Dogs are complex creatures, which is evident regarding paternity issues. Male dogs appear to treat puppies like adults and don’t exhibit a strong sense of protection over them. This cause many people to ask: “do dog fathers raise their puppies?”
Do Dog Fathers Recognize Their Puppies?
Dog families only stay together for a short time. Would a couple of meetings throughout the puppy’s early weeks be enough to create a bond, a memory, or something to make the male dog know his puppies? We don’t believe so.
Researchers have found that mothers can create a bond with their puppies, picking up on scent clues years down the line that the puppy is theirs. Mother dogs are very tender, caring, and protective towards their puppies. Father dogs are often said to be uninterested in raising their young.
We also assume that dogs will not recognize their offspring because dogs do not adhere to fundamental social principles. For example, a male dog could try to mate with his mother if placed in the same room.
It is also normal to think that a dog knows his puppies by playing with them; however, the behavior you see is not indicative of a father dog knowing his puppies. Dogs play with other dogs because it is in their nature, not because they care which puppies are theirs.
A father canine needs to spend meaningful time with his pups right from birth to recognize them as his own. A 2013 study published in Animal Cognition shows that dogs have long-term memory thus it stands to reason that they may know their puppies. However, it depends on many things, such as how long they have been separated. If they did recall, it could be comparable to a human seeing a stranger on the street and not understanding at first that this was a long-lost friend.
Do Male Dogs Have Paternal Instincts?
Wolves are known to be excellent parents, with male wolves, in particular, playing a vital role in raising their pups. For example, the male Gray Wolf brings food to his mate so that she can focus on nurturing the newborn litter.
Male wolves are extremely protective of their pups, protecting them at all costs, and they teach the young cubs crucial survival skills. How did male canines become aloof from their pups? Well, we likely have ourselves to blame. Humans assume many of the roles that dogs would otherwise fill. We also give safe homes for puppies, which allows them to receive all the benefits of being part of a family.
According to Carlo Siracusa, director of the animal behavior service at the University of Pennsylvania’s Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, male dogs lack the parental instincts and abilities of their wolf ancestors. He says that puppies of feral dogs have a poorer survival rate than wolves because the father does not help guard the litter.
He also explains that we have taken their inherent social skills and adjusted them so the dog can converse with humans. Additionally, he mentioned that some research has shown that dogs tend to be better at socializing with humans than other dogs. The cost of breeding dogs to be less social with one another and more social with us is that some of their cooperative behavior, such as co-parenting, may have vanished.
Male dogs are only sometimes present when their puppies are born. As a result, it is not surprising that their paternal instincts differ from those of wolves. However, their love for camaraderie and group engagement remains.
How Do Father Dogs React With Their Puppies
All male dogs are different from their puppies. Some are affectionate, while others are aggressive, so it is important to approach them carefully when you first meet them. When father dogs meet their puppies for the first time, they exhibit various characteristics:
Even though it’s rare, some father dogs will show affection for and help take care of their young. They care greatly for their puppies, grooming and carrying them around in their mouths.
Many dog owners believe that their dog’s father can recognize his offspring. Soft-natured dogs tend to be the first to notice a puppy in need and rush to protect it because of their natural empathy, not any parental instincts.
Some dogs are jealous of new puppies because they receive less attention from their owners. This might result in direct or indirect aggressiveness on the part of a male towards the mother and pups.
The jealousy between some male dogs and puppies can result in physical aggression. Even though they don’t mean to harm the puppies, some males will interfere with their relationships by stepping on them. Mother dogs fiercely protect their pups and won’t hesitate to attack a male dog who goes too close.
In dog families, the father sometimes displays envy through avoidance. He might leave the room or avoid the puppies entirely. If he is pouty and wants attention, make sure he knows that he is still a member of the family by showering him with love and attention.
Many father dogs fail to bond with their puppies because they lack the paternal urge that compels them to care for them. They pay no attention to their puppies or show no interest in communicating with them. Although this behavior looks harsh to us, it is the most common response for father dogs and poses no threat to the puppies.
Should I Keep the Father Dog Away From Its Puppies?
If a pregnant dog’s mate is around before, during, or after birth, he can pass along a fatal infection. Canine herpes is a very innocuous virus that produces mild illness in most adult dogs. Still, it can cause miscarriage in pregnant dogs and death in puppies.
According to the Veterinary Partner: The Pet Health Library: Pregnant Dog Care, a male dog must be kept away from his female mate and the puppies for up to three weeks after birth so he doesn’t spread an infection that could harm them.
After this period, it is beneficial for the puppies to meet the father dog. They will learn how to interact with other dogs, socialize, and develop into well-rounded creatures. For this to happen, they should meet gradually and have time to play and interact.
To protect the puppies from harm, you should only let the father dog interact with them if he does not exhibit any sign of violence, reluctance, or rejection. It is also important that the male be healthy and free of diseases. You should follow updated vaccination schedules and updated parasitic deworming treatments, as this will reduce the chance of contaminating susceptible neonates, which may cause developmental disorders.
A male dog’s presence alone does not replace other socialization aspects, and many puppies will develop normally without it. However, introducing the male dog to puppies provides an early opportunity to help create trust between them.
The natural fatherly instincts of a dog play little to no role in raising their puppies. This does not imply that they are incapable of caring for or loving their puppies. Still, it simply isn’t part of their innate nature, and there’s usually nothing wrong with that.