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Thread: Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

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    Default Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

    Hello, we are new to the forum and are excited to talk to fellow bully lovers. My wife and I recently brought two wonderful male English Bulldogs puppies home. They are 10.5 weeks old now. Our breeder is absolutely great and did warn us about the concern of raising two male littermates, but she feels that it is doable but requires much more than 2 times the training, patience, money, etc.

    My wife and I are ready for the challenge... but I will admit we hadn't fully researched the issue ahead of time ourselves. We went to pick up the one puppy and fell in love with his brother too... just like many others do I'm sure.

    We bought a show quality puppy and the other was born with a hair lip. He had to have minor surgery to fix this before the breeder could give him to us. We worked out a good price for the 2nd pup and she set up the surgery with her trusted vet. She also discussed raising two puppies with her vet, and he thought we could succeed as well because of our plans to neuter the one needing surgery and not neuter the other unless that presented problems down the road. Also, we donít have other dogs in the house, especially females, so no worries about them fighting over a female in heat.

    After having both guys and then fully researching this topic, I've learned about all of the issues that could arise: Littermate Syndrome, issues training them together, bonding issues, separation anxiety, etc. I must admit reading articles strongly advising us to re-home one of the puppies has been extremely disheartening.

    There is no way we could ever do that. Instead, we are hell bent on raising them both right. I would like to run our current approach by you all and see if you have any additional insight. Also, if you think our approach is a good one and if we truly follow it you think we will succeed, please let me know. We could definitely use a confidence booster after everything we've read online

    Our approach:
    * We keep the puppies in separate crates on other ends of the living room where they can't see each other because of the couch
    * We only let them out at the same time for 15-20 minutes per day. All play is highly supervised, especially because one of the guys still has stitches (they come out this Monday).
    * We spend significant time each day bonding and training individually with each puppy (socialization outings to a nearby town, individual puppy socialization classes, training sessions with them away from the other dog and also in front of that dog while crated to encourage the ability to focus on us not him, time petting and cuddling while watching tv, socialization with our neighbor's young kids, etc.)
    * In addition to the separate socialization classes, we have hired a trainer to come to our house who is teaching us how to be Alpha and communicate effectively in their language
    * Alpha related training - sit/stay at doorways, for food, treats, etc.
    * We will take them separately to their vet appointments
    * We feed them in separate areas of the house
    * We try and give them separate toys, but could improve in this area
    * We walk them individually, but have also taken them on walks together which we've found has actually helped get them going. One of us will pick up one dog and walk ahead. The other dog will start walking and try to catch up then we flip.
    * We plan on keeping them highly separated for the first year then gradually letting them interact more.

    Are we doing everything we need to do to make this work? Anything you would add or change?

    It would kill us if we don't do this right and end up with two dogs who have major fights as they mature, don't develop individual personalities or strong bonds with us, major separation anxiety, etc.

    It is important for me to mention that as of now, we think they are doing GREAT. They have distinctly different personalities, motivators, etc. Also, I read that one helpful tactic could be to neuter the less dominant one and keep the more dominant in tact. This could really work out for us b/c the show puppy is the more dominant one. Could doing this help widen the hierarchy gap and lessen the need for them to "battle it out?"

    Sorry for the lengthy post! As you can see we are truly passionate about being one of the few homes to truly make a male/male littermate combo a major success. We want to get as many experience opinions as possible.

    Thanks in advance!!!

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    Default Re: Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

    Congrats on the two new babies! I'm sure you'll learn to adapt to them quickly. I'm so jealous!

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    Welcome and congrats. I only have one bully so im no help but we have lots of helpful people that will be to ur rescue shortly.

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    Default Re: Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

    Hi there and welcome to EBN. We had litter mates for 13 years and would do it all over again. Yes their bond was unlike any dog bond and was extremely strong. When Orion passed back in January we realized how strong it really was and I underestimated the loss Ace his brother would experience. I don't agree with separating them on opposite sides of the room nor only letting them out together for 15-20 minutes a day to play with each other. I just think that's very unhealthy when they're in the same household. Dogs are pack animals and IMO should be side by side, in their own crates yes and together more. But that's just me. I'd like to share my experience more in depth but I'm typing on my phone.

