Dog Litter Separation – Do Puppies Miss Their Littermates?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Here is everything that you should know about dog litter separation. Discover if dogs can remember their littermates and if they miss their mom.

Dog litter separation is something that is a regular occurrence.

Once puppies are old enough, breeders will hand them over to the best dog owner possible.

Puppies are usually ready to leave their pack family around 8 weeks of age.

Normally, many want to know do puppies miss their siblings once separated and if yes, for how long puppies miss their siblings.

This is something that many dog owners and dog lovers want to know.

Do puppies get sad when they leave their litter? In short, yes, they will miss their mom and siblings at first.

Opposite to humans, they will get over it fast and will not miss their littermates in the way a human might miss another living being.

Let’s elaborate on this one further and explain what might happen when litter separation goes wrong.

Do Puppies Miss Their Littermates?

In their first days, puppies are attached to their mom and will enjoy their family pack.

However, dog experts claim that puppies do not get sad when they leave their litter, at least they do not get sad like people do when separated from their families.

It is common for puppies to whine after litter separation, but that may vary from a few hours to a few days.

Puppies are usually scared of a new environment so always give your best to provide a calm and warm environment once your puppy arrives.

Here are some tips on how to help your puppy feel safe:

  • Have different toys
  • Leave a light on
  • Play some soft music for dogs
  • Avoid making sharp noises that puppies aren’t familiar with
  • Always introduce new items and sounds slowly and in a safe environment

If you separate your puppy too early from the litter you can expect to have a frightened puppy who lacks the confidence to face the world.

When Should Puppies Be Separated From Litter?

Puppies should stay with their mom and littermates until they reach a minimum of 6 weeks (8 weeks is a perfect period).

Puppy litter separation should not happen on force and earlier than recommended as it may lead to health disturbances.

Puppies should stay with their mom until they reach 6-8 weeks as this timeline is on course with a mother dog’s supplemental feeding and when the puppies should be weaned off their mother’s milk.

At the end of the sixth week, it’s essential that weaning takes place gradually – for the health of the puppies and the mother.

The weaning process can be supported by supplementing the puppy’s diet and reducing the mother dog’s frequency of nursing her puppies.

This practice can encourage her milk to dry up gradually and naturally during the six weeks to eight week period.

What can happen if weaning is stopped forcefully?

If you abrupt weaning, especially when large litters are involved, you can expect congestion of the mammary glands in the mother dog, which can be painful and may lead to mastitis, the inflammation of mammary glands.

Are Puppies Sad When They Leave Their Mom?

Puppies will cry after leaving their mom and that is perfectly normal. Being nervous, scared, fearful, or whining after leaving their mom is perfectly normal.

Some puppies might bark a lot, howl, and whine, while some might try to hide somewhere, and that is perfectly normal.

Puppies love familiar surroundings, and removing them from their mom and littermates will result in some sort of sadness or fear.

Once separated puppies will whine: some puppies might whine for only a few hours, while others may spend days whining.

Responsible dog breeders will never give their puppies before a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks: during this period puppies learn how to be dogs.

How Long Do Puppies Miss Their Siblings?

In general, puppies tend to spend 16 weeks together. As result, they may feel different surroundings for a couple of days.

Once they get that feeling of security and familiarity, they should stop thinking about their mates or feeling their littermates.

The litter connection is strongest in the beginning when puppies are highly reliant on their mom.

As the puppy approaches 8 weeks, he is becoming less reliant on his mum, making the connection between them different.

Do Dogs Know When Their Sibling Is Gone?

This is a commonly asked question.

Since dogs do not speak to humans, we will probably never discover how they are feeling in certain situations, which is why many answers are left unanswered, or half-answered.

This is why it is so hard to answer this question as well. All in all, dog experts claim that dogs do not know when another dog in their life left, went missing, or died.

Good to know: Puppies can think of you as their ‘mom’, as they will see you as a protector and provider of Fido’s needs.

Dog Litter Separation: Basics

The most important thing for puppies is to be with their mother and new sisters and brothers.

This is a significant period because it may affect how your dog will behave in the future.

The timeline should be followed, or the puppies could develop a line of problems later in life, and even the mother can experience medical problems.

Mother dogs rarely get to keep their puppies, because breeders or pet owners, usually give them off to family members, or friends, or sell them.

In some unfortunate situations, puppies do end up on the street, which is why dog adoption is so important.

Although giving the puppies away can be tempting, the proper period must be followed from when they are born to the day they are old enough to leave their mom.

Puppies must spend a certain number of weeks with their mother, brothers, and sisters before they leave them. During that time they will learn a lot.

Again, if the proper period is not followed, puppies could develop problems later in life, and the mom could also suffer serious medical issues related to separation anxiety and stress.

Things To Know About Raising Young Puppies

During the first few weeks of a puppy’s life, the puppy is heavily dependent on his mother, similar to a human child.

As expected, the puppy gets love and food from mom.

Also, from that new surroundings, puppies learn about social skills. They are learning from their mother and siblings. Simply said, they are learning how to be dogs.

Puppies learn through playing with their littermates that biting is wrong and that there is a thing such as playing too rough.

It’s common to separate puppies from their litter when they are 6 to 8 weeks old.

