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Old 09-17-2012, 03:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default liter mate aggression

18 years ago we raised 2 female litermates and they were the best dogs so we decided we wanted to do it again. We now have 2 - 6 month old females (Sugar and Spice) that we got at 8 weeks. My husband and I both work so we have a kennel-type setup in our garage where the dogs share an area inside that contains 2 dog houses, 2 bowls of food and water. There is also a doggie door that leads to an enclosed outside area. This is the same place we kept the first 2 dogs. We have gone through the same obedience training as our first pair and they were doing great until about a month ago. Sugar has decided that Spice can no longer come into the inside part of the garage. When Spice attempts to go through the dog door Sugar growls and shows her teeth. Spice backs down and stays outside until we intervene and hold Sugar so that Spice can get through the door. Once she is inside, she stays there. We have 25 acres of open area that they run and play in during the evening hours and on weekends. During this time they are fine together, they get in a pool together, they lay down beside each other and chew rawhide, they even drink out of the same water bowl at the same time. We have tried moving one of the water bowls and one of the food bowls to the outside part of the enclosure but that hasn't changed anything. I'm beginning to think that they cannot live together and we may have to let one go. Also Spice's ear are not standing up and I'm wondering if this is anxiety related.

Michelle
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Old 09-17-2012, 04:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What you had with your first pair is rare-litter mate aggression is very common, especially with females. Most breeders won't sell litter mates for that reason. I have a friend with senior sisters and he says they're "still going at it" at their age. A trainer may be able to help you out with your situation. As for Spice's ear, that is usually a genetic issue. You can study the "Ears up" threads for suggestions. Good luck.
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Old 09-17-2012, 04:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I think you need to halve their areas, and put in another doggy door. Keep them separate, except while you are right there with them, and stay on top of any problems. Spaying may help as that will remove the heat cycles and extra hormones during that time.

I can usually leave littermates together for several months, sometimes over a year. But especially when you are going to keep them intact, it is just safer to keep females apart unless you are right there, and they are not having any problems.
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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This is so common that there's a term for it: "Littermate Syndrome". Female littermates are the worst and can end up in bloody battles. You got very lucky the first time you raised littermates together.

I would spay both of them; sometimes this can alleviate the hormonal aggression some females display during their heat cycles. This may or may not help, but they should be spayed anyway.

If the aggression continues or escalates, the best thing to do for all parties is to re-home one of the sisters, preferably the dominant one, as that personality type tends to adapt better to change.

Once females start fighting, it can become VERY serious and is not something to mess around with. Right now, it seems that one of your dogs is submissive to the other, which is actually good...but she may not remain submissive. Should she decide to stand up for herself, you may have a bloody battle on your hands, so don't push matters or try to make things "fair" between the two of them. It will ony make things worse if you punish the dominant female or give the submissive one extra attention and goodies because you feel sorry for her.
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Spice will never develop to her potential while the sister is there....it could well affect the ear standing.....one of them needs to go!(in all fairness I would move the stronger to a very nice home)
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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As an aside, there is a whole another school of thought that would let Spice start over somewhere fresh and probably as a single family dog. Both ways have merit but, I dont think this is fair to Spice right now.
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you for all the responses. The dogs are spayed, I forgot to mention that in my posting. I wish I had read about litter mate syndrome 6 months ago. My husband and I are discussing our options and it does seem that one, probably Sugar, will have to go. I feel like a failure, but I want the dogs to be happy.

Michelle
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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To everyone out there, considering getting two females, two puppies, I hope they read this.
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