Brown and black bonded pair of dogs sleeping together

Should I Adopt a Bonded Pair of Dogs?

Shelters periodically take in a pair of dogs at the same time who are very bonded. They may be part of the same litter or two dogs who have been living together for a period of time. If both dogs seem really attached to one another, the shelter will usually try to adopt them out to the same family.

As you search for a potential new furry friend, you may find yourself drawn to adopting bonded pair of dogs who really need a good home. But is it a good idea to adopt both dogs? You may have been only planning for one dog and feel uncertain about having two.

If you have just a little extra space and resources, I recommend that you go for it! Rescuing two bonded dogs from the shelter is a loving and joyous thing to do. They can stay together and you can have double the love! Read more to find out why.

What Is A Bonded Pair of Dogs?

Two bonded pair dogs adopted at different times for same home
Gia and Mini
A bonded pair adopted at different times. Photo by Judy Swayne

Two dogs who have become bonded have usually lived together for a period of time. They are used to each other as companions and playmates. They probably eat together at the same time and may even sleep in the same bed and play with the same toys.

When adopting bonded dogs, your dogs will usually get along well and have honed their social skills with one another. They can be of various ages. Sometimes the oddest matches are made between puppies and mature dogs as well as very small and much larger dogs. Even cats and dogs in the same household can become bonded. Stray dogs can also bond with one another as best pals before finding themselves in a shelter together.

In some cases, bonded dogs are siblings from the same litter who have never been separated and have been together for all of their lives. In rare cases, a pup and his mother may have never been separated and form a lifetime bond, which is hard to break.

But in most cases, bonded pairs are simply two dogs who have lived in the same household together for a long time and have become very connected and devoted to one another. For that reason, shelter staff tries very hard to adopt them out to the same home.

How Do Dogs Become Bonded?

two bonded dogs sleeping in the same bed.
My dogs are sisters and very bonded!

Acceptance, Attachment, and Trust Lead to Love

Acceptance of another dog is one of the strongest basic canine emotions. Feelings of acceptance in two dogs will often lead to attachment, trust, caring, and eventually, love for one another. Generally, these feelings grow over a period of time ranging from 6 months to five years. Common experiences and time can then enhance these attachments leading to bonds that are hard to break.

Littermates

Dogs who have grown up together as pups can become very attached to one another. This will sometimes happen with littermates, but not always. In some cases, littermates can become rivals. With human intervention and training, however, they can learn to get along and even bond over time. I have had two different sets of littermates that I adopted at the same time and they were incredibly bonded with each other.

Dogs from Different Litters

Dogs who have been adopted from separate litters but live in the same household will often bond if they have compatible personalities. They learn to get along and end up doing everything together. Over time they will grow accustomed to each other’s habits and temperaments. They are often trained together and learn the same rules, commands, and human signals from their human family. Therefore, their bond has been enhanced through common experiences and daily life.

Dogs Raised in Stressful Situations

Some dogs who have been raised in neglected or abusive situations may have bonded as a way of protecting one another and providing each other some comfort and companionship. The same is true for strays on the streets who have learned to help one another forage for food and find protective shelter.

Benefits of Adopting a Bonded Pair of Dogs

If you have the little bit of extra space and resources available to adopt two dogs, you will save not only one but two lives. You will also make room for two more pooches who need space so they can find their forever homes as well. Here are the benefits of adopting a bonded pair:

  • They will entertain each other and be less lonely
  • Bonded dogs are great companions for one another
  • Two dogs together will adapt to their new home more easily
  • You will have a bigger canine family
  • Two dogs are more fun to take on outings
  • A bonded pair will have a greater sense of security in their new home
  • They will not need to grieve the loss of each other after losing their home
  • Two dogs are less likely to have as much separation anxiety

When a dog is introduced to a new home it can be very stressful, especially following a stay at a shelter which is also a huge adjustment. But a bonded pair of dogs will have each other for protection and comfort. They don’t know if you will be a friend or foe, so at least having each other will provide some reassurance. Additionally, they will have each other for company when you are gone and will probably be a little less anxious.

When you adopt a bonded pair of dogs, you will discover that two dogs are much more fun to play with. In my home, we all love to play fetch but I find that when I am too busy, they get very creative and find ways to play on their own like chasing each other around the living room as if their lives depended on it!

Is it Ever a Good Idea to Separate Them?

Honestly, I can think of very few reasons to separate a pair of dogs who are truly bonded. Yet, some dogs’ personalities can change as they age due to physical or mental illness. Dogs can also develop memory loss problems like humans. If aggression develops as a result, then that may be a reason to separate the dogs for their own good and for their medical care.

Bonded Pairs Can be Hard to Adopt Out

Sadly, shelters may separate bonded dogs as a last resort when they cannot be adopted out together. This is a good news/bad news scenario. While each dog will get out of the shelter and have a new home, they will miss each other terribly. Yes, dogs do grieve just like us. See this informative article about dogs who mourn from VCAhospitals.com. Yet, also like us, they will heal over time. And being in a home is better than being in a shelter.

My Experience

My current dogs were adopted out together as pups from the same litter. But after five years they were returned to the kennel where they and their Mom had been first rescued when the owner experienced a life change. Tiffanie, the kennel owner, tried for nine months to re-home them. But they were a bit of a handful partly due to their high energy (their Dad was thought to be a Cattle Dog), but also do their anxiety over losing their home and living in a kennel for several months.

Tiffanie was just about to consider adopting them out separately when I called her. I had seen their photo online and had fallen in love with their sweet eyes. After a brief trial run, they became part of my family and we are all very happy together.

A brown dog and a black dog lying head to head at an angle. All worn out!
Charlotte and Georgia still bonded after 9 years!

Final Thoughts

If you can adopt a bonded pair of dogs who need a home, I hope you do! The additional expense and space that are needed are minimal and you will be saving two lives. Lastly, I can’t imagine how sad my dogs would be if they were not together. Every morning they lick the sleep from each other’s eyes just like their Mom used to do. They truly care about each other and I am so happy that I could give them both a second chance!