Sometimes when you are ready to adopt a puppy, you are given a choice from the entire litter. And you may think at some point, I want them all! They are all so cute how can you choose just one? So should you adopt two puppies?
Honestly, the only personal experience I’ve had with having litter mates is when we fostered two lab mixes, Apollo and Calypso. I was convinced that fostering two puppies was easier than one puppy!
What did I learn from having two puppy siblings? It is NOT easier with two puppies at the same time. It was double the potty accidents, double the mischief, double the trouble! The only positive, they played with each other non-stop and eventually tired each other out!
But I don’t want you to take my word for it. I reached out to the Rescue Dogs 101 community for stories of adopting siblings, bonded pairs and more.
This story was generously shared with us by Jill at CharityPaws.com
We had just bought our first home and even before getting furniture I knew we had to have a dog! I took a trip the local shelter and I fell in love with the perfect puppy. I brought my husband down so he could meet her – and at that moment, a different dog jumped in his lap.
As we looked at that pile of puppies we thought, how could we take just one?
And that is how we wound up with Ginger and Riley, pit bull sisters we brought home at 8 weeks and loved and cherished until they passed at 14 and 14.5 years of age.
Having sisters was a great experience overall – they loved hard, they played hard and they always had each other. Watching them together brought us much joy over the years and they became like one dog. That is where the problem was.
They could not be apart – ever.
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Going to the vet was traumatic if the other one did not go. We could not play or walk one without the other. When we wanted to enroll them in a doggie daycare, they tried separating them since they had a “pack mentality” when they were together – but the separation caused them to become physically ill. Riley was our dominate girl, Ginger was completely submissive and without her big sister she had this sense of loss that you could feel. That is not healthy for any dog.
Even in their old age – Riley passed in August, she has been sick – but what shocked us is when Ginger passed 6 months later. Ginger had never been sick a day in her life – but 2 months before she passed was diagnosed with a tumor – one that she did not have just 3 months before at a checkup. We are chalking it up to heartbreak.
I also later learned that it is rare that 2 females get along, even as sisters and that the shelter should not have adopted out 2 females together, especially to first time pet owners. We are thankful this was a non-issue for us, but have heard of it causing havoc for other families who have adopted sisters.
Adopting siblings is an awesome experience – and I would do it again, but I would do it differently! I would make sure from day 1 they have a separate identity by giving them separate crates, walking them at different times and making sure they spend enough time apart to ensure they are comfortable in their own skin.
I do think if someone is considering puppies, getting a pair is a great option to allow them to burn off that crazy puppy energy!
[Are you getting ready to adopt a new dog? Make sure to read 53 Questions You MUST Ask a Rescue BEFORE Adopting a Dog]
This story was generously shared by Martha, a Rescue Dogs 101 Community Member
I always have rescue animals (dogs, cats, horses) but my story is about a brother/sister pair of black lab/flat-coat retriever mix puppies. I adopted them in 2004 from the local shelter in NW Florida.
The female, Maggie, died 2 years ago at 12-1/2 years old of a sudden tumor burst, and her brother is still with me at 14-1/2 years old.
I had wanted another dog after my cocker spaniel died from cancer and left a hole in my heart. We went to the shelter and met with a group of puppies; I wanted a female, but started to suggest to my husband that two puppies would be better than one. They’d keep each other company and be twice as much fun.
Even though he is more of a cat person, he agreed and we adopted this pair. They were twice as much fun, twice as frustrating to train (I ignored all the advice about never training two dogs at once), and twice as many piles to pick up in the yard.
They definitely filled the previous hole in my heart and stretched it even further through the next 12 years. They loved rides in the car, walks around the neighborhood (they definitely kept me active on a daily basis!)
Maggie was the beta (I am the alpha, naturally) and stuck by my side always. She would smile on command and her bark was “girly,” according to my kids. Hades (named after a Disney character) was the follower, always happy to be around and loved a back scratch and tummy rub any time.
I lost Maggie within hours of noticing she was uncomfortable and restless; we had no idea she had a tumor, which had burst and was bleeding out, so we let her go. It nearly killed me, and put her brother into a 3-day depression. She is buried with her favorite squeaker toy (the only one she never destroyed) in our back pasture and I say hi to her every time I ride past that area.
Hades is a lot grayer now, arthritic, and spends most of his time sleeping in the back bedroom. I am amazed that they lived as long as they did, and he’s still hanging in there. I have since adopted two more rescues, whom he only tolerates, like an old man with a bunch of rambunctious kids running around raising Cain.
As you can imagine, 12-14 years with them hold a ton of memories, nearly all of them good. I wouldn’t trade that for the world!
It all started when a friend of a friend was fostering a pregnant rescue. My husband and I were living with another couple to save up some money to build our house. My friend got the great idea, knowing that my husband and I wanted a dog when we moved, said we should look at these puppies. So that’s what we did.
