This is a question most, if not all, animal parents tend to ask themselves, and with good reason! The short answer is: no one knows for sure. Many scientists disagree or agree on whether dogs can or cannot recognize their siblings.
There are studies that support this claim, just as there are studies that don’t. Long story short, we all wanna know, but we don’t know yet! The keyword here is yet. But don’t be discouraged, there is a lot of information that points to the answer being yes. Read more and decide what you think!
Is There any Scientific Evidence?
According scientific research, it is possible that the dogs have memories for their siblings. Image source: baywoof.com
Although there are varying theories, Steven R. Lindsy believes it is actually possible. However, this is most likely limited to those puppies that were at least 16 weeks old when separated, given that it covers their critical socialization period, which they will remember.
It is important to note that usually the puppies are separated at the age of 6 weeks, 10 weeks short of the critical socialization point. It is also important though to remember their noses are much more powerful (around 10,000 times more) than ours, which can make it easier for them to recognize their siblings.
Another theory suggests that due to their DNA, dogs might be able to recognize their family members to avoid breeding with them. According to multiple evolutionary theorists, animals might have the instinct of knowing when an animal from its same species is part of its family.
This theory can be highly debated, as many animals do breed among family members, including dogs, but remember these are all still just theories. There are multiple studies you can also check out on whether dogs remember their siblings!
How can you Tell?
Even if your dog is shy at first around the dog you believe is its sibling, they might warm up to them once they sniff them. Of course, this all depends on whether they recognize them or not. Some signs that they do can include immediate playing and excitement after sniffing the other dog, the dogs sniff each other more than usual and a lot of tail wagging.
They also tend to stay close to each other as much time as possible, they constantly stare at the other and they are alert on each others location. You can also tell by learning more about dogs’ body language!
What Do they Feel?
Just like a human might feel when they see a stranger, they might feel anxious at first. However, something might click for them once they sniff them, just like when you remember a person by their voice or their face, or maybe nothing will, like when you see a person that seems to know you but you can’t seem to remember them! Despite the click happening and the excitement (and tail wagging) increasing, it is not likely that they feel any type of bond towards their siblings.
The most likely scenario is that they recognize them but see them more as an old friend, although “their behavior is a lot more open than if it was a new friend”, according to Ph.D. animal behaviorist Suzanne Hetts.
What should you do?
Do not attempt to bring them closer together nor rush them into interacting. Give them their own time to interact and their own space. This does not mean to leave them unattended, but simply to let them do their own thing! They will either recognize each other or not, but either way, they might become friends.
Do not get impatient either, they might take a long time sniffing each other or might approach each other extremely slowly. Don’t worry about it, they will get there eventually, on their own time. Remember that your dog can sense if you’re feeling impatient, and this might interrupt the moment.
All in all, enjoy it! After all, it’s always a special moment when your dog makes a new friend, or even more, reconnects with their siblings! Try talking to the other dog’s owner, if you don’t know them, you might just end up with a new friend yourself!
Did you form your own opinion after reading? Even if scientists have not been able to figure out whether their various theories about this topic are correct or not, it is doubtful they will give up on finding the answer. After all, it might take long, but in the end, we will find out!
Meanwhile, let your pets make friends with their siblings, whether they are aware of their DNA bond or not. And don’t forget to enjoy spending time with your pet and its sibling as well. You might find a new buddy for your buddy!