    While they're not bullies, here's a picture of my littler mates (Orion's the brindle). Being litter mates they were very close but I wouldn't have had it any other way. They were also very close to me individually and got their own time one on one over the years. But as a whole, we were all a pack in our household.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails -img_0746-jpg  
    Last edited by JeannieCO; 10-26-2011 at 10:25 PM.

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    Default Re: Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

    I have experience with male litter mates that were Dobermans. We had absolutely zero problems..neutered them both..had a female also..and this was 20 years ago. We didn't crate them..fed them together..slept together..played together and while they weren't bulldogs..Dobies are a very strong willed breed. Ours were our pets and lived with kids..cats and numerous people in and out. I'm going to tag @Davidh. He raises bulldogs and I'm sure he can help.Sorry..forgot to you!! You will love it here!

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    Default Re: Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

    Welcome to the site and congrats on your new pups. I would not keep them separated. It's good that you are crate training but leave their crates close by each other so they can see each other, feed them together and let them play. Limit their play time to 30 or 40 minutes at a time unless they start getting too rough and loud. If they do just stop the play by redirecting them to a toy or chew bone. NO RAWHIDES, pig ears or the like. Only Nylabones or Kongs for chew toys. I would not give Greenies either, choking hazard. They will figure out they pecking order and should be fine. If you see once they get bigger that one is bullying the other you can step in and stop it to show them that behavior is not allowed. Hope this helps and have fun with your pups. I'm sure you will have more questions but that's what we're here for.
    Have a Great Bully Day.
    Member of The Bulldog Club of America, The Bulldog Club of Texas and French Bulldog Club of America.
    Bully hugs from - BeBe, Hazel, Lucy Lu, JLO, Hillary, Henri & Katie


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    Default Re: Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

    to EBN...... glad you joined us and hope you get all the answers you are looking for. While not having had two at a time I would think that a lot of the competitive, domination issues can be avoided by making sure that they know who is the pack leader from the start.... that would be YOU.
    Good luck and may I suggest you post some pix of them before the 'pic police' come to get you... LOL Thanx

  8. #8
    Bulldog Vet in Training anatess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

    WELCOME TO EBN! We like pictures around here and you can't go too long without one before you get ganged up on to post a few. LOL!

    My husband raised 2 male dobermans. He's had them before we got married so basically, I married into a husband and 2 male dogs. If you ask him, he will always tell you that raising 2 male dogs together (littermates or otherwise) is a bad idea and he will put a bad mark on any breeder selling male littermates to inexperienced owners. But, he will raise 2 male dogs again if given half a chance.

    What you're up against is a highly elevated pack drive. 2 or more dogs raised together in a pack will retain more of their animal instincts, bond together, and not bond with the human, than a dog raised as the only dog in a pack of humans. So, if you just keep vigilant on the pack activity and be a very strong alpha (this here is very important!) you can have a healthy pack. But, you can't have a pack if you're separating them at all times. So, here is what my husband did:

    1.) Neuter both dogs. If one dog remains un-neutered you will have a harder time controlling him, especially if he has been bred. Dogs who are intact, especially after getting bred out has stronger alpha dominance tendencies which will be difficult for you and the other dog. He will have a higher chance of being territorial even when there are no females around. He will show dominance to the other dog and will continue to remind him of it. And even if your other dog is the omega type, his defense mechanism will turn on and he will fight back.

