Not every two puppies placed into a home at the same time will have littermate syndrome; however, it is a big risk and in my opinion (and many veterinarians, behaviorists, and trainers) is not worth it.
*A reputable malamute breeder will NEVER place two malamute puppies of the same sex in the same home together*
Bringing home littermates or adding two puppies to your family within a short time frame tends to result in “littermate syndrome”. Littermate syndrome can present itself as a host of undesirable behaviors; this includes aggression between the puppies, mild to severe anxiety when faced with new things, and co-dependence. This is seen all the time by trainers, behaviorists, and vets, and can result in needing to separate or rehome one of the puppies. Littermate syndrome can apply to ANY two puppies that are raised together, even if they are different breeds. The words “puppies and littermates” are used throughout this article to describe two puppies that are raised together and their behaviors or experiences at any point during their life.
Raising two puppies together correctly is not easier because they get into more trouble together and need to have time away from the other (separate alone time, separate time with their owner, separate training time, separate time in the car, separate time meeting new people and dogs, etc.)
If you would like to get two puppies, I recommend waiting about 12 months before adding a second puppy to your home. The first puppy will be potty trained, know basic obedience, and have some house manners by this time so you can focus on training and socializing the second puppy correctly. The first puppy will ideally also be a good teacher for the second. Despite a small age difference between these puppies they should still become best friends assuming they have compatible personalities.
Research done by guide dog organizations has shown that unrelated puppies when placed in a home together will develop some form of littermate syndrome. Their research also showed that one of the puppies always becomes unsuitable to be a guide dog even when both of them were top candidates before being placed together. When they placed two outgoing and bold puppies in the same home, one always ended up being shy and both puppies were often very co-dependent. (Paws4udogs 2012)
I have seen many cases of littermate syndrome ranging from mild to severe. Mild cases normally result in the puppies/dogs experiencing anxiety when separated and not getting along with other dogs. In some cases these dogs have to be medicated when separated because they become so upset and destructive. Most people may not consider this a problem; however, if one of the dogs needs to be hospitalized, it becomes a big issue.
More severe cases include the dogs getting into fights with each other and the dogs and/or owners becoming injured. These dogs can also be fearfully aggressive with unknown dogs or people. Without the correct help, the problem escalates, and the dogs either needs to be separated in the same home or one of them ends up being rehomed (or placed in a shelter).
Below are expert accounts of why raising two young puppies together is “a disaster waiting to happen”.
Dr. Ian Dunbar who is veterinarian and dog behaviorist says “Raising sibling dogs is a disaster waiting to happen because they don’t get socialized to other dogs or people. Many owners assume that the dogs’ interactions with one another are adequate, but when the puppies are older and meet an unfamiliar dog in a novel setting, they freak out. Raising two puppies is more than twice the work; it`s exponential.” Dunbar also states “One of the key lessons a puppy must learn is how to be content by itself and that`s not possible if you have two puppies.”
Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist Dr. McConnell, PhD says "Littermates are so busy playing with each other (or squabbling), that you become the odd man out... It seems harder to get their attention, harder to teach them emotional control and harder to teach them boundaries. I`ve seen some nasty cases of bullying or outright aggression between dogs of the same litter.”
Behavior specialist Nicole Wilde says “The littermate syndrome problems are rooted in hyper-attachment, which leads to hindered social development and communication issues. People assume that having two same-age pups that live together covers their dog-dog socialization needs, but they don’t learn how other dogs play and have no idea about dog social skills.”
If you`d like more information, feel free to google "why you shouldn`t get littermates", there are pages upon pages of veterinarians, trainers, and behaviorists who have written about this topic and share their personal experiences.
Paws 4 you. "Littermate Syndrome." Paws Abilities, 2012,
Stalling, Jeff. “Don’t Take Two Puppies: Littermate Syndrome in Dogs.” The Bark, Mar. 2020, thebark.com/content/dont-take-two-littermates.