I got to watch them grow from birth and even went to visit a few times as the weeks progressed. Then the five week marker came and we had to decide on our puppy. The decision was hard and my husband wasn’t much help, but the puppies chose me. Lana (the lighter one) and Ray (the darker one).
We enrolled them in obedience class. When the instructors found out we were adopting litter mates, they tried to talk us out of it giving all of the reasons not to. My husband and I did our research and of course decided to keep them both. We we’re very diligent on keeping separate crates, play time, and training with both of us. I think it also helped having three dogs already in the house.
It was so cute having two puppies roaming around, but potty training was difficult. There were some nights I cursed my room mate for giving us the idea of adopting two puppies. Waking up for one barking is enough, but add another and it makes it interesting.
Now that they are almost two, I could never imagine not having both of them. They are the best of friends, but they have also bonded with my husband and I just like if we only had one. They have their own play style and they know how to trick each other into getting whatever bone or toy the other has.
They can play off each other, but what dogs don’t. I think we have two pretty amazing dogs and we just adopted our third. She is a year older, but the siblings have welcomed her in and we are all one big family!
It is much more time consuming having two puppies instead of one and I feel like there is a lot to consider. I’m happy we knew about the issues of litter mates not bonding with their human family so we knew how to work with it. I think if you are willing to put the extra time and effort into separate time for just you and each puppy, it is so worth it! I would do it again in a heartbeat!
On occasion, adult dogs that have lived together their entire lives are surrendered to a shelter. This can happen because their owners passed away, or can’t take care of them for some reason.
When dogs live together for an extended period of time, they can become bonded to each other, maybe even inseparable.
Some rescues will try everything they can to adopt bonded pairs together. Separating bonded dogs is possible, but once dogs create that bond, separating them could cause depression and unwanted behaviors.
If you are searching Petfinder and come across a bonded pair of dogs, you may quickly skip over them. But pause for a moment and consider your situation and maybe you could adopt two dogs at once.
Adopting a bonded pair of dogs could be life-saving for them. But don’t adopt out of pity. Make sure you are prepared to jump in to have two dogs at the same time… an instant full house!
Most rescues and even breeders will not allow sibling adoptions. It is believed that siblings should be separated by 7-9 weeks of age. This will help the puppy bond with their new human instead of bonding with the sibling.
As you read in the above stories, raising sibling puppies successfully is possible. It may not be easy, so prepare yourself for the challenges and follow these separation suggestions.
Famous dog trainer, Patricia B. McConnell, highly recommends NOT adopting litter mates. You can read her reasonings in her article Adopting Littermates… (Don’t).
Raising two puppies from different litters is not much is different from raising from the same litter. Separation is still going to be the key. Follow the tips above. I would recommend adopting one puppy at a time, even if it’s a few months apart. This will give time for the first puppy to adjust to his new home. Read the 3-3-rule about bringing home a rescue dog.
Now that you’ve read the personal stories of families that have adopted two dogs. Let’s look at some of the facts.
LOVE: Double the love. Let’s face it, dogs bring us unconditional joy.
TRAINING: Dogs can learn from each other. This actually can be good and bad. They may pick up each others good and bad behaviors. But if one dog is fearful, and the other confident, the confident dog can boost the fearful dog’s confidence. Training will need to be done separately. It’s impossible to train two puppies side by side. You will never have their full attention on you to learn.
TIME: Again, you should be prepared to train both dogs separately. Both dogs will need individual time to play, eat and sleep.
COST: It’s expensive to have two dogs. You will need double the supplies, double the food, double the vet bills. This adds up really quick. Just for food alone, we go through a 40lb bag every 3 weeks at $70 a pop. The annual vet visits rank up into the hundreds.
COMPANIONSHIP: Not all dogs like to be in a pack. Some dogs prefer to be the only dog. Adopting two at once, you don’t have the opportunity to learn about his personality first. Having two dogs in the home may lessen the likelihood of separation anxiety. They will have each other to keep each other company. Siblings will need to be separated during certain times of the day.
CLEANUP: Double the cleanup. Potty training two puppies was a crazy experience for us. Expect to be pulling out your carpet cleaner daily… who am I kidding… we used ours hourly!!! And once they are potty trained, twice the amount of poop to clean up in the backyard.
If you scanned down and didn’t want to read all the facts, here is my summary: if you adopt two dogs at once, you need to set aside time to do things with them separately. Separate training, play, walk, and crates. Not all dogs are created equal. Sometimes adopting two dogs at the same time will work out great, other times not so much.
Everyone will have a different experience, every situation is just as unique as every dog and human. And when I went to research the topic of adopting siblings, I was surprised to see all the negativity around it.
My recommendation is to get one dog at a time. Multiple dogs in a household are great, we’ve almost always had had two dogs in our home. There was only one dog we had that I knew preferred to be the only dog, so we honored that part of his personality.
I hope you enjoyed reading the community stories. If you have one to share, please leave a comment below!
P.S. Still looking for a bonded pair adoption story. If you’d be willing to share your story and a photo, please contact me right away.
Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.