Will my Shih Tzu puppy get along with a new adult Shih Tzu?
February 7, 2008 7:16 PM   Subscribe

I have a Shih Tzu puppy who is 10 weeks old. An elderly lady I know has an adult Shih Tzu (3 years old) that she is going to have part with due to her and her husband's failing health. She offered to give me the dog. Both dogs are females. Would the two dogs get along? Are there any major concerns I should have? I need to try to make a decision within the next couple of days. Thanks!
posted by mikeo2 to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's hard to say, but same-sex, similar age dogs (and I consider anything closer than 5 years "similar") are your worst possible bet. Your major concern is that the dogs decide they hate each other (and females are FAR worse than males in this regard, females who genuinely hate each other will try to kill each other, and I know more than one person who has had their dogs maim or kill each other, even in breeds which generally like other dogs), and you have to keep them 100% separated 100% of the time for the rest of their lives. This is unlikely to become an issue until the puppy is an adult, so you may well be both lulled into a false sense of security because of two or more years of peaceful, even loving co-existence, and have the older dog long enough to get really attached before same-sex aggression becomes a problem.

People will tell you they will get along, these people do not have personal experience of living with dogs who hate each other (I, unfortunately, do have that experience, and as such will never own same-sex, similar-age dogs ever again, it's like living in jail, the stress is nearly constant, and there were numerous late-night trips to the emergency clinic when the dogs were accidentally allowed out together, and these were males, who are generally less likely to actually want to kill each other than females. It is truly horrible to be actually glad that one of your dogs has died, but this is what happens when you live with dogs who hate each other). If it were me, I would not do it, but if you do choose to do it, you need to be prepared to keep these dogs physically separated from each other permanently should they decide they cannot get along with each other at some point. As always, training, exercise and educated, appropriate, modern (i.e. NOT the so-called Dog Whisperer) dog management methods are your best bet for setting the stage for a peaceful household, but there are no guarantees, and you should be prepared should problems arise. Good luck.
posted by biscotti at 7:46 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

It will depend on the dogs and their individual personalities, but my family has had multiple shih tzus (up to three at a time, two of them girls), and they all got along well. The oldest girl was very good with both puppies when we got them -- a boy, and then a few years later, another girl. That girl puppy is now about nine years old and my folks just got another female puppy, and they love to play together. Big sis is very sweet and tolerant of puppy's antics. So, it can definitely work!

If the two dogs haven't met already, I'd recommend first introducing them to one another at a neutral location (that is, not in either of your households) and see how it goes.
posted by kitty teeth at 7:48 PM on February 7, 2008

I agree with kitty teeth. Introduce them. I have 3 boy pugs and 3 girl pugs, and only a minor scuffle (usually about food) once in a great while. I had 2 of the girls together to start with, similar in age, and they are completely bonded to each other-the best of friends.

But, as biscotti pointed out, there are times when it doesn't work. I would try and see how it goes. Good luck!
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:37 PM on February 7, 2008

When I was young, we had 2 dogs, an older cocker spaniel and a hound, both females. They were both dominants, which created lots of tension, and they would fight if allowed together. We spent three years with perpetually closed doors, though they would go for walks together just fine. Later, after the older dog had died, we got a young rottweiller, who was submissive, and she and the hound got on great.

Follow kitty teeth's advice: meet somewhere neutral, then try it in your house if it goes well. An be prepared to drag the dogs apart if they start fighting. Don't have any food around, as that may spark a confrontation as well, if one decides she must defend her food supply.

Good luck!
posted by Jhoosier at 8:40 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nthing introducing them on neutral ground. You never know with dogs. Sex and age play a role, but they're not dealbreakers in the mysterious equation that determines whether two dogs will get along. I'd try something more easily restrained (someplace without other dogs around, both on leashes) and then if results seem promising, try something more interactive (maybe a dog park, off leashes, see if they'll play with a new toy together).
posted by Tehanu at 9:27 PM on February 7, 2008

