What Is Littermate Syndrome And How Can A Dog Owner Avoid Re-homing?

Littermate syndrome is a very serious problem that can arise when you raise two young puppies together, whether they are from the same litter or different ones. Most of the time, it is heavily advised that families should refrain from bringing in two puppies at the same time, because littermate syndrome is so severe. But if you’re dead set on bringing both Whitney and Kristi into your home at the same time, there is a way to prevent it from developing. It will just require (literally) twice the amount of work, time and effort, and is not something that most people are willing or able to do.

Littermate Syndrome 101

First, it’s important to understand exactly what littermate syndrome is and what it entails. What happens when you bring two puppies in and raise them together is that they learn to depend on each other too heavily. While this may seem like something that’s not so serious (after all, you want them to bond as siblings, right?), it can create huge problems for both Whitney and Kristi when they don’t know how to function separately from each other. What will usually happen is that one dog will assume the dominant role while the other will become much shyer. If Whitney is in charge, it doesn’t allow Kristi to ever reach her true potential, because she will always be timid, looking to Whitney for guidance. For her part, Whitney’s dominance is largely based on Kristi’s obedience. A bully is nothing without his backup, and Whitney will become weak without Kristi. Neither dog will develop her own independence.

Additionally, they’ll be so dependent on each other that they won’t bond as well with you or other members of your family. It will always be them against you, because they will develop into a unit that cannot be separated. If they are physically separated by you for any reason, even for short periods of time, they will become irritated, upset or even aggressive. Their overdependence on each other may even result in them fighting each other.

It becomes a confusing world when you don’t know who you are, independent of someone else, and just as with humans, it will wreak havoc on Whitney and Kristi’s personalities and prevent them from reaching full maturity. In some cases, physical growth has also been stunted by littermate syndrome. Littermate syndrome was observed to be so severe in the training of service dogs that organizations will no longer allow volunteers to raise two at once: it results in neither dog being mentally suitable for the job.

If you have two puppies from the same litter or of the same age, most dog experts and veterinarians would advise you to re-home one of the dogs. But is there any other option? There must be something you can do to avoid re-homing, right?

There is indeed a way to stop littermate syndrome, and it is this: you’ll need to feed, bathe, walk, play with, train and crate each puppy separately during the first full year. This is a huge endeavor, but it is the only way to prevent the problems that would occur otherwise. Whitney will need her own separate feeding time, walks and playtimes, and Kristi’s must be completely independent of hers. They should only be allowed to interact for very short periods with supervision. Raising a puppy is a big responsibility, and this is doubling the work you’ll need to do, but if you don’t want to re-home either Whitney or Kristi, it’s your only choice.

Once Whitney and Kristi are over a year old, well adapted to the family and well trained, they can be allowed to interact freely with each other and become friends. At this point, they’ll have reached maturity and developed the independence to exist as their own dog and not part of a totally codependent duo.


Post a Comment