Canine Maternal Instincts and Bonding

Kelly Roper
Yorkie mom and pups

Just how closely does a bitch bond with her pups, and where does that bond end?

How Deep Are Canine Maternal Instincts?

Does a female dog remember her puppies?

~~ Hilda,

Expert Reply

Hi Hilda,

That's an interesting question, and it depends on a couple of factors.

First, dogs recognize each other primarily by scent. Sight is a secondary sense with this species. If a female has only been separated from her pups for a short time, they will likely still carry enough of their original scent for her to recognize them. As time goes on, the pups will carry other scents that mingle with their original essence, and this could make them more difficult for their mother to recognize.

Second, some breeds have far more developed olfactory systems than others. A Bloodhound or a Basset would be more likely to recognize a familiar scent than a Shih Tzu or a Pug. So this also plays a role in recognition.

The previous factors aside, some females do seem to have an instant recognition of one of their pups years after the pup has gone to a new home. Others do not. It really depends on each female.

Thanks for your question.

~~ Kelly

Canine Maternal Instincts and Bonding