The 3 Main Reasons I Don’t Recommend Littermates

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The 3 Main Reasons I Don’t Recommend Littermates

yellow lab littermates

I have been a professional dog trainer for over 20 years and there are a few things that I unequivocally do not recommend.

One is getting a puppy when you are pregnant.  At some point I would like to do a study on this phenomenon and why it occurs so frequently.

The truth is in 8 or 7 months you will be too busy to adequately care for your puppy.

The other is adopting or getting littermates.

Please Don’t Go on the Attack

Please don’t hurt me 😉  I am aware that some people have wonderful experiences with both cases.

However I tend to see the bad and the aftermath of what can later be considered a bad decision.

First Off

First of all I am not a hypocrite.  I would do neither, even with my 20+ years of experience.

So I want to share with you the 3 main reason (yes there are more but these cover the big reasons) why I would not get nor recommend littermate puppies.

#3 – It is Twice the Expense

I know that sounds obvious.

Of course it is twice the expense… DUH

But have you really sat down and calculated out how much puppy exams, vaccines, and spay and neuter cost.

The AKC estimates the costs of the first year for

  • A small dog $2,674
  • A medium dog $2,889
  • A large dog $ 3,239
  • A giant dog $ 3,536

And the cost of a dog over it’s lifetime averages $23,410

And interestingly enough that does not include dog training.

To read the article yourself click here http://www.akc.org/learn/akc-training/cost-to-raise-dog/

Now double those costs or in my opinion multiply by at least 2 and ½ .

Why 2 and ½ ?

Because littermates get into significantly more trouble than one puppy, therefore are more likely to incur more vet bills and more expenses when it comes to shredding items and soiling the house.  More on that, later in the article.

But, if you just look at the numbers alone you can probably muster the expense of one puppy but the significance of twice the cost is impressive when it comes to dogs.  $7,000 to $50,000 is a lot of money.

And, remember if you have littermates, spay and neuter is not even something you can put off until you can afford it.

#2 – It Is More Than Twice the Work

Most people who embark on two littermates think it will be easier.

The puppies will teach each other.

The puppies will entertain themselves.

The truth is they will likely teach each other naughty things and entertain each other in less than appropriate ways.

It seems dogs, especially young puppies, never teach each other the good and appropriate things we want them to learn.

One puppy rarely sees another laying down and then chooses the same good behavior.

Most often one puppy starts digging or chewing on something and the other puppy follows in stride almost feeding the negative behavior.

Digging is fun for a dog that is solo, digging in tandem and kicking up dirt together is even more fun and desirable.

As you can imagine the hole would be substantially bigger with two active diggers feeding off of each other.

Having two puppies is twice the puppy training, it is twice the potty training, and it is twice the monitoring.

I, personally, think it is challenging enough to keep an ever watchful eye on one puppy and as you can imagine it is even more problematic to make sure you are watching two.

Everything will be more difficult with two mouths, two rumps and eight furry paws to watch.

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#1 – They Bond to Each OtherFury pup (5)

This doesn’t sound like a horrible thing, right?

I mean, a lot of people get two dogs as I mentioned because they think it will be easier and the dogs will entertain themselves.

Even I like my dogs having each other to play with and to bond with when I am no around.

But make no mistake

But make no mistake, I want my dogs to bond first and foremost to ME.

I have learned that to get the most obedient dog, the most well behaved dog, and the happiest dog that the dog must think that I control all good things.

I control his food, I control his toys,  I control his fun and we play together.

For step-by-step videos on how to train this type of control CLICK-HERE.

This allows me to easily shape his behavior and teach him that with good behavior comes fun games and rewards.

Just like it is nearly impossible to convince your dog that spending time with you is more fun than running off leash, or playing at the dog park (unless you have taught him how fun you are first), it is also often nearly impossible to compete with his littermate when it comes to listening and entertainment.

Quality of Life

And, I think it is sad when two littermates literally cannot function alone without the other.

Not all dogs have the same life expectancy.  Even littermates don’t live the exact same amount of time.  I want my dogs to be able to function without each other both for training purposes and their own sanity.

Eventually your littermates will have to be separate for grooming, vet visits, training or simply mortality.

If you do get two littermates, please do them a favor and allow them to be separate and individual.

Trust me, you will thank me some day.

