Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author
of the online dog training course “Brain Training for Dogs.”

If you're thinking about adopting two siblings, this guide will help you. As
cute as they may be, it's good to know what to expect.

If you’re thinking about adopting two siblings, this guide will help you. As
cute as they may be, it’s good to know what to expect.

Ben michel, via Unsplash

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

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

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.

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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 being heart breaking, costly and difficult to cope

Littermate Puppies: Double the Joy, or Double the Trouble?

Littermate Puppies: Double the Joy, or Double the Trouble?

alexadry, all rights reserved

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

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, and 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!

My two littermate puppies

My two littermate puppies

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.

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;…

Good luck!

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.

any advise?

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

I love dogs but for the first time ever I do not own one(not from choice).

I vote up and thanks for sharing.

Take care


Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 16, 2011:

Separating and training them apart is a good start. This article may be

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:

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

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

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

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.

Keep posting

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.