    2.) The dogs are never left alone together without their Alpha Human unless they have matured enough (for English Bulldogs, it takes up to 3 years old before they fully mature) and have not exhibited any problems the entire time. But, even when they've already matured, you still have to gauge the personalities of each of the dogs to determine if they can be left to play together in the backyard by themselves. So, even if there are humans in the house but the dogs don't show them alpha respect, they can't be left alone with them. For example, if you have a 12-year-old son that is not involved in the pack training, and he comes home from school before you get home, do not let him take the dogs out. So, everybody in the house has to do pack training with the dogs so the dogs will put them higher on the pack hierarchy. When I married into my husband's pack, my husband took a loooooonngg time to train the dogs to respect me. I can't be left alone with the dogs until my husband was confident I gained alpha rank. Now, all this, of course, means that your dog must be trained and trained well. And yes, it also means that you must be trained and trained well to be a pack leader. Untrained humans around an unsupervised pack is a recipe for disaster. An 11-year-old boy died from being ganged-up on by 3 rotties. English Bulldogs can easily kill a child if they decide to gang up on him.

    3.) Spend quality time with each dog separately. You will need to form a bond with each dog, and then form a bond together as a pack. And they need to be socially trained separately too. This can be tricky. You can't just leave one dog in the kennel while you take the other dog out to play with the family in the next room. The other dog will sense it. So, you kinda have to take the dog out of the house and socialize completely away from the other dog.

    4.) Dogs will fight. That's a given. English Bulldogs may not have as strong a prey drive and not as aggressive as dobermans but they can still be territorial, even when neutered. That's why you get to be a strong Alpha Dog because then, when a fight breaks out, you have to be able to maintain control of the dogs at all times. You can't just let them "fight it out"!

    My husband is a very strong leader to his pack. Those 2 dobermans have utmost respect for him. And he has both dobermans trained very well. They are so well trained that if he tells one dog, "Stay with Mommy", that dog will be stuck to my knee everywhere I go. I could walk out to the ocean with the waves crashing on the dog's chest and he will still stick with me. But even then we experienced quite a number of fights! Most of them between 1 and 2 years of age. There was one time that we had to take both dogs to the vet for $800 worth of stitches plus stitches on my husband too! And all this happened right infront of my husband, the Alpha.

    This may not sound very humane, but this is how my husband controlled his 2 dobies - when a fight breaks out, he would hold both dogs by their necks (one on each hand - yeah, my husband is very strong) and push their faces to the ground and tell them to lay and stay in his normal commanding tone (not much different than when he says lay and stay on regular occasions). They would squirm and snarl and try to break free but my husband keeps them down. It usually just takes a few seconds before they realize the "Alpha has spoken" and they start to calm down. Now, imagine 2 snarling dobermans (or bullys for that matter) coming at each other with you in-between. Yep. You gotta be prepared for that. Anyway, after they calm down, they get to go back to their kennels (kennels are side by side next to each other inside our bedroom). Yes, sometimes they would snarl at each other through the kennel bars but they can't get at each other and eventually, they calm down. Be careful when you let them out - a lot of times, when they're fighting going into the kennel, they'll fight right when you get them out of the kennel! And you can't just let one dog out at a time too, it is tricky - you let one dog out first and he'll think he's the dominant dog! So, yeah, it's a balancing act, this one. But, my husband is very sensitive to his dogs' moods. He can look at the dogs and tell if they've settled their differences or not.

    ---

    Raising 2 male dogs together - even an adult with a puppy - is quite a challenge. This is not for your average dog owner. But yes, it can be done. Even when both dogs are not neutered. You just need to really know what you are up against and know what you are doing. Leadership skills is not something you can learn in theory alone. It's learned from experience. And if a dog owner doesn't have that experience previously, it will be almost impossible to raise 2 male dogs by "trial and error". It is better to just adopt the other dog out while gaining the leadership skills with the one dog and trying again later after you've gained the skills.

    I've had dogs for 30 years and I am not confident enough to raise 2 male dogs without my husband. My leadership skills is not sufficient for this undertaking even after living with 2 male dobermans. The $800 worth of stitches could easily have been one dead dog, or even one dead human!
    Last edited by anatess; 10-27-2011 at 12:32 PM.

    I got Bullied and loving it!
    Bella "Bullie" Rose, adopted on July 24, 2011

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    Default Re: Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

    Never had a problem..ever. And over the years we brought many "homeless" dogs into our home at various ages and breeds..they all accepted each other gracefully and never once was there even a growling session. And we certainly aren't .."trainers".. Or experts. Honestly..I would be more concerned over 2 females..but we've done that too. Brought in a 2 year old Rottie and our 14 year old Dobie let the new girl know WHO was in charge..no fighting..just a talking to ..in dog talk! I'm kind of surprised this would be a problem. Guess we just had "perfect" dogs!