If You Want 2 Puppies

SONY DSC

An Older Dog Helps Teach a Puppy

If you want two puppies, I suggest you consider getting them a few months apart.

Those months allow you to potty train and ingrain dog training, fun and games into the first puppy before getting the second.

It allows both puppies to bond with you while also enjoying each other.

I adopted a second puppy when my first puppy was 9 months old.

She, the first puppy, was already mostly trained and had forged a great bond with me when the new puppy came into our life.

When I would ask them to stop (playing, chewing, etc.) she already had a basis of knowledge and understanding and could therefore help him understand my cues and rules.

I didn’t have to watch them both constantly.  She already knew to stay with me and therefore it allowed me to focus on the new puppy.

I am all about having multiple dogs (provided you actually have time for them both) but I have learned through experience how to set my dogs and my household up for success.

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There are 20 Comments

  1. Judy says:

    This article was right on target…..anyone who wants more than one dog really of any age needs to know it is a lot of work, and expense…and spending time with each one on one is not always easy….getting them at seperated times and ages is the better way to go…..I enjoyed your article, as usual…thank you for all the advise…

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  2. Jessica says:

    These all make sense and are great recommendations. I know from experience these things are all very true. Thanks for writing the article. Lots of friends and family come to me for help with their dogs and hearing from a professional that many of the same things I have thought and recommended also ring true is helpful.

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  3. Mrs. K. L. Davis says:

    I think that’s good advice. I had a lovely jack Russell bitch for nearly 14 years. When I had had her for a few months a friend who had her sister asked me to take her as she had attacked her tiny dog. I tried for a weekend, but she fought with mine. After that I sent back the second one as she was spoiling my dogs nature. Bonnie remained gentle and calm all her life, but I think she would have changed if I had kept her sister.

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  4. Pap says:

    Bonding between littermates is real. I brought home two field bred springer spaniels for the first 3 months we would not let them see each other. Add that to the other training you are trying to accomplish and you can see the degree of difficulty.

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  5. William (Bill) Kreeger says:

    I have two littermates, GS. They are now 18 months old. We placed them w/Applejack Kennels in Maryland. Their primary trainer told the same thing you have said Littermates – not a good idea). To late, already have them! The training was intense and regulated. They kept the pups for the first two weeks and then we had to also go though training on how to train them. I forgot to mention that we also have a Female Pit, 8 years old. She had to be watched very carefully at first to make sure she wouldn’t hurt the pups.

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  6. Maureen says:

    Good article and I couldn’t agree with you more. We usually are a two dog family but our dogs have usually been a year or two apart. I have found that the older dog who is already housebroken is a big help training the younger dog. We had adopted a dog from the shelter who had been adopted and brought back. She was only seven months old. The fella that brought her back said she was using the house as a toilet.
    We crate trained her but I really think our older dog trained her. We have had her for 3 years now and in that time she had two accidents when we first got her.
    Both of them were my fault as I wasn’t picking up on what she was asking.
    She has turned out to be a great dog.

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  7. Linda says:

    Good advice but would it be a no no to adopt another adult dog so my dog is not home alone in the day? You are talking about puppies.

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    Minette Reply:

    probably a wee bit easier, but still it is difficult to train 2 dogs at once.

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  8. Yvonne Cassidy says:

    I so agree about getting a puppy with months between them it is common sense if you just think about it also I think.a puppy should have all your love and.training just.for him or.her

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  9. Christine Lowe says:

    I work for a rescue and take dogs for adoption events. Thank you for giving info on litter mates. I learned this lesson early on from the director of the rescue.

    It’s very frustrating trying to educate the public on this issue. Many just refuse to believe we work from experience and are not out to keep them from getting what they want. Potential adopters tell us of all the litter mates that they know or have heard about that are successful. I wish they would see the dog people give up at 6 months to 1 year old that wind up in rescue or the pound. It’s truly heartbreaking.

    Thanks for continuing to educate the public on such important issues.

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  10. Gail says:

    I agree with you as well; so many times it is a recipe for disaster. Even if everything goes well, which is unusual, who wants to potty train two at the same time?

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  11. Nancy says:

    I prefer a couple years difference! Older dog well trained and still young enough to put up with new puppy shenanigans. And sadly I had litter mate cats…they died within weeks of each other.