However, you should bear in mind that the socialization period in puppies typically lasts from 6-to-12 weeks of age.

During this time, puppies are learning about the rules and how they should behave.

This is the main reason why some breeders won’t separate puppies before they turn 10 – 12 weeks.

During this time, puppies are also introduced to humans, and they increase their contact with people.

This is the time when they learn that humans are dominant, but that they can be a part of the pack with them.

During this period, it’s essential to give each puppy enough attention so that they can get used to positive interactions with people.

Weaning – Why It Matters

This 6 to 8-week timetable fits when supplemental feeding should be instituted, and final weaning occurs.

It’s crucial that weaning from the mother becomes a regular practice – this is the sure way to keep mothers’ and puppies’ health on the right track.

Abrupt weaning, especially when large litters are involved, results in congestion of the mammary glands, which can be painful and may lead to mastitis, the inflammation of mammary glands.

Can Litter Separation Go Wrong

If you separate puppies from their mother too soon, you can expect a long line of different consequences.

If they are separated too soon from the litter, some health, and behavioral consequences may occur.

Plus, if you wean the puppies off their mother’s milk too abruptly, it will cause congestion of the mother dog’s mammary glands.

This move can lead to mastitis, which is the inflammation of mammary glands, so you are putting the mother directly at risk.

Furthermore, an early puppy separation leads to health and behavioral problems that may occur and follow your puppy right into adulthood, such as:

  • Poor physical condition
  • Decreased weight gain
  • Increased disease susceptibility
  • Decreased learning ability
  • Separation anxiety
  • Decreased learning ability
  • Nervous in nature
  • Possible aggression

Overall, a dog can become more prone to disease and sickness from a lack of mother’s milk.

Good to know: Your puppy may seem depressed after leaving the litter, but that sadness should not be longer than a day or two. As you bond more with your puppy, your Fido will feel safer and more connected to you.

Bringing Puppies Home

It’s common for puppies to spend eight weeks of their lives with their littermates.

They are adjusting together, discovering the world together, sleeping, and eating together.

So, any change can be a huge one when it comes to adjusting to new surroundings.

They may have the best forever home ever, but this is still a significant change for them, and it’s a big adjustment.

They don’t understand why they are alone, and they have no idea where their littermates are, although they probably won’t recognize them later in life.

This is where the breeder’s role is so important – if the breeder socializes them properly, the adjustment will be more effortless.

Once you welcome your puppy home, you will become their ‘parent.’

You can expect your puppy to start crying because the mother is no longer home – this is the adjustment period.

When the puppy is first separated from his mother, he will need a lot of attention and contact from his humans.

Your puppy will likely choose one person to be attached to the most, but you shouldn’t force it, because it will come naturally.

Here are the mandatory steps when it comes to bringing your puppy home.

As you probably know already, you will have to take your puppy to the veterinarian’s office and provide the necessary vaccine, as well as parasite control as needed.

1. Puppy Comfort

Make your puppy feel welcome. Make the surroundings as familiar as possible with the scent of the dog’s littermates, if possible.

The best move would be to place the towel with her littermate’s scent in the crate to comfort the dog.

If you don’t have anything from the dog’s littermates, make the crate as comfortable as possible.

It’s important to place something fluffy with a dog, so he can have a feeling of ownership and develop feelings for something similar.

2. Puppy Play Time

Interact with your dog as littermates would. Puppies usually sleep a lot and play.

Provide periods of exercise and daily activity. When your new puppy sleep, don’t wake him.

Provide toys, and always have a bowl of fresh water.

3. Socialize Your Puppy

Expose your new puppy to early socialization, from day one, and expose him to new smells, sounds, people, and others pets.

When your veterinarian gives you the green light, go outside and visit a doggy park. Keep your puppy on a leash and set some ground rules.

Socialization will make the training process easier, and help you have a well-behaved pet.

Do Puppies Miss Their Littermates: Wrap Up

Having a puppy in your life is such an enjoyable experience. Being a pet owner is so rewarding to experience, as long as you know how serious a role this is.

Pet ownership means that you are responsible and that you are willing to invest your time, money, and energy into raising a healthy and happy puppy.

If you are ready to commit, you will have a true friend who will be next to you no matter what.

Frequenlty Asked Questions On Dogs And Their Littermates

1. Does My Dog Miss His Littermates?

Dogs may remember how their siblings smell, just like they can remember any smell of any other animal.

Still, there is no hard evidence that they will recognize them in years to come if they ever meet them.

Puppies may miss their littermates in the first two to three days, but not in the way humans miss each other.

2. What Are the Signs Of Littermate Syndrome?

Littermate syndrome is a serious behavioral condition that occurs when dogs bond too strongly and are separated at one moment.

Common signs of littermate syndrome are strong anxiety, constant fear of unfamiliar people and unknown places, and even fear of unfamiliar dogs.

3. Is It Better To Get 2 Puppies From The Same Litter?

Littermate syndrome is a serious behavioral condition that occurs when dogs bond too strongly and are separated at one moment.

Common signs of littermate syndrome are strong anxiety, constant fear of unfamiliar people and unknown places, and even fear of unfamiliar dogs.