Adopting Littermates, Yay or Nay?

Three and a half years ago we adopted our little boys, Santana and Pantera, who are littermates.  They have been together their whole lives.  At the time we adopted them, we were told they were about 18 months old, which would make them 5 now.  Our vet thinks they are considerably older though, and she ages them around 7 right now. No one ever said anything to us about adopting littermates being a bad idea, and they weren’t really puppies at the time.

Our last litter of foster puppies was adopted out two weeks ago, and two of them went to the same home, young newlyweds who are experienced dog owners.  She used to work at a dog groomer, but is now a stay at home dog mom. A third puppy went to his mother.

Since then everyone I’ve talked to has told me what a bad idea that is.  I had never heard about it being a bad idea before.  I’ve always thought is was great that they got to stay together.  So I’ve been researching the subject.

Our experience with adopting littermates

We had no real problems with our little boys, it may be because they were older when we adopted them, or we may just be the exception to the rule.  It was actually a big help to us.  Pantera is our nervous, ADD boy.  He has approximately a 3-second attention span.  This is very evident when you call him to the house after outside playtime.  He gets distracted running up the back hill, about 50ft, at least once every time.   Santana, on the other hand, was so easy to train, very focused, and incredibly smart, sometimes too much so.  So I trained Santana, then had Pantera watch him.  It worked well for us.  So well in fact, that I started using them to train any foster dogs that they got along with.

Adopting littermates, the possible problems:

So the experts say that adopting littermates is a bad idea.  And that most “good breeders” won’t allow two of their puppies to go to the same home.  I’ve also heard that a lot of animals shelters and rescues also won’t allow two puppies from the same litter to go to the same homes either.  I’ve also seen many puppies be adopted out together, and end up happy.

The experts’ reasons against adopting littermates:

Bonding:

They bond more strongly with each other than with their new humans, because they’ve been together all of their lives.  This wasn’t a problem with our little boys, although they have a strong bond, and Pantera is definitely more confident when Santana is around, they are bonded strongly with us.  They aren’t quite “velcro” dogs, but close.  They like to be with their people.  And they’re actually very protective of us.

Housebreaking:

Potty training two puppies at once is a lot more work, they won’t be on the same schedule.  As someone who has worked on housebreaking three litter of puppies this year alone, I have to disagree.  But then I’m told I’m a bit anal about my dog’s schedules.  All of my dogs have a potty break, on schedule, every four hours, whenever possible.  With the litters of puppies, the schedule was a little more flexible and was every 2 hours.  Or whenever they were just waking up from a nap, or about 45 minutes after they ate.  My biggest problem with housebreaking the whole litters was that I could only handle two at a time and the ones that had to wait for their turns sometimes had accidents in the playpen before I got them outside too.

Attention and Socialization:

Puppies need individual socialization and attention.  This I agree with wholeheartedly.  Each puppy/dog needs to spend alone time with their humans, no matter their age.  I do one on one time with every dog in our household as often as possible.  They all get to go on outings whenever possible too.  Sometimes in pairs, sometimes alone.

Aggression:

One of the reasons experts recommend against adopting littermates together is that they can sometimes fight.  Usually when they’re in the adolescent stage.  And it happens more often with puppies of the same sex.  We never had this problem with our boys, but they were past that age when we got them.  They have never once gotten into a fight with each other.  Santana does, however, have an issue with Pomeranians, and has to be kept away from Woobie, and any foster Poms we have.

Training:

Yes, training two dogs at one time is harder, unless you have a pair like our boys where one is unfocused.  Training them separately is best.  It also gives them one on one time with their humans.

Expenses.

Yes, adopting littermates is more expensive.  You need two of everything.  And sometimes two puppies can be a lot more destructive than one, so the expenses can add up quickly.

Adopting Littermates, Yay or Nay?

The experts warn against it.  A lot of breeders I’ve talked to won’t allow it.  A lot of shelter administrators allow it only in certain circumstances, such as previous adopters who are very experienced dog owners.

Me, I think it’s fine.  I think it’s great when littermates get to stay together.  I might feel differently if my little brothers had been difficult to raise, but they weren’t.  Having them together was actually easier for us, because of Pantera’s unfocused attention span.  He really is a much more confident dog when his brother is around.  He’s definitely a follower, not a leader.  But they do spend time apart each day.  Santana spends half of his day with his adopted little sister, Monkey.  Pantera spends that time either at my feet, or on my lap.

Have you raised littermates?  What are your experiences?

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