spaniel dogs

Puppies are usually separated from their siblings at about 8 to 12 weeks old. Before that, they would have spent most of their time interacting with their siblings and learning crucial social skills. When you decide to bring home a dog from a litter, you might feel bad taking them away from their siblings. After all, they often look very happy together and are all familiar.

So, can dogs miss their siblings, and is it justified to take only one dog from a litter? This article has the answers for you.

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Do Dogs Miss Their Siblings When Separated?

Dogs can experience a wide range of emotions that would allow them to miss their siblings, but they probably don’t experience separation the same way as humans. Dogs do not necessarily miss their siblings or long to be with them again as an adult. However, those types of thoughts might cross a puppy’s mind as they once enjoyed their sibling’s company.

Their siblings could be recognizable to them after a brief separation because of their familiar scent. Some dogs might have difficulty recognizing their siblings after being separated for a few years, and act as if they were never siblings.

Most dogs can quickly overcome any sense of loneliness from being separated from their siblings. Most of the anxious behavior from puppies in a new home away from their siblings is likely them adjusting to their environment. It can take a while for puppies to settle into a new home and socialize with your other pets.

liver and tan cocker spaniel dogs
Photo Credit: Andy Leather, Shutterstock

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Can You Keep Two Dogs from the Same Litter Together?

If you have ever felt compelled to take two dogs from the same litter to keep each other company, you might want to rethink that choice. Many canine experts are against keeping two dogs from the same litter together as it could cause issues. Dogs from the same litter do not always get along, despite the familiarity.

It is best to separate your dog from their siblings at the appropriate age and get them a non-blooded related friend later on. Keeping two dogs together from the same litter should not be done to avoid a phenomenon called “littermate syndrome”.

Littermate Syndrome

Littermate syndrome or dependency refers to the potentially serious and unwanted behaviors commonly seen in dogs raised from the same litter. It can affect any dog breed and sometimes even dogs unrelated ones too.

Littermate syndrome is not necessarily related to the dogs being from the same litter, but rather that they are raised together from the same age. Dogs with littermate syndrome may become aggressive to one another or anxious when they are kept apart. Littermate syndrome can also result in destructive behaviors, whining, and emotional distress.

Dogs with littermate syndrome may struggle to do things without the other dog present and become anxious. This is a form of separation anxiety that can be difficult for the littermates to overcome without professional help.

dog using litter pad or training pad
Photo Credit: Tikhonova Yana, Shutterstock

What Causes Littermate Syndrome?

The cause of littermate syndrome is thought to stem from the dogs similar in age being raised till puberty together. Since you need to care for two puppies rather than focus your attention on one, it could cause rivalry between the siblings.

Many new dog parents are not ready for the responsibility of caring for two puppies at once. Both puppies require equal amounts of time, training, and attention every day. However, sometimes it is not enough to entirely prevent signs of littermate syndrome.

Dogs with littermate syndrome often need professional help from a certified canine behaviorist.

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Do Dogs Get Lonely Without Their Siblings?

Dogs that have been separated from their siblings after 8 weeks do not always feel lonely once they settle into their new home. They might briefly miss how they used to play with their siblings and adjust to their absence, but these feelings usually don’t last long. Most dogs adjust quickly to their new homes and can form close bonds with their owners which is unlike the relationship they had with their siblings.

Pet owner hugging her dog corgi
Photo Credit: Yavdat, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Puppies may initially miss their siblings who brought them comfort and socialization. Once they start adjusting to their home and interacting with you, it’s unlikely that they continue missing their siblings. It is generally recommended to raise one similarly aged dog in a home at a time to prevent littermate syndrome. Although it is compelling to bring home two dog siblings, it is not always worth it.


Featured Image Credit: Artush, Shutterstock

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