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Do Bonded Dogs Need to Be Adopted Together? Vet-Reviewed Facts

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on March 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

Sealyham Terrier and golden retriever

Do Bonded Dogs Need to Be Adopted Together? Vet-Reviewed Facts


Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo


Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you are adopting the dog of your dreams, what happens if they come as a package deal? Would it change your mind or make you reconsider if you know that they already have a best friend who has been through life with them?

If you’re wondering if you should adopt two bonded dogs together, the obvious answer is yes if you can. If the two dogs get along well and would work best together, try to welcome both if possible. In this article, we will discuss when it is and isn’t appropriate to adopt two bonded dogs and how you can navigate it.

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What Does It Mean When Two Dogs Are Bonded?

Two dogs that are bonded means the dogs have been together for a long time, usually all of their lives. The two dogs may be from the same litter, they could be a parent and offspring, or they could be unrelated but have known each other since they were puppies.

Bonded dogs usually show more closeness and physical contact with each other. They have a healthy and positive relationship. If they are separated for any reason, they may start to whine to be back together or one or both dogs may even become anxious.

When shelters and rescues get a bonded pair, most do everything in their power to adopt the two out together. This seems to be the obvious choice, but is it always the best one? That depends on who you ask.

two young American Cocker Spaniel dogs
Image Credit: Kebal Oleksandra, Shutterstock

Should You Adopt a Bonded Pair Together? The Subject Is a Bit Controversial

It seems that if you take this question to the world wide web, you’re going to get some conflicting information. Some suggest that adoption together is the only way to go, while others seem to shed some light on the negatives of this decision.

The Positives of Adopting a Bonded Pair

You can learn a lot and keep a clean conscience about adopting a bonded pair. Here are some upsides to adopting a bonded pair.

1. It Might Make the Transition Easier

If you’re going into a brand-new situation, you might be very anxious to do it by yourself. However, say a friend or other familiar person is with you; it often makes that anxiety a lot less. So, when it comes to acclimating to a new home, it is often easier when there is a level of comfort and friendship existing.

When you bring home a bonded pair, they might warm up and show you their true colors a lot faster than a dog that is by themselves and completely timid, scared, and uncertain whether they can be their normal, relaxed self.

two brown and white dogs running dirt road during daytime
Image Credit: Alvan Nee, UnSplash

2. You Already Have a Duo

Many dogs do better with a playmate or companion, especially if you have to leave them alone for long stretches. If you adopt both dogs, you’re already providing that companionship and company. You don’t have to worry about finding another dog and waiting for that friendship to develop.

If you were initially worried about getting a single dog, this could alleviate a lot of that concern. You will be able to develop a bond with each of them, creating a little family connection.

3. It Could Cut Out Some of the Bad Feels

It can be very stressful to come into a new home, and that stress can lead to some bad or unwanted behaviors. This can include destruction and separation anxiety. Adopting a bonded pair will give each dog that company and help them keep that familiarity. Therefore, it may reduce many of these potentially problematic behaviors.

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The Negatives of Adopting a Bonded Pair

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine. Plus, each circumstance will be different, so here are some things that can go wrong if you adopt a bonded pair.

1. It’s a Lot to Take On

Taking on one dog is hard enough. You have to think about how you will financially feed them, give them the things they need, and make sure they get the attention they require. If you take on two dogs at once, you must remember that you also assume twice the responsibility.

Sometimes, this can be a lot in both time management and finances, so it’s certainly something you want to consider. If you have two grown adults, the responsibility can be a little less since they require less time and resources than two puppies.

two cute havanese dogs sitting in forest
Image Credit: Peter Mayer 67, Shutterstock

2. You Might Not Be Compatible With One

Some dogs are better suited for certain types of owners, and it may be that one of the dogs isn’t compatible with you. Maybe they like to get more or less exercise that you can provide, or maybe they need a bit more training in the obedience department than you can give them. Either way, if one of the dogs isn’t working out as well, it might impact your feelings about your decision.