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  12. Barbra Kavanagh-Gough says:

    Such a great article. I totally agree with you. I’ve always had two dogs, but there has always been at least a year between them. The older one usually teaches good behavior. I have time to spend on one pup. The older ones have never shown any jealousy signs… and I’ve had this attitude from dogs over at least 30 years. They do keep each other company, cuddling up to sleep etc. and when walking, the younger one always looks up and takes his lead from the older dog.

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  13. Cindy says:

    Many years ago we had neighbors who bought 2 Dalmatian puppies for their children’s Christmas gifts. All of the surrounding neighbors thought they were nuts. House breaking 2 pups in the middle of a Minnesota winter was a pain in the a**, not to mention all of the other trouble they got into in the house. Before the dogs were 2, they had given 1 away……

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  14. Catherine says:

    We thought of taking two of five litter mates, all identical Chocolate Labs. We picked one, brought him home & immediately fell in love with him. Even then, we thought about going back for another. Now our then 2 1/2 month old 17 1/2 lb puppy is 5 years old & 80 lbs. He is our “therapy” dog. In 2013 we lost our home, 3 vehicles & our possessions in a EF4 tornado that took nearly our entire subdivision. We would have been lost w/o our Jack who was 2 years old at the time. We lived in hotels & an apartment for 7 months while our home was rebuilt. Jack is an “only child” & we are very glad through all that that we had him. I’m glad we didn’t take two puppies, not that we wouldn’the have loved another as well, but with the stress of the situation, we are sure Jack was traumatized as we were, but with “our” being together all that time & now, we realize how lucky we are to have only Jack. In the past I had multiple dogs (5), all were different breeds, different personalities & brought into our home at different times. Loved all of them, but as you say, we bonded with each one prior to bringing the other (s) into our home. Wouldn’t change it for the world & wouldn’t change getting Jack alone for the world….. long message but from the heart

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  15. Rusty says:

    I’m a stay at home dog mom, a Mother of Goldens. Raising littermates can be done and it’s so much fun! We kept 4 puppies when our Golden had a litter of ten. It’s a lot of work but our house is filled with so much love! I have been using your trainng techniques with success.

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  16. Barb De Longchamp says:

    Yes your ideas of a few months apart is perfect. I had already gotten a Maltese puppy when I realized how much fun she would have with a friend. When she was a year old we got another from the same breeder. It’s been perfect!

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  17. Johnette Hassell says:

    I lost two, greatly loved, dogs just five weeks apart. Much heartache. I went to rescue sites seeking two, bonded dogs (plus other conditions). I ended up with two dolls who had been running loose in California. They are not litter mates, but are deeply, deeply bonded. We’ve experienced all the issues described here. They had no apparent training, not even potty training. I tell people that usually training two at a time (like having twins) is not twice as much work, but four times as much. But, when they are already deeply bonded, and accustomed to having their own way, they are eight times as much work!

    They are great, fun dogs, not food or toy reactive, loving, bonded to us. But, it has taken 10 months to potty train them. I would never adopt this way again. If they were trained already, it would be different. If you are considering littermates, pay attention to this article.

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  18. Sharon Sturm says:

    For the most part I would agree if a person is not truly dedicated to helping your pups succeed as a pair. I had two Danes. We bred our girl after she completed her Conformation Championship. We intended to keep only one to begin her show career. We ended by keeping two. We separated them at eight weeks for sleep time and food time. I also worked hard every single day at alone time and training time with each of them. Each of them are very bonded with me but to each other as well. But I come first. Then on my mama girls next breeding we kept another girl for our show and breeding program. She is a yr younger than the other girls. Each is very well leash and obedience trained and one is finished in the show ring and the other two are close. All five of our kids rock and we have a very solid well adjusted pack. Can’t imagine it any different but I know the average person may not be able to do it.

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  19. Elizabeth says:

    We have two male maltipoo puppies that were litter mates. They were born 6/29/16. We were not aware that it was not a good idea to have two new puppies at the same time. We are experiencing frustration with housebreaking the puppies. We are using their crates and taking them out to a designated spot every two-three hours during the day. We allow them to play in our kitchen with supervision, but they occasionally have an accident. They have a great time playing together but sit is the only command we have managed to train them to follow. We are currently working on stay for more than a moment. They enjoy long walks, but are pulling on the leash all the way. I verbally correct them but that does not seem to have an impact. We really love our dogs, but need to figure out how to take care of these issues.
    We are not sure how to go forward.

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