Littermate Syndrome

Littermate Syndrome is the general term for what many experts believe occurs when two puppies from the same litter (or even two young puppies of the same age adopted at the same time) go to the same home. Their bond is so deep that it can create dangerous and unpleasant side effects that are not fair to themselves or those around them.This bond can prevent them from grasping the important nuances of human and canine communication. Thus, it may:
  • Prevent them from bonding with their owner(s).
  • Cause fear of unfamiliar things or strangers.
  • Result in severe separation anxiety if they are away from each other.
  • Inhibit their ability to learn basic obedience.
  • Escalate into aggression between the pair or other dogs as they get older, often with one sibling being the instigator or bully.
It is very common for DHDR to receive owner surrender requests for one of two littermates when they reach about one year of age and problems start to become too difficult to overcome. While much of the information on Littermate Syndrome is anecdotal, and sometimes littermates can do well together, concerning trends are so prominent that reputable rescues, breeders, and shelters will not adopt out littermates to the same home. Breeders selling littermates do so to make more money.
It is possible to have a healthy bonded pair, and it is a myth that they have to grow up at the exact age together. If you dream of a bonded pair, consider bringing puppies or adult dogs into your home at different ages, after the first is stable in your home. Some of the most bonded pairs we have seen over the years did not meet as puppies.
Thinking of getting a puppy? Check out this free online course, or email DHDR at for a free Doberman puppy guide!
Further Littermate resources: