If you search the internet for "littermate syndrome," you'll find many articles and posts explaining how keeping two littermates (or getting two puppies at the same time) can backfire in big ways. While this certainly is not a 100% rule, it is a very serious situation and should be thought about carefully before deciding to raise two puppies at the same time.
I have had sibling puppies in my home at the same time as fosters. I've always made it a priority every day to give them a lot of separate time - separate sleeping areas, crates, playtimes, training times, socialization times, etc. This means a lot of work on my part. Having one puppy is a lot of extra work for awhile, but adding that times two = a LOT of work.
It's important, though, that each puppy learn to be confident and independent on its own, not always relying on its sibling to see how to respond in different situations. It's also important to the welfare of each dog that it grows up learning how to function without the other. Things happen - dogs pass away, or get sick and need to stay at the vet, or need to be walked separately, or ... ??
Dogs that don't learn to function well on their own will be extremely stressed when they are separated from that security blanket of the other dog. If you've read my blog for long, you know that stress can have very adverse effects on the physical, emotional, mental and behavioral well-being of that dog.
I've also refused to foster two dogs together from the same intake group. Most of the dogs I fostered had concerning behavior histories, and they came to me for rehab. It's often very difficult to create changes in concerning behavior if the dog is still overly dependent on their sibling or housemate. Changes can happen more quickly and permanently if the dogs can be separated. But this is not always possible.
Working in a shelter situation, I see this very sad side of littermate syndrome every day. Two (or sometimes more) dogs are dropped off at the shelter with the comments, "oh, they need to be adopted together." This is one of the saddest things for a shelter to hear. You see, it's a job in itself to get single animals all adopted into great homes - when it is stipulated that they must be adopted together, those animals are more likely to sit in shelters for extended periods of time (or not make it out at all).
There are situations where bonded dogs cannot safely be separated. They will injure themselves trying to escape to join the other dog. They won't eat. They may even begin showing self-injurious behaviors such as chewing on themselves until sores appear. There are many situations where one dog has not learned to function on its own and its buddy passes away ... only for the other dog to pass away shortly afterwards, most likely from grief and stress.
As a professional trainer, I've had many clients contact me with issues developing between their dogs. These may be siblings adopted together, or often, they are dogs from different litters, but raised together from a young age. In many of these cases, the concerning behaviors have been going on for awhile and are being seen cropping up in other situations as well.
I was reminded in a big way recently about the dangers of littermate syndrome. I broke up two very serious fights among littermates this past week. What really stood out to me, though, is the age of these puppies. The puppies are just shy of four months old! All are happy, outgoing, sociable puppies, that apparently had lived together thus far with no issues. This is perhaps the most serious display between littermates that I've seen at such a young age.
These fights were extremely serious. Nothing broke the aggressor's (for lack of a better description - the puppy on top doing the biting and shaking) focus. I didn't even get a glance away for a second in order to break up the fight - not noise, not movement, not bodily contact, not even trying to move a large object between them. These puppies meant business.
I had to scoop one up inside a rigid plastic whelping box and hold him inside it against the wall in order for the other one to slink away to safety. And I held him there in the box for many moments until he calmed down enough for me to touch him and lead him away. He was not going to give up the fight.
What started the fight? I really don't know. I was there with them in the room, and it just exploded and escalated very quickly. There was blood. There was a puppy screaming and pinned down not able to get up. And there was the one on top, completely engrossed on biting the other one in a frenzy.
It's not safe for these four month old puppies to be with each other anymore, which is very sad for all concerned. However, they continue to be happy, outgoing puppies, and have not shown that they have issues with other, older, unrelated dogs or with people.
Please research littermate syndrome - don't just read one site, read several. Get the real gist of the broadness of the situation and symptoms, as well as what can be done to provide each puppy with lots of individual training and socialization to build confidence and independence. This may be something that you are capable of doing and you're willing to take a chance with two puppies, or it may not be.
But please research first. Educate yourself and know what you're getting into. It could go very smoothly for you, or it may not. If it goes badly, it's heartbreaking to have to rehome one of your dogs because they no longer get along, and it's also heartbreaking to live in a home with dogs that need to be kept separate all the time so they don't hurt each other.
**For more information about blind and/or deaf dogs, visit my website at www.yourinnerdog.com You will find articles, books, online classes and resources there to assist you! To subscribe to this blog and receive emails as each new post is published, please scroll to the blog header above and add your email address!**