Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Simple Answer: For the average family, it often ends in disaster. It’s simple. It becomes about 3x harder to train, feed, walk, manage, play, feed and sleep these puppies.
Understandably, some families and their children may want to get more than one puppy for their family. This can be for many reasons, for example:
I have 2 kids, and I want each of them to have their own puppy because they can each learn to look after their own and have their own responsibilities.
I went to pick up my new puppy and saw another one and couldn’t resist.
I want a friend for my puppy to play with when we are working.
I heard that two puppies are better than one.
I believe that they will learn from each other.
I believe they will keep each other entertained.
They really look cute together.
These are quite normal feelings that we as dog-lovers may have. Some may even be true but generally not of siblings.
There are other reasons that people get more than one puppy. These reasons come from a completely different source, other than their personal wants. For example, being given the puppy by a breeder, a pet store, a rescue organization or from a friends litter.
Often when people are asked why they got a second puppy (when they may have only intended to get one), they say that the place where they got them from suggested:
“Get the littlest puppy as well as no one wants it, and I may have to put it down”.
”You know it would be great for the kids to each have their own puppy to stop arguments.
“If you get a second one, I can give it to you at a discount price.”
It is common for non-professional or home breeders to be unaware that they shouldn’t sell or give away siblings to the same adopting or purchasing family.
However, every professional supplier of puppies should know that the average family with little to no existing and effective dog knowledge does not have the skills or the time to ensure a positive outcome.
If a registered rescue shelter doesn’t know about the issues and pressures added to the family, then it may be best to train their staff before they put them in contact with clients.
When clients ask qualified breeders about owning 2 puppies, most of them say "no" or "we don’t advise this" and follow up with why they shouldn’t. Often, when the client insists, they further discuss the issues which generally occur. It is important to know that many issues can take months to show
Most families will struggle with the commitment and not have the resource to train these two dogs effectively.
Are there any exceptions to owning 2 puppies from the same litter? Yes. On rare occasions, breeders may allow a family to have sibling puppies.
So who or what are the exceptions?
The previous experience of the new owners is the primary exception. Clients who have multiple dogs on their farms or properties where each dog has its own space and are trained and fed separately. Those who have the time, dedication and prior knowledge may make the situation work. However, even in this situation, it is scarce for people to own two female siblings.
Why can't I, or why shouldn't I get two puppies from the one litter?
There is a very well known syndrome called "Littermate Syndrome".
There have been "Littermate Syndrome" studies done by guide dog associations that turned up incredible results. When a family was given 2 dogs from the same litter to raise, on every single occasion, at least one of the puppies was deemed "temperamentally unsuitable for work", even though both dogs started out being fully capable.
This is because the dogs begin to rely on each other as they progress through their imprint periods, dogs that began outgoing and confident become shy and introverted, and even puppies that remain confident often become nervous when left alone, noted as separation anxiety. Another dog's presence also halts the puppies' ability to bond with its owner as you are expanding the puppies "pack" and allowing them to rely on each other instead of you and your family. This then manifests in aggression from the dogs once they hit maturity, both towards the family and the other dog they were brought home with.
Pack structure is a massive aspect of a dog's world, and when getting two dogs from the same litter, you are taking an existing pack (which will actually have a stronger bond) and placing it in your family pack. This is where bad things start to happen. A whole host of bad behaviours arise from poorly formed pack structures. For example, excessive chewing and mouthing, barking for attention, separation anxiety, food aggression and many more.
Please remember that this refers to two puppies from the same litter. There are still some issues with two puppies simultaneously and from different litters, but they are not as difficult to manage in most cases.
Getting a puppy with another dog already at home generally does not have anywhere near the same issues and is a very normal practice.
It is a very poor decision to get two puppies from the same litter in almost all cases.
Sometimes, people with extensive prior K9 knowledge may be able to handle the added stresses of getting two dogs from the same litter, but it is still generally not recommended.
If you are going to get two dogs from the same litter, never get two female dogs.
"Littermate Syndrome" is going to affect your entire life if you still decide to get two dogs from the same litter. You will have problems with separation anxiety, excessive barking, chewing and mouthing, food aggression and more.
If your breeder tries to get you to take more than one dog form the litter, they are either misinformed or not a professional breeder. It would be recommended not to get puppies from them.
Be safe and be informed before you make your decision.
We love our rescue shelters and the work they do. However, it is often a simple oversight or lack of experience that provides incorrect advice. Perhaps a simple training session for this team may be all that is required. Their love of dogs is obvious through their work, but with some extra knowledge, these places may improve their service.
If you are a part of a rescue shelter and you want to know more, then
firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may be able to help you or at least put you in touch with someone in your area.
We hope this helps you make an informed decision! Peter Bonney Bonnies Dog Obedience and Puppy School