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Rebecca, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15583
Experience:  More than 30 years of companion animal practice.
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We have 2 rescue pugs. Rosie is 7 and we've had her years.

Customer Question

We have 2 rescue pugs. Rosie is 7 and we've had her for 5 years. She's neutered. We took in Beulah, who had been abused, