Littermate Syndrome In Dogs or Canines

Littermate Syndrome In Dogs: 2024 Myths & Truths

Wondering What exactly is littermate syndrome? Littermate Syndrome (additionally known as Littermate Aggression or Sibling Aggression) is a non-medical anecdotal term. This term refers to an entire host of behavioral problems that generally tend to present when dog (canine) siblings are raised in the same family.

Littermate syndrome in canines takes place whilst dogs from the same litter residing collectively develop a robust attachment to each other. It interferes with their ability to interact in a regular way with other humans, dogs, or animals. 

This occurs because littermates bond so intensely that they fail to expand connections with their human family.

Pups with littermate syndrome only have interaction with each other and emerge as exceedingly dependent on each other for a sense of protection and normalcy.

This syndrome can have an effect on puppies of any breed. Also, it is able to additionally have an effect on unrelated dogs who’re adopted at the same time and raised collectively.

What are the symptoms of littermate syndrome?

Will your dogs fight if they have littermate syndrome? While it’d appear like a swell concept at first, our advice is that you do not get dogs from the same litter.

There are a plethora of problems that would plague your family for years if they were not addressed immediately. Let’s evaluate the most common signs of littermate syndrome.

Hyper Attachment

Imagine what it might be like in case you could not be with a person you craved. This is a probable problem with littermate syndrome.

If the dogs feel misplaced without their other half, they might turn out to be combative with other puppies or humans. They could have an obsessive, unhealthy need to spend every minute of every day with their siblings.


You have possibly seen the tiniest of puppies pouncing and playing around. They love jumping on top of each other, with politeness gnawing at each other’s ears and feet.

After some months though, this same jokey mindset can be misconstrued as an attack. Sibling contention is not the most common sign of littermate syndrome. However, it is definitely a possibility.


There’s a technical term for this problem – neophobia. As described through Oxford Languages, neophobia is an “excessive or irrational fear or dislike of something new or unfamiliar.”

To a brand new puppy, everything is new or unfamiliar. The best factor that could be a known amount is their sibling; if they’re usually with their siblings, they might develop to worry about everything else.


Do you remember what it was like being away from your parents while you have been young? Maybe a brother or a sister? You possibly thought they’d never come back.

Littermates syndrome is an actual problem among siblings that would last their whole lives. If not addressed, the dogs could howl or cry the whole time they’re separated from their siblings.

Lack of Social Skills

Your expectation is probably to take your doggy to play in the park. While they realize each other’s barks and scents, the aromas and sounds of new pals could set them off. They do not realize how to reply to new puppies. They could turn out to be idiotic.

Training Issues

You have brought 2 dogs home to share your family, your house, and your heart. But they have got each other, why would they want to pay attention to you? The most effective form of obedience schooling can be undermined through a loss of need for anyone but each other.

Effects of littermate syndrome

  • The shy doggy will become increasingly withdrawn and introverted and in no way reaches potential.
  • Often even the “bold” doggy seems to be pretty anxious and unsure when separated.
  • The dogs frequently grow to be quite co-dependent, showing excessive tension when separated.
  • They frequently fail to bond to their human family as strongly as they in any other case would, if at all. 
  • At social maturity, these dogs might also additionally start combating one another, often pretty severely.

What to do when it happens

There are some portions of recommendation we will provide in case you believe littermate syndrome can be affecting your dog. However, do not forget that a behaviorist or instructor can be useful for more extreme behaviors.

Gradually Separate Your Canines

Your canines can be able to feel calmer and much less protective in case you preserve them separate in certain situations.

They might be capable of developing self-assurance and recognizing the right socialization strategies through trying alone. Use very slow strategies to separate them, and do not feel they usually need to be separate. 

Allow them to sleep one after the other in their personal crates, supply them with one-on-one play periods in different rooms, and additionally permit them to devour by themselves.

If you can, keep in mind taking them to different behavioral training or walking them one after the other sometimes. It enables us to interrupt the poisonous pattern which could cause bad behavior.

Socialize Them Each With Other Dogs

While walking them or in socialization training, make sure they may be alone sometimes. Allow them to not feel protective, jealous, or any other terrible behaviors from having their sibling along with them there.

If they have already got issues, seek advice from a behaviorist first for help and then progress to a socializing class. 

This is a safe location where canines can get to know each other and emerge as more comfortable with greeting each other. Your canines can analyze those strategies alone and then display them collectively in the future.

Allow Time Together

The bond your puppies have formed is still so crucial to keep if they are residing together permanently. Make certain to give yourself time to permit your puppies to bond. Play sessions, a few walks together and allowing them to have naps together.

It will assist them to keep their bond whilst still letting them have their very own personality, time to themselves, and self-confidence.

An instructor or behaviorist can help maintain sessions among your puppies to make sure they are all wholesome and there’s no risk of aggression or encouraging horrific behavior.

Behavioral issues associated with littermate syndrome

From a younger age, the 2 pups have formed a completely strong bond, learning and feeding off of each other’s emotions. This can cause behavioral troubles in a single or both of the puppies as they develop. These behaviors frequently include:

  • Fear of human beings and other puppies
  • Crate Issues
  • Extreme separation anxiety
  • Leash Reactivity
  • Issues while encountering new conditions while alone
  • Higher occurrences of fighting in comparison to non-siblings being raised collectively.

These troubles aren’t regularly experienced right away,. however as each puppy attains mental maturity, they generally tend to intensify greatly. Littermate syndrome regularly causes aggression in breeds that aren’t vulnerable to competitive behaviors.

For example, we hardly ever see aggression in Labradors. however, when Labrador littermates are raised collectively we see a whole lot of higher degrees of aggression and or fear.

Littermate syndrome can be managed, however, it is lots of work.  A proprietor has to understand that stopping littermate syndrome does not just double their workload, but instead triples it. They will have to educate each canine individually, after which together. Remember that littermate syndrome isn’t a canine certainly performing out.

Littermate syndrome causes puppies to not go through their ordinary developmental procedure and takes a large quantity of work to overcome once it is present. At that point you are not certainly asking a canine not to be bad, you are attempting to socialize them long after their “socialization window” has closed. It is difficult to work!

What if I’ve already brought home littermate puppies?

Don’t panic! In many cases, littermates can develop up to lead normal, healthy lives withinside the same household.

Here’s what you need to know:

Give the dogs periodic time apart every single day. In that manner, you must walk them separately, play with them separately, and educate them separately.

  • Do not permit the doggies to share a crate.
  • Feed food separately.
  • Remember that both puppies are individuals. They will have precise personalities, you can inspire them differently, and can have one-of-a-kind strength levels and quirks.
  • Bond with the dogs individually, in order that they’re able to focus on you and not totally with each other.

Socialize the dogs closely between 8-16 weeks of age. They have to meet humans and different animals without their siblings present and must be taken to novel places separately.

Can littermate syndrome be prevented? 

Theoretically, yes, but it’s so tough as to be almost not possible in practice. Remember, even experienced guide canine pup raisers cannot save you from this trouble.

At a minimum, you can keep both the dogs in separate crates, during training sessions and playtime with you.

The dogs need to have greater one-on-one time with their new proprietors than they’ve with each other, efficiently doubling the work and negating any of the feasible benefits that they were adopted collectively for in the first place.

What are the signs of littermate syndrome?

  • Fear of strangers (human beings and puppies)
  • Fear of strange stimuli.
  • High stage of hysteria when separated even for a brief time.
  • Failure to learn simple obedience commands.

Final words

In conclusion, I would say that you can treat your canine who has littermate syndrome. You just need to make sure that you are following everything that we have mentioned above. These are the most common and basic things that you should do in order to mitigate littermate syndrome. 

I hope you enjoyed the article. We will be back soon with more interesting and informative pieces of writing. Till then, stay connected. Thank you. 

Frequently asked questions

Why does littermate syndrome happen?

Littermate syndrome in puppies takes place whilst dogs from the same litter living collectively develop such a sturdy attachment to each other that it interferes with their capacity to interact in a normal way with different human beings, different puppies, or any situation where they may be now no longer together

Why you shouldn’t keep littermates together?

Leaving the litter means residing with the littermates AND the parents. Keeping siblings from the identical litter collectively interferes with this ability to bond with people and develop as individuals. Often one doggy seems ambitious and confident, whilst the opposite seems withdrawn and shy.