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    Default Re: Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

    Quote Originally Posted by JAKEISGREAT View Post
    Never had a problem..ever. And over the years we brought many "homeless" dogs into our home at various ages and breeds..they all accepted each other gracefully and never once was there even a growling session. And we certainly aren't .."trainers".. Or experts. Honestly..I would be more concerned over 2 females..but we've done that too. Brought in a 2 year old Rottie and our 14 year old Dobie let the new girl know WHO was in charge..no fighting..just a talking to ..in dog talk! I'm kind of surprised this would be a problem. Guess we just had "perfect" dogs!

    Becky, I edited out my post above to take out the one about not housing 2 different ages and 2 different breeds even. I'm thinking about it and I wouldn't mind having my brother's 10yo male Golden Retriever with my 4yo male Bichon Frise permanently. I've seen the GR snarl at my bichon but I guess in his mind he's just a pest, not a "threat". My sister-in-law's brother has a 5yo male Shepherd mix. They fight once in a while when both dogs are together. My neighbor is a foster parent. She has 7 dogs of her own - 3 male dobies, 2 female dobies, 1 female pitbull, and 1 female boxer. All dogs except for the boxer and the female dobie are all rescued as adults. The boxer cannot be in the same room as any of the other dogs. All other dogs can be left unsupervised. But, my friend has had a few stitches breaking out a fight. I grew up in the Philippines with a jillion dogs. We had so many dogs I can't begin to remember all of them. Male and female, small and big, young and old. My mom rescues dogs and can't seem to let them go to adoption... Fighting dogs are a common occurrence. But, you can minimize the fight by grouping dog temperament.

    In a rescue situation, you will have a different scenario. This will be the same scenario as the dog boarders. None of the new dogs have established a territorial ownership of the place and are not "packed" so you can pretty much eliminate fights by gauging dog temperament and segregating them accordingly. When you raise both dogs as puppies, they don't have that extra "baggage" and would then be more confident in finding their place within the pack and fight for it if need be. The "baggage", especially if it involves abuse is a different thing altogether.

    AND ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING! People who have successfully raised dogs before may not know it but they have gained that pack leadership skill that is now instinctive. This is not the same as somebody who has never led a pack before. So, though some experienced people may say they've had no problems - put the same dogs in a brand new parent's hands and it may not be the same results.
    Last edited by anatess; 10-27-2011 at 01:07 PM.

    I got Bullied and loving it!
    Bella "Bullie" Rose, adopted on July 24, 2011

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    Default Re: Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

    I have never thought or heard of litter mates being a problem together either, this is interesting to me. I have 3 pups now but each has been brought into the house separately so I have no advice at all. @desertskybulldogs has experience with litter mates as well but not boy and boy if that makes a difference? Welcome and YES we love pics so you better get a sharing.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Help! Raising 2 male littermate puppies.

    Thank you all for your help! Great info. I am working on attaching pics but am having issues from my work computer. I may have to try again at home.

    In the meantime, to those that have multiple bulldogs, at what point do you determine that your dogs aren't play fighting and are fighting for real? We've kept our guys separate for the most part because of the stitches, but have had them near each other and they instantly try and lunge at each others faces to bite down. We haven't allowed this to happen but you can see that it's going to as soon as we let them play after the stitches come out.

    We won't let them play unsupervised for sure, but want to know at what point to separate, correct, etc. when it comes to them play fighting. Is clamping down with their jaws/teeth on their faces, ears, etc. normal play? Do you just look to make sure one isn't shrieking in pain?

    We don't want to overprotect but certainly don't want to allow them to go past the point where it should be stopped.

    Right now play fighting is very taboo to them b/c we aren't letting it happen at all. Just want to be prepared for next week once they'll be able to play more together.

    Thanks!

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