adopting German Shepherd siblings, just asking for trouble?

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VinceS
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adopting German Shepherd siblings, just asking for trouble?

Post by VinceS » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:35 am

We adopted two sibling puppies (mixed German Shepherd brothers) from a humane society about a week and a half ago (they are now almost 11 weeks old). When looking online to see if we should stop their rough play or allow them to establish an alpha/omega relationship aside from our pack leader status, we discovered that there were dire warnings about raising two siblings together. The extra work is not an issue .. it is their healthy development that is of concern to my wife and I. Most sites say to rehome one of the pups ... but we are very bonded to both. Can we keep them both and help them become healthy, well-adjusted dogs? Or is it unreasonable to expect that they will not exhibit sibling rivalry as they mature ... or that we will not stunt their development because they are too bonded to one another? Another side note ... we have a 16 1/2 year old elkhound/husky mix. Although they aren't spending much time with him, they seem to get along just fine for the short periods they are permitted to be together.

mum24dog
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Re: adopting German Shepherd siblings, just asking for troub

Post by mum24dog » Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:25 am

VinceS wrote:We adopted two sibling puppies (mixed German Shepherd brothers) from a humane society about a week and a half ago (they are now almost 11 weeks old).
The society that allowed you to take 2 littermates was totally irresponsible.
Take one back now while it is still young enough to find a home easily.
If you don't, whatever you do you run the risk of the dogs hitting adolescence and trouble arising - then you have a dog with issues to rehome rather than a cute pup.
If you feel you've bonded in a week and a half, imagine how hard it will be after 6 - 12 months.
Your problem won't arise from an "alpha/omega" relationship (which doesn't actually exist) but from the fact that you have 2 dogs of similar status going through the troublesome times together.
Bear in mind too that GSDs have a tendency to be one man dogs and readily assume a protective role for their human. Again possible grounds for dispute between them.
I'm not saying that it is impossible to have litter brothers coexist peacefully, just that the odds are against it.
Please don't keep them both just to prove me wrong.

Pam

VinceS
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Post by VinceS » Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:55 am

I have had multiple dogs most of my life, but never siblings. It never occurred to us that it may be a problem until we began researching... unfortunately after the adoption.

I posted this same question on 3 different forums and have so far received 3 different answers. I was hoping that there would be some kind of agreement that we had made a mistake. We would then find one of the pups a new home while it is still cute.

Our family will have to decide what direction to take this weekend. Either to commit to dedicating all of our effort to raising the pups or admit our mistake and to correct it as soon as possible. Thank you for your input. It really is appreciated.

josie1918
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siblings

Post by josie1918 » Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:56 am

Vince,
Why don't you go to the ASPCA website, they have a section where you can ask their animal behaviorlists questions. I would think they would absolutely know the answer to your question as the business they are in is pet adoption.

mum24dog
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Post by mum24dog » Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:57 am

Here's an article on the subject.

http://www.caninedevelopment.com/Sibling.htm

Pam

josie1918
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siblings

Post by josie1918 » Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:30 pm

Along with the previous posters thread, there are books written by Patricia McConnell Phd. on positive training in multiple pet households that may help you decide if you are truly up to the extra work involved, IF you decide to keep both dogs. Treating them as individuals, walking seperately, playing seperately, training seperately and so on, can be impossible for some peoples schedules, However it may be ok for you. Only you and your spouse can decide that. I agree that the center you adopted these pups from should have at the VERY LEAST told you that this is the situation. Shame on them!

VinceS
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Re: siblings

Post by VinceS » Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:38 pm

josie1918 wrote:Vince,
Why don't you go to the ASPCA website, they have a section where you can ask their animal behaviorlists questions. I would think they would absolutely know the answer to your question as the business they are in is pet adoption.
Josie, That's an excellent suggestion. Unfortunately I am blocked from the ASPCA site by my employer (it must be a radical organization :?: ). I will have to attempt it when I get home. I was able to locate an IAABC member that is near me. I have already sent them an e-mail and hope to hear from them very soon.

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Wes
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Post by Wes » Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:39 pm

I would tentatively agree to rehoming one of the dogs as well, though dogs of the same age/gender can get along. You just want to be setting them both up for success, and I believe it will be easier with just one of the dogs along with your current one.

Also, forget about that "pack leader" nonsense. You're not a dog, so you can't be a pack leader - the dogs know you're human, not canine. Treat the dogs consistently and with respect, and you'll gain their respect in return. No need to have a "dominant pack leader" in a respectful human/canine relationship.

mselisabs
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Post by mselisabs » Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:07 pm

Woah, is there legit truth to this? That it's a no-no to adopt siblings? I've seen plenty of siblings get along well perfectly well. Yes, they will skirmish like any human/animal siblings, but no threat more then a non-related.

Not to say you should leave dogs together unattended, but this is the first I've heard about any problems with adopting siblings!

VinceS - I actually have extended family that has two GSDs gotten from the same litter. They're adults now and although they do play rough they've never had any real problems. They were sure to start training young, though!

mum24dog
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Post by mum24dog » Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:22 pm

mselisabs wrote:Woah, is there legit truth to this? That it's a no-no to adopt siblings?
Absolutely. Responsible breeders and rescues don't allow two littermates to go to the same home because of the high return rate.
Unfortunately there are too many of the irresponsible kind around who don't give a lifetime guarantee that the dog can be returned at any time in case of problems, so why should they care if things go belly up once they have parted wiith the pups?
Read the link I posted above which goes some way to explain the reasons why it is a bad idea.

Pam

emmabeth
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Post by emmabeth » Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:52 pm

Honestly - take one back.

The ideal for success is one pup at a time. Even pups of different ages and not related is frequently a recipe for disaster... siblings is potentially a nightmare.

You do hear of people having done it successfully - you rarely hear that these people have dogs who can mix well with others, be taken wherever, cope with a wide range of situations and are seperately and together, well trained and obedient!

As Pam says, reputable breeders just dont sell littermates together and there are VERY few who will run on two even when they fully intend this to only be for six months or so, to see which pup is more suited to the showring!

Evaluate what you want from owning a pup - if you are NOT wanting a serious challenge and at least triple the work for every single stage then take one back. Pups get homes fast, and they get homes a LOT faster than they do when they are 18 months old and havent really had the benefit of one to one handling/training!

jttb
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Post by jttb » Fri Oct 30, 2009 7:27 am

Until I read the responses to this post, I did not know it was a bad idea to raise siblings together. 3 years ago, my husband and I adopted 2 Fox Terrier/Jack Russell siblings. We still have them and they are doing great. They both are well behaved and obedient. They have 2 very different personalities and likes/dislikes. They get along well with our other dogs, we can take them with us, and they are ok by themselves or with each other. Good luck Vince in whatever you and your wife decide to do.

VinceS
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Post by VinceS » Fri Oct 30, 2009 7:40 am

Based on the discussion in this forum I contacted some dog behaviorists. Two have responded so far, one is on the board of an animal behaviorist organization and the other studies dog behavior at a university. They stated that raising two pups does not cause them to have behavioral problems later in life and that being siblings has no bearing on it. They each said that siblings or same age pups that do grow up to be bad dogs are bad because of bad owners, not because of anything to do with the dogs. These owners would have bad dogs whether they had one or more. Given the proper amount of effort, two pups can grow into good dogs. Much of the information regarding sibling puppies on the Internet appears to be opinions based on casual observation instead of fact.

After finding that raising siblings would have no ill-affect on their ability to be good dogs I was able to step back and change the question. Up to now I was focused on the dogs. I have to consider how this will affect me. Like all people suffering with a chronic disease, stress greatly affects my health. Raising one puppy is stressful, but it will have good and bad days. Raising two puppies is a really bad idea, not for the puppies but for me. It may not kill me, but why create unnecessary stress? I am going to return one pup tomorrow. Now I have to deal with the stress of choosing which one. :( In the end, it will be better for me and the puppy that goes back to the Humane Society will be adopted very quickly.
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mum24dog
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Post by mum24dog » Fri Oct 30, 2009 7:50 am

Also to be taken into account in this case is the breed. Vince says GSD in the headline but mix in his OP. I'm guessing mostly GSD, which as a breed tends to have more than its fair share of behavioural problems, especially around the time of adolescence.
They aren't all Rin Tin Tin (for those old enough to know what I'm talking about) just as all Rough Collies aren't Lassie.
One at a time can be more than a handful.
Not only that, I hope Vince has deep pockets because GSDs and their crosses can also be prone to a lot of expensive conditions. Double the vet bills.
I'm not trying to put anyone off the breed as they can be wonderful dogs, but there has to be a heavy dose of realism.
I have a GSD mix myself. Mostly BC but with some GSD and the worst behaviour traits of both breeds in that he is nervous, clingy and reactive.
I've known similar mixes that have the best characteristics of the component breeds. It's a lottery both in behaviour and health.

Pam

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Noobs
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Post by Noobs » Fri Oct 30, 2009 8:00 am

Vince, best of luck to you in choosing your dog. I know it will be rough and I don't envy you your position. Thanks for posting that photo - what a beautiful pup!

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