In the human world, siblings often grow up under the same roof and share a special bond throughout their lives. But what about the dogs? Are quadrupeds able to recognize their relatives from whom they were separated a few days after birth?
Do dogs feel an innate bond with their siblings?
Although there is no concrete evidence to suggest that sibling dogs can recognize each other later in life, Stephen R. Lindsay, author of the book “Handbook of Applied Dog and Cat Behavior and Training,” suggests that it is actually not impossible. According to Lindsey, it’s not out of the question that a quadruped could recognize its parents, siblings, even people it interacted with in the first months of its life and then hasn’t seen for years. All this provided that they were together during the critical phase of socialization – between the third and the 16th week of his life.
Although it sounds logical, there are exceptions to this theory. Pups who were separated before the 16-week mark are unlikely to recognize each other later in life if they don’t meet for the first six or seven years afterwards, experts say.
A dog’s nose remembers
It is possible for a dog to recognize a sibling by smell, the American Kennel Club writes. Our pets’ sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times superior to that of humans, so perhaps it’s this unique ability that allows our furry companions to detect a littermate they haven’t seen or met in years.
Does shared DNA play a role?
As in humans, relatives in the canine world share similar DNA, and it is possible that this factor prevents (in some cases) an animal from mating with a sibling. According to evolutionary theorists, all living things are innately programmed to behave in such a way as to ensure the survival and transmission of our genetic material to the next generation. Therefore, individuals of all species will look after their blood relatives first. Which in turn suggests that non-human species not only recognize, but prefer and help members of their own family.
In dogs, this theory is a bit more complicated to apply. For in order to prefer their brothers and sisters to others, they must first recognize them.
Are there signs that a dog has recognized its relatives in a chance meeting?
If your dog accidentally (or with your help) encounters a relative and recognizes it, it may spend more time sniffing it. Although not universal to all quadrupeds, some of the signs that a quadruped has recognized its relatives may include playful nudging, sniffing of the muzzle and mouth, circling, friendly body language and invitations to play, tail wagging.
In some dogs, different behavior is observed if they recognize a sibling, as well as when meeting a parent (mother or father) – they can “freeze” in place, remain motionless and gasp for air.
However, the truth of the matter is that no one knows for sure whether a dog recognizes another four-legged friend as its sibling. Maybe one day we will be able to find out if our pet actually feels the blood connection it has with another animal. But until that happens, we can only make our best guesses.
Photo by Blue Bird: https://www.pexels.com/photo/unrecognizable-woman-walking-dogs-on-leashes-in-countryside-7210754/