3. One Might Have Special Needs

You have to consider the health of both dogs. One of them might be completely healthy, while the other one might require some extra accommodations. Whether it be a physical disability or illness, you have to be prepared to financially and physically support them.

Some issues might be very easy to fix, such as allergies or anxiety maintenance. However, other issues like diabetes or physical limitations can be costly and time-consuming to treat.

4. Challenges May Arise Between Other Pets

If you already have pets, bringing two bonded dogs into the situation might create conflict. You can never be sure exactly how compatible they will be, and it can take them several weeks to figure it out themselves.

If you have a pair teaming up against the existing dog, or there’s been any kind of change in the friendship, it can cause a lot of struggles. It can be extremely hard to navigate the situation since you have adopted a bonded pair, and you won’t want to get rid of your first dog either.

dogs running at off leash park
Image Credit: Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin, Shutterstock

5. Dynamics Can Change

Things can change over time. The bonded pair might adjust differently in the new home, which can cause shifts in the way the two interact with each other. If behavioral problems start, you must have a plan to take care of the issues. A solution might require additional resources, brainstorming, and accommodation.

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Make Sure Your Family Is Compatible with Both Dogs

Before you bring home a pair of bonded dogs, it is important to make sure they are compatible with every single member of your family, human or otherwise. If you have farm animals, it is important to know that these new dogs will not be harassing your livestock.

It’s also good to be aware of any particular quirks and behaviors they have so you know how to protect your belongings and others in the home. Make sure the shelter or rescue offers a trial period so you can make sure both dogs work out before completely committing to giving them a home.

two australian shepherd dalmatian mix dogs playing outdoors during autumn
Image Credit: PhoTonie, Shutterstock

Questionable Breeds

You might have this gorgeous little Labrador that’s the sweetest dog you’ve ever seen sitting right in front of you. Next to it is an equally sweet and ultra smiley Pitbull. Even though both dogs are lovely and wouldn’t hurt a fly, it might not always matter when it comes to homeowners’ insurance, rental agreements, and other zoning stipulations.

Unfortunately, dogs like Pitbulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and other breeds can unfairly be considered dangerous or aggressive. Many types of living situations may not allow these breeds. If one of the dogs is an acceptable breed and the other is not, it might cause you to lose your current residence, or you might have to return the dog to the shelter.

Can Dogs Be Separated?

The truth is that the situation will depend on both individual dogs. Some dogs will develop extreme separation anxiety without one another, and others will acclimate fine after a few days. The rescue facility should do its best to judge how well one canine will do without the other.

two golden retriever dogs lying on grass
Image Credit: Standret, Shutterstock

Consider What’s Best

Alternatively, you should decide what is best for the animals and ask questions. Sometimes, moving on to find another dog is better than splitting up a pair. For example, if a rescue or shelter has a set of dogs listed that came in together, their likely efforts are to keep them close.

There are plenty of other individual dogs in the shelter that need homes, so keep in mind that it might be best to explore other options than to pick one from a bonded pair and split them up. Most likely, these rescues and shelters will have measures put in place to prevent adoption of only one dog or the other.

However, if that’s not the case, you will have to judge the situation fairly and responsibly. If you can’t take on the responsibility of two animals at once, we urge you not to even try. Overcommitment is a huge reason that animals wind up homeless and in shelters.

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The Verdict Is…

Ultimately, only you can decide if adopting a pair of bonded dogs is better than adopting just one of them. If you know that a particular pair is bonded and you like one but not the other, consider looking at other options before you decide to split the pair if you can’t take both of them on.

Twice the love can be terrific if you’re prepared for it. Keep in mind, if you have checked all the negative points and told yourself that’s something you could manage, you could be well on your way to getting twice the love. The only thing better than having one dog is having two when everyone is healthy and happy.

Featured Image Credit: Utekhina Anna, Shutterstock

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