To date, I have only ever placed one set of littermates with the same family. Not because it’s impossible to successfully raise littermates together, but because most responsible dog families are realistic with themselves about how much time, effort, and patience they can give to their new addition. They understand EVERYTHING would be greatly multiplied if littermates were brought home.
Still, I receive the occasional “should I get littermates?” inquiry. The short answer to most is no. The long answer is there are numerous variables, some pros and some cons that would need to be weighed heavily before such a big decision was made. Placing sibling puppies with the same individual should not be considered unless he or she has experience owning a Dogue de Bordeaux, and/or experience successfully raising littermates.
The following thoughts may have crossed your mind if you ever thought about acquiring littermates:
- The transition to a brand new home, new humans, new smells and new sounds would be easier for them if they have each other for comfort.
- They would always have a built-in playmate/companion.
- It would be absolutely adorable to watch them play together, snuggle together, and grow up together.
- I know I want two Dogues de Bordeaux eventually. I would rather not have to go through the “puppy phase” (housebreaking, chewing, crate training, jumping, nipping, etc.) twice. Let’s just get two babies now and get it all over with at the same time.
This may all be true, but do the pros outweigh the cons?
Real Estate: A single Dogue de Bordeaux takes up a good deal of room in your home. Do you have the space to comfortably house two full grown Dogues de Bordeaux? One crate alone is almost the size of a small bed!
Messy & Expensive: Obviously with two giant Dogue de Bordeaux puppies in the house there is never enough cleaning you can do. BIG dogs make BIG messes. Count the monetary cost. Think double the vet bill, food bill, toy bill, supply bill, and the list goes on.
Training: This is a willful breed that tends toward stubbornness as it is. One Dogue de Bordeaux puppy requires a great deal of time and energy to properly train to become a good canine citizen. Training two puppies raises the amount of work and level of difficulty substantially.
It’s just hard to get their attention. They are so distracted by one another that you become the odd man out. It seems harder to get their attention at the same time, harder to teach them emotional control, and harder to teach them boundaries. We humans become more like party poopers that interfere in their fun. They tend to ignore their owners when in a distracting or stressful situation, instead they turn to their littermate for guidance.
Littermate Syndrome: What is “Littermate Syndrome”? This is when canine siblings bond so closely on a primal level, that if they go on to share the same home and family, that deep connection can inhibit their ability to learn how to communicate with their humans and interact with other dogs. Fearfulness is a common sign of the syndrome. In some cases, littermate syndrome makes it incredibly difficult to train the puppies because they don’t respond positively to anyone other than their sibling. The puppies may not develop the human bond a puppy raised in a one dog family would.
It is important to note that I am NOT saying every two littermates raised together will develop the behavioral issues associated with littermate syndrome.
Emotional Dependency: Cohabiting siblings may become so emotionally dependent on each other that even brief separations can provoke extreme distress. Some people assume that having two pups the same age who play together and interact constantly covers their dog-dog socialization needs. The opposite is in fact true. They don’t learn how other dogs play and have no idea about social skills with other puppies, adolescents, or adult dogs.
Squabbles: Do you have brothers or sisters? Did you every fight with them growing up? Of course you did! It is the natural way of things. You can expect that two littermates will have tiffs now and then. Especially two mature, in tact Dogue de Bordeaux males.
Furthermore, dogs are pack animals. It makes sense that the more dogs living in your household makes for an elevated pack drive. This can sometimes (not always) lead to rank issues, i.e., fighting. Regardless of whether you bring home littermates or just one puppy, YOU MUST BE THE LEADER OF YOUR PACK!
My sincerest recommendation is to put as much age difference between your dogs as possible. Get one at a time.
That being said, with plenty of hard work and perseverance you can raise two well adjusted, obedient, happy members of society. Here are a few tips
- Get two crates. Use them! The puppies should sleep in their own crates. They MUST learn how to be alone. You can place the crates close together initially. Gradually increase the distance between the crates until they can no longer see each other.
- The pups should spend an adequate amount of time apart EVERY DAY.
- Separate training sessions. This way you get each of their undivided focus. Walk them separately. Socialize them separately. Don’t freak out! It isn’t forever. I promise you though that if you are always trying to do these things while they are together, you are going to be competing with one of the puppies for the other’s attention. And you will lose some of the time. You must create one-on-one human bonding time with each of them.
- Separate play sessions. I am not saying not to let the puppies play together. Just make sure you are devising play time for them individually. Bonding with YOU is more important than them bonding with each other.
- BE THE PACK LEADER. Mountains of problems will be avoided if your pack knows you are in charge.