I think the most important thing you can do is to show your 3 year old dog that the puppy is an accepted new member of your pack. The problem most people have is putting 2 strange dogs together and expecting them to get along from the git-go. An establihed family dog will view the new pup as an intruder, and act aggresively. It's only doing its job, in the pack hiearchy, proving itself by defending you against outsiders.
But, if you get down on the ground and pet the new puppy, in view of the older dog, the chances are better they will accept each other. If you are the "alpha" dog, your dog will know that if you are cool with the puppy, she will know she should be also. Go slowly, no rough house for a few days, or the older dog will mis-interpret your advances towards the new dog.
I have 3 male dogs (all neutered) that get along great. I always hold a new dog in my lap when I bring in my old dogs . They think its a new baby of mine or something, and instinctively know not to mess with it.
Take Luck!
posted by Acacia at 1:59 AM on February 8, 2008

Best answer: It very much depends on the individual dogs. In this case it depends mostly on how well the three year old dog has been socialized up to now to accept and interact positively with other dogs. Some elderly dog owners can be sort of isolated and can't get their dogs out into the wide world, and the result is a little pushy territorial suspicious "one-person dog."

At three years, Older Pup is an adult with established behavior patterns, and as an "only dog" up to now will probably be the more dominant of the two and used to calling the shots. So if she hasn't spent any significant time around other dogs, she might be quite hostile or not really know how to act. So I'd try to find out as much about her history as possible before giving it a try.

On the upside, if Older Pup is well-adjusted, has experience with other dogs and generally gets along with them, Baby Pup is unlikely to present any attitude problems (although it's vaguely possible if she happens to be very dominant by nature). When a tiny baby pup is introduced to an adult dog, it typically adopts a submissive, subordinate role (out of survival instinct) -- at least at first, and usually for good. If Older Dog is quite submissive, then sometimes later as Baby Pup reaches adolescence, there will be some jockeying for position or outright nasty challenges -- and there's no way for you to predict that until it happens.

Most adult dogs are programmed to give tiny pups a lot of "annoyance latitude" until they're four or five months old; they let them get away with obnoxious behavior that the older dog would not tolerate from a "peer" because they instinctually know that new pups don't know the rules of how to be a dog yet and need to practice. However, everyone has limits, and Baby Pup will push that envelope and can be very annoying indeed to Older Dog. The danger is that until they're four or five months old, new pups cannot reliably read some warning signs of dominance/aggression that adult dogs broadcast when they're getting tired of being bugged -- or protecting a treasured toy, etc.

So even if the two become instant lifelong pals, you do have to supervise them like a hawk every waking moment when Baby Pup is young, and make sure that you neutralize any potential fight-causing issues (remove any toys that create hostility, put distance between dog dishes and don't allow one to steal from the other, don't let the one corner the other in an extremely confined space, etc. Make sure they get lots of long walks together, and don't show favoritism and give them equal affection, but when you feed, groom, etc., do the more dominant, "higher" dog first.

I never leave any of my five adult dogs (who are like a big loving litter) alone together uncrated, ever. Not ever. The closest they get is being out in the yard without me for maybe ten minutes tops, and even that is unusual. There are a lot of bizarre unpredictable stimuli (pain, shock, strange dog approaching their "turf") that can sometimes spark aggression even among dogs who adore each other and routinely sleep in one big pile, so if you have multiple dogs, you need to be prepared for that possibility.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:44 AM on February 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Whoops, if you do take on Dog #2, then it's even more essential than usual that both dogs be neutered in order to coexist peacefully. In fact, if the three year old female is not neutered already, I'd probably take a pass. But owning two intact females of a spunky breed? Bad, bad, bad idea.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:52 AM on February 8, 2008

I personally wouldn't hesitate to take the second dog, but then I'm not familiar with the breed. Or any pure bred dog for that matter. I can only offer anecdotal information: I have three dogs. The oldest is 8, a female mutt I rescued as an 8 week old puppy. When she was 1 year old I found the female second dog abandoned and lost on the side of the road with injuries. Second Dog was about 8 months old or so but that is just a guess. She wasn't over a year for sure. They are both female and about the same age and they have *always* gotten along splendidly. They adore one another and watching them play has always been a source of happiness for me because they seem to have so. much. fun.

Third dog was introduced three years ago as a puppy, also mutt, also female, with no problems at all. House training was the easiest thing ever because the older two showed her what to do, I think. I don't know for sure. All I know is that I cleaned up maybe two pee spots for her.
posted by hecho de la basura at 7:02 AM on February 8, 2008

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