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Male on Male Aggression

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  • Information from DPCA Breeders Education Q&A Page:
    Source: Q & A Archives 2003 Page 1 - DPCA Breeders Education
    Q: from Jackie
    Date: 08 Apr 2003
    Time: 14:20:40

    Comments: problems with two males

    I have two littermates brothers age 1 and 1/2 years. I have a problem with aggression. The larger one 99% of the time is fine. He will growl at the other when he's in his crate. He will attack and not let up when the other submits. He has been dripping pee when the other comes near or if the other gets a bone or toy or attention from someone. He has been diagnosed with hypothyroid 3 days ago.

    Do you think the behavior will improve? I read the aggression can come from the low thyroid.

    Any tips on training? I would hate to have to give one away to a family member.

    Also my last Doberman had low thyroid and died 6 months later at age 5 from cardiomyopathy. I am scared this could happen to my dog who is his half brother with the same dad.

    A: from Judy Doniere, Toledobes, USA

    At first glance on reading your post I thought you said the dogs' ages were eleven and a half but I see
    that they are one and a half years old. That makes a huge difference.

    First of all, you should NEVER try to keep two males together. They WILL fight and may eventually kill each other or be so badly hurt that they may not recover. I'm scaring you purposely because I don't want to see this happen nor do I want to see you get torn apart trying to break up a fight.

    UNLESS you are going to keep them totally separate the rest of their lives, never having them in contact with each other, you should place one of the dogs. This issue is not going to get better, only much worse.

    As to the dripping urine. Take the dog to the Vet immediately. While it's rather early for a prostate problem, it's possible. It is also possible for the dog to have a kidney or urinary tract infection and he should be seen IMMEDIATELY. Simply collect a urine sample from the dog and take him in to the Vet as quickly as you can.

    You didn't spell the Thyroid problem correctly. It's either Hypothyroid or Hyperthyroid. There is a big difference. If the dog is put on medication prescribed by the Vet, he may be fine. Yes, it can cause symptoms of aggression but that isn't the main reason. The main and simplest reason is because they are males.

    I would hope you have both males neutered if you are not showing in Conformation. This would help if the urinating is caused by the Prostate.

    Additionally, at this point in time it has not been proven that Thyroid problems cause Cardiomyopathy.

    *** *** ***

    A: from Marj Brooks, Manorie Dobermans, USA

    It is recommended that a person should not keep two male Dobermans together unless they have the facilities to keep them separated and can figure out a way to keep them so that both males can keep their dignity (for the lack of a better word). Each dog MUST get equal individual time with the human family as well.

    One day the submissive one will stand up for himself and you will have a huge dog fight. Your situation is a simply bad accident waiting to happen.

    In my opinion giving thyroid will not change the completely normal behavior of an alpha male towards another male or any other male dogs for that matter. I would recommend that you do place one of them into the home of your family member. This will ensure both males a happier life, however long that it may be.

    *** *** ***

    A: from Bug Russell, USA

    Before I even start out I'll tell you that I think you did as many things wrong as could be possible and are doomed to failure from the get-go.

    First of all I NEVER EVER keep two dogs of the same age -- litter mates, not litter mates -- makes no difference. I think this is just asking for trouble, particularly with same sex dogs -- it is, among other things, a guaranteed way to make sure neither dog gets what they need in terms of attention, training etc. Dogs need different things at different ages and there are far fewer problems if they are NOT the same age and from what I've seen, littermates have MORE, not fewer problems in the same household than dogs that aren't litter mates.

    You don't say how long you've been having problems with aggression but 18 months is the point at which most males seem to hit a maturity level that causes aggression that hasn't been there before. I also get the impression that both of these dogs are intact. They should have been neutered young if you intended to keep them both.

    It also isn't clear which dog is the aggressor but that doesn't make much difference I guess. If one dog is being crated, then it should be done in an area that does not allow the other dog to get near the crate in order to threaten the crated dog. Allowing that is simply asking for more problems. Fear aggression and refusal to accept submission is a disaster waiting to happen. Even without the next item in the list of problems I personally would not even be considering continuing to keep both of these dogs in the same household.

    Hyperthyroidism will certainly affect temperament and behavior and it won't really be possible to tell just how much of the issue is from the thyroid problem and how much is from the level of dominance between these two dogs until the hyperthyroid dog has been on meds for some while.

    Even though some same sex aggression is owner induced there are definitely dogs who simply are same sex aggressive no matter what you do. I am very careful about what puppies I choose to keep in my all male dog collection. I do not EVER keep a male puppy beyond a very young age (6 months max) that I think may be even remotely dog aggressive.

    If I were going to try to keep two males, from the same litter, not neuter them, crate one while the other was loose and in a position to harass the crated dog I would have started said training a long, long time ago. Using a lot more common sense and neutering the dogs immediately would have been my start.

    With caution being the better part of valour, I'd be trying to give one of these dogs away to a family member NOW! I think trying to keep these two dogs together now that there is an existing history of trouble between them is very much a lost cause. Someone is likely to get hurt in the process -- if it is only one of the dogs I think YOU will be very lucky. However, it's just as likely to be the human who tries to break up an inevitable fight.

    I have not read any studies that document a link between cardiomyopathy and hyperthyroidism. They can both run in lines and the fact that the dog is a half brother (same sire) to a dog who was both hyperthyroid and had some sort of cardiomyopathy (probably DCM if he died at 5) would be the concern to me. We all know that cardio can skip around in all sorts of ways and may or may not show up in the puppies sired by or out of a particular dog. Frankly I think there is a more identifiable link with

    Having said all of this, my bottom line is that I WOULD NOT attempt to keep these two males under the circumstances that you have described. As I stated earlier, if you had intended to keep the brothers I'd have started out very differently, certainly by neutering both of them very young.

Another DPCA link to male/male discussion:

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Last edited by melbrod; 07-23-2013 at 11:39 PM.
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