Debunked v2

Debunked: The Truth Behind the Littermate Syndrome Myth

If you have two (or more) dogs who are siblings, you may have heard about the littermate syndrome myth. While littermates may tend to have more behavioral problems than dogs of different ages, it isn’t due to any “syndrome.” Instead, it’s often a result of how they are raised.

Keep reading to learn more about the littermate syndrome myth.

Yorkie puppies

Exploring the Origins of the Littermate Syndrome Myth

It’s difficult to know when or where the phrase “littermate syndrome” first appeared. However, the issue is likely relatively recent as more dogs have become family members rather than farm workers, hunters, or guardians.

Littermate Syndrome Dogs Myth: A Scientific Evaluation

There have been no scientific studies done on littermate syndrome. However, the term typically refers to one of two behavioral problems sometimes seen in dogs from the same litter who are raised in the same household: Aggression between the siblings, particularly when they approach maturity; and extreme separation anxiety when they are separated from their sibling, even for very short periods of time.

Rather than being caused strictly by the fact that the two dogs are littermates, these behaviors typically occur because each dog was not trained or socialized away from their sibling, causing them to be far more bonded to each other than any other human or dog.

Debunking Littermate Syndrome: Is It Just a Myth?

Labeling the behaviors as a “syndrome” implies that nothing can be done to prevent or change these behaviors when sibling dogs are raised together. In fact, giving each puppy plenty of love, training, and socialization apart from their sibling can prevent or even reverse so-called littermate syndrome, proving that it is, indeed, just a myth.

Golden puppies

Challenging the Littermate Syndrome Narrative

Sometimes people bring home littermate puppies because they think it will be easier. The dogs will play with each other, they think, and not require as much human attention. However, it is this type of thinking that often causes the behaviors labeled as littermate syndrome.

Once you realize that each puppy is its own individual and requires individual attention, training, walks, socialization, and more, you can fight back against the idea that littermate syndrome is a real thing.

Behavioral Misdiagnosis: Beyond Littermate Syndrome

What’s causing the behaviors that some might label as littermate syndrome? Some examples include anxiety, aggression, or destructive behavior. Once you figure out what’s causing the symptoms, you can address the underlying issue. You may need to work with a professional dog trainer to determine and address the true cause of your puppies’ behaviors.

The Reality of Puppy Sibling Rivalry

As with any dog behavioral issue, what you perceive as sibling rivalry may have any number of underlying causes, and it shouldn’t be brushed off as simply “littermate syndrome.” A professional dog trainer or behaviorist should be able to identify the problems and help you with solutions to address them.

Training Approaches for Puppy Siblings

Puppies should be given training and socialization both with and without their sibling so they don’t become too strongly attached to their sibling and struggle to socialize with other dogs. While it’s great that your littermate puppies love to be together, they should also be equally comfortable alone and with other dogs.

Correcting Misconceptions: "Littermate Syndrome Is a Myth"

It’s true that littermate syndrome is a myth. It’s easy to blame problematic behaviors on the fact that two dogs are from the same litter, but there are always underlying issues that are not necessarily related to the pups being siblings. Making sure each puppy gets training, socialization, and attention separate from their sibling can help prevent problematic behaviors that others may wrongly attribute to littermate syndrome.

WFR Bowl and Packet (2)

Feed Your Puppies the Best: We Feed Raw

You want the very best for both of your puppies, and the best diet is a nutritionally complete and balanced raw diet like We Feed Raw.

While many dog breeds look nothing like wolves, their digestive tracts are nearly identical, indicating that dogs are meant to eat a raw diet just like their wolf ancestors eat. Dogs still have hinged jaws and pointy teeth for ripping and tearing meat (rather than flat molars for grinding up plants), highly acidic stomachs for neutralizing pathogens that may be found in raw meat, and very short intestinal tracts that are ideally suited for extracting nutrients from muscle meat, organ meat, and bone (rather than the longer intestines found in omnivores and herbivores).

When you choose We Feed Raw, you don’t need to worry about pathogens making your pups sick, because we use a cold-pressure process to inactivate potential pathogens, making our food safe.

Complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages, including the growth of large-breed puppies, We Feed Raw offers 6 proteins (beef, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, and venison) and we ship frozen patties right to your door. All you need to do is thaw and serve.

Take our quiz now to create a personalized meal plan for one of your pups (you can add your other dogs later).


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is littermate syndrome a myth?

Yes. The behaviors often referred to as littermate syndrome are not an inevitable part of raising two (or more) dogs from the same litter. Instead, these behaviors indicate that the puppies have become too bonded as a result of not getting enough individual attention and training. Littermate syndrome is a myth because it is entirely preventable.

Is the belief that dogs who are littermates will inevitably have behavior problems true?

No. It all depends on how you raise the puppies. If you give each puppy individual attention, socialization, and training, the puppies won’t become so attached to each other and won’t display problematic behaviors that may be referred to as littermate syndrome.

If littermate syndrome is a myth, should I still be concerned about adopting two puppies from the same litter?

One puppy is a lot of work, and two puppies are more than twice as much work, which is why shelters and breeders may recommend that people don’t get two puppies at the same time. However, if you have the time and ability to give each puppy individual training, socialization, and attention, you can bring littermates into your life without worrying about them developing littermate syndrome.

We Feed Raw Packet

Help Your Puppies Thrive With We Feed Raw

Empower your puppies to thrive as unique individuals and foster their development towards becoming well-adjusted, sociable dogs. As you debunk the littermate syndrome myth through personalized attention and training, remember that a robust foundation for health starts with their diet. offers a personalized path to optimal nutrition with our balanced raw diet designed for the growth and vitality of your canine companions.

Feeding your puppies a diet akin to that of their wolf ancestors not only supports their physical wellness but also contributes to their overall behavior and training success. The high-quality proteins and carefully crafted meals from We Feed Raw ensure that each pup gets the nutrition they need to grow strong and healthy.

Unlock your puppies' potential by providing them with the nourishment they deserve. Visit to craft a customized meal plan that caters to each of your pups' dietary needs, and relish the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re contributing to their well-being and happiness. Start their journey to a vibrant, raw-fed lifestyle today and watch them flourish as independent, confident dogs.

Raw food for dogs by We Feed Raw

Complete & balanced raw meals.

Portioned out, packaged up, and cold-shipped (for FREE!).