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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am on an emotional roller coaster and am desperate to hear other experiences of people who kept 2 littermates AND people who raised litters and kept one.

I am a wildlife ethologist who has studied wild canids and trained plenty of dogs but these pups are putting all I know to the test (and yes I know dogs are not wolves in doggie clothing. )

The background: I and my husband found ourselves raising a litter of 7. Very long story short we have both parents, mutts rescued from Mexico. The mom is shepherd and some sight hound, dad is greyhound plus mystery dog...maybe lab, shepherd, maybe both. Pups are on track to be 55-60 lbs., bigger than their parents 45-50 lbs.

It is taking longer to find their forever homes so we still have four 13 week old pups. At just 8 weeks old they started fighting. We have lots of space and they get lots of exercise and stimuli inside and out, that wasn’t the problem. The fights were infrequent but serious, some hierarchy stuff going on where they bite each other HARD and not let go, even when one let go and was submissive. We broke up each fight did not let them play out, they were too extreme. Amazingly they never broke each other’s skin. Yet. Incidentally both parents are sweet and not “dominant” or “aggressive”, though the mom is not keen on other people or dogs, she is velcro to me.

The smartest, sweetest, most beautiful, biddable male Sam fights the most. 😢 I adore him so much but he is being fostered. My fear, my question: is this just sibling rivalry, or will it continue with other dogs of similar age/ size, or beyond? One adopted pup was aggressive with a strange puppy but when taken to a dog beach and overwhelmed by many dogs managed ok. I don’t really like that strategy, too risky.

Meanwhile I only want to keep one, but how to decide? The easy going male, or the smart female who is pretty easy going who I have bonded with 100%...though she did pick a fight with her smaller more obnoxious-play sibling, it took a hose on high to separate them. And to complicate things my husband is determined to keep the 2 that get along very well, no fights. But I do all the training, exercising, and we have 3 other dogs already (the parents and an old blind Aussie mix) and I am already exhausted raising 7 - I take at least 2-4 hiking every day (not all at once).I can exercise and train the litter mates separately, but they will be together a lot, playing, it is inevitable.

I am very concerned what all these doggy relationships will be as they all age. Right now all the pups are good with parents, who are teaching them to play but not to be obnoxious.

Will the pups stay great together if we keep 2? Will this biting thing get worse even if socialized?? we live in a rural place, I have to work it to get them exposed to other people and dog savvy dogs. What if they decide to compete with mom or dad as they get bigger? I have been trying to predict the future to make the best decision on who stays and who goes. It is making me insane. I love them all dearly, but I want to make the right decision for all involved.

thanks in advance for your experiences, I really value hearing others stories who have raised litters, past age 12 weeks - did they fight? And anyone not experience littermate syndrome?

Below is a pic of mom and one 13 week old brindle girl, they are getting BIG.
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And little white Samadhi. Five white pups out of 7 from two black parents!

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If you keep two, they will most likely start fighting more as they get older. Littermate Syndrome is a super common thing that has more failing cases than successful ones. I recommend rehoming all of the puppies as it sounds like you already might have your hands full. If you do find that you know 100% that you can handle another dog, then you should keep the one you said you've completely bonded with.

If your husband still insists on keeping the two that don't fight, he really needs to start helping you train and take care of them if he doesn't already. I also highly recommend the two of you extensively research Littermate Syndrome if you haven't already. There's countless information all over the internet on it and on how to minimize fights. Safely keeping littermates can happen it'll just take a lot of precautions, training, supervision, etc.
 

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I had two litter mates brothers, never an issue among them.
I would have loved to have been able to get a sibling with my new pup, but couldn't afford it.
 
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