The answer is not completely clearcut, unfortunately, but we will do our best to explain the different theories regarding this question.
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Signs of a Dog Remembering a Sibling
Theoretically, if your dog were to come into contact with a sister a few months or years down the road, they may not recognize the other dog as a sibling, but they may remember their scent very well and feel immediately safe and comfortable with the other dog. This is because the other dog's scent is familiar. Dogs who have a scent memory may be able to feel more comfortable with a sibling than with another dog, however, this is not always the case.
You can tell if your dog can potentially remember a sibling if they come in contact with a family member and seem to react to them differently than any other dog they have never met. For instance, they may sniff them more intently, seem more calm and comfortable with them, be alert and seem interested in their presence. On the other hand, your dog may not be able to recognize their sibling and not react any differently than they would with meeting another dog, and this is not an uncommon reaction.
- Wag tail
- Very Attentive Behavior
- Staying Close to Other Dog
- Acting Calm
History of Dogs Recognizing Their Siblings
For instance, if a child is adopted when they are first born, they will not have any remembrance of their actual parents. If they meet their parents, unknowingly, later in life, there is a chance the child will have no idea who those people actually are - and the same thing can happen with dogs and their pack as well.
Some stories of people meeting up with their dog's littermates later in life have mixed experiences. Some dogs seem to get along very well with their siblings, sniffing each other a lot, and getting right into playing without any conflict because it seems as though they know each other in a way. On the other hand, some people actually say their dogs were more likely to fight, growl, and bark at their siblings.
Science Behind Dogs Recognizing Their Siblings
However, this is generally only the case for puppies who spent their critical socialization period with their siblings from when they were born to about 16-weeks old. Most puppies will go home and be separated from their siblings at 6 weeks of age. However, if they were with their siblings longer, they may be able to identify them down the road.
Firstly, a dog's nose is about 10,000 times more sensitive than a human's, so it is very probable they can identify a sibling through their smell. Furthermore, there have been studies done that seem to suggest dogs have the ability to recognize and remember specific faces when tested. This means that if a dog can remember and act more excited when they see their owner's face, compared to when the owner's face is covered, there is a possibility that a dog can remember the face of a sibling of the same species. If your dog had a particularly close bond with a sibling, this can also mean they will have the ability to remember their sibling years down the road. However, this is all based on theory, and there is no proven evidence to confirm these beliefs.
DNA may also play a role. Dogs have DNA just like humans do, so it may be in their DNA to never breed with a family member, which means they have the ability to recognize a family member/sibling. Evolutionary theorists contend all living animals are pre-programmed to make sure their DNA survives for the next generation of a family. So, in theory, it is possible your dog may be able to recognize and protect their DNA when they come in contact with a sibling. Although, this only matters if your dog is actually able to identify the other dog as a sibling first.
Overall, there is no way to know for sure whether your dog can recognize their siblings or not. This may change depending on how advanced science becomes, but it can also be inferred with observing how your pup reacts when meeting a sibling later in life.
How To React If Your Dog Recognizes a Sibling:
Take a cute video!
Give them space to play.
Let them sniff each other.
Safety Tips for Dogs Remembering Their Siblings:
Make sure there is no aggression/competition.
Don't let them play unattended.