In early August of last year, I flew across the country, from Albany to Oregon, to bring home my first purebred puppy. I researched breeders very carefully (and admit to having high criteria!) and made plans with one of my favorite friends and colleagues, Christina Waggoner and her daughter Melanie, who met me at the airport and made the trip to the breeder’s home. Chris was wonderful enough to make a video recording of me meeting the puppies for the first time, which you can see below.
Let’s just say that by 18 seconds in the video, I was ready to bring home all five of these puppies. I was absolutely smitten, well-entrenched in the deepest pit of smit imaginable. MUST HAVE MORE PUPPEHS! When you are confronted with such concentrated cuteness, so many wagging tails, round little puppy bellies, smooches, wiggly bodies, and fluffy puppy fur, an insidious thing happens. A small part of you dies temporarily, the part of you that is known as “common sense.”
Let’s be honest – the level of cuteness in this video (from the puppies, certainly not jet-lagged moi) is almost intolerable. Puppies are like kryptonite to me. In that moment, I would gladly have smuggled all of those puppies home with me.
Now, seven months later, I would be going insane. I would have approximately 1,000 lbs of Saint Bernard teenagers running around my house, breaking wine glasses, slobbering, and tormenting Her Royal Chowness.
One of the services I offer to my clients is a “new dog package,” which includes a consultation to help the owners determine what type of dog may be best for them – breed, sex, age, grooming requirements, activity levels, etc. Sometimes, a puppy is the right candidate, but I NEVER recommend getting two puppies at the same time or from the same litter. Many breeders (good breeders, anyway) will not adopt two puppies out to the same household. Why is this?
I have my reasons, which include: a) two puppies are 7x the work of one puppy and b) some of the toughest behavior modification cases I’ve handled have been for clients who have attempted to play the “multiple puppies at one time” game. A lot of people think “raising two puppies will be easier than one. They can keep each other occupied!” If you believe this, definitely seek out a mother of human multiples – twins, triplets, quadruplets, and tell her your theory. Trust me, her responses will be enlightening!
Here are some potential problems with raising two littermates:
There is at least one benefit to owning littermates – you can throw out your ankle weights! If you think it’s hard to work with one puppy hanging off your pant leg, teeth firmly embedded in your pant leg, try doing it with two!
Here is an older entry from the Dogster Guide to Behavior & Training blog about considerations for adopting a second dog to the household. It was not written specifically about littermate adoption, but should give you additional insight on the challenges of raising two or more dogs successfully.