Do dogs remember their own family members?
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Thread: Do dogs remember their own family members?

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    Senior Member rosemaryninja's Avatar
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    Do dogs remember their own family members?

    Does a mother dog remember her litter? If I have a dog and she gives birth to a litter of puppies, and one puppy remains with his mother for his entire life, will he and his mother remember that they are related? Or, if they are separated - if I were to bring my dog back to her mother at the breeder's (assuming she's still alive) would they recognise each other?

    Besides that, do dogs remember their siblings? If I were to bring my dog to meet one of her littermates, would they know each other? Or if two littermates grew up in the same house from birth, would they know ten years down the road that they were brothers, or would they just see each other as good, lifelong buddies?
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    Super Moderator RonE's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    I think that dogs have a scent memory of every dog they've ever met, but I don't know that they have a special place in that data file to designate relatives.

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    Senior Member Laurelin's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    I do know Beau knows his sister... at least as a fun playmate that he sees a lot. He gets very excited to see her.

    However, they were both with the breeder until they were nearly 11 weeks, plus we know her owner so we see her a lot. Plus, Beau's littermate was his obedience class instructor (how embarrasing for him). So they see each other enough for me to think they recognize each other but I don't know if they realize they're related.

    If we all get together so that it's us and the relatives (aunts, half siblings, moms, great grandmas, cousins, etc) Beau and his full sister will run off and play with each other. He'll choose to hang with her over any of the others.
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    Super Moderator RonE's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    I'm not sure I ever want to be a guest at a Plott hound family reunion.

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    Senior Member DobManiac's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    I would think so. Dusk saw his sister again when he was about 7 or 8 months. It didn't take long for them to want to get excited about each other. But they were both puppies at the time so who knows for sure.

    However, he definitely remembered the breeders. As soon as he saw them he jumped up on them. Which is a big deal for Dusk. Dusk is not allowed to jump up, so he risked a not so happy Momma to great his former parents. Also it takes him a little while to get really excited around new people. He usually just sits to be petted, he doesn't get that rambunctious. Dusk is pretty laid back.

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    Senior Member tirluc's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    i feel that dogs do know a bond of sort to their relatives.....and i think it goes beyond littermates and parents....my Tipper met his full sister but from a different litter (she was born the following yr) and the reaction between the 2 of them was very different than the reaction they have w/ meeting dogs not related.....Tipper and Lacey are 1/2 bro/sis, 2 yrs apart and the interaction between the two, also, is very different......

    do they know "hey, this is my Mom/Dad/Sis/Bro/etc".....hard to say since know one has ever gotten to be a dog b/4 (at least not and remembered it ).....but i do think there is a scent/feel they have there......
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    Senior Member starry15's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    Im sure they remember, how could anything not know its own babies? Lol
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    Senior Member rosemaryninja's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    Quote Originally Posted by starry15 View Post
    Im sure they remember, how could anything not know its own babies? Lol
    I don't know. When pups get around 4 or 5 weeks old, the mother dog begins to deny them nursing. She will walk away when the pups try to nurse, and some dogs will even use aggression to keep their pups away. It's an instinctive thing that signals the end of the care-seeking and dependent stage of the pups' lives, and marks the start of the stage in which they must maintain themselves and become independent. Is it possible that after this stage she stops seeing them as her offspring and now simply "members of the same family/pack"?

    Personally, I have two dogs, one of which is mother to the other. (Long story; basically, the breeder we got the mother from requested to take her back at the age of 2 to breed her.) Occasionally, Honey still noses Spunky's underbelly. It almost seems as if she is trying to nurse although obviously this is not the case. Now and then, Spunky will also clean up Honey's face and ears just like she used to when Honey was a pup. However, I've been told that Spunky no longer plays the role of the mother; just an older and more dominant friend.
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    Senior Member lovemygreys's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    We have two sets of littermates, adopted at different times and they definitely remembered each other and have a special bond (compared to the rest of the pack). However, each set of littermates had the same racing owner (which means they were most likely raised together and trained together) and each set raced at the same track, same racing kennel. Their separation was only the amount of time between when the first retired from racing and the second (several months).

    With Echo and Rocky (sister/brother), one of their other littermates is at playgroup and their littermate is the only dog they have ever not gotten along with. When Rocky and Redman first met you could almost see light bulb go off after the butt sniff.

    Now, do dogs recognize family like humans? I doubt it. I think, most likely, they see their littermate/offspring as a dog they've known for as long as they can remember. And any friendship can deepen/strengthen over time.

    Our podengos are mother/son and, while they love each other a lot, I don't see Evita mothering Marco at all. They're more like pals. But at their reunion you could definitely tell they remembered each other.
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    Super Moderator RonE's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    When I was a kid, and we had Charlie the beagle, we had an opportunity to go rabbit hunting with Charlie's mother and a couple of his siblings.

    The other dogs were bred and raised for field trials. They lived to hunt and they were good at it. Charlie was a family pet and would go off on any old scent - even if it was days old.

    If the other dogs recognized Charlie at all, I believe they considered him the slightly retarded relative that nobody talks about.

    It was great fun anyway. There's nothing like spending a weekend in the woods with a pack of hounds. (I don't recall shooting any rabbits - which is perfectly fine with me.)

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    Senior Member Ella'sMom's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    Hehe Ron that was funny - "retarded relative nobody talks about."

    Sorry but I am dying laughing here.

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    Senior Member Laurelin's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    Quote Originally Posted by RonE View Post
    I'm not sure I ever want to be a guest at a Plott hound family reunion.
    Papillon family reunions are just a blast, lol. Family reunions with 16 or so related dogs are always interesting. Beau has this thing for old ladies that I don't understand. He's always chasing his great grandma around.

    Now, Beau and Rose are also siblings but not littermates. When they met they hit it off right away, but Beau just seems to like ladies. He's loved all his sisters he's met. (He has no brothers O.o)
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    I have wondered this also. I adopted a 2 year old dog who was losing his home. He still resided with his "parent" dogs. Anyway about two months later I found out the father was going to be homeless. I took him in. I wonder if the father and son recognized each other. They originally lived together for 2 years but were seperated for about 2 months. Anyway they get along great.

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    Senior Member Jaylie's Avatar
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    Re: Do dogs remember their own family members?

    Blitz definately remembers his siblings...And once he lunged at a female yellow lab at a guide dog event, (PLAYFULLY lunging, not aggressively) and as I started talking to the raiser, she told me she was a breeder, and after some more talking, we realized that she was Blitz's mom! So, ya, I think Blitz definately remembered.

    As others have said though, I doubt they know that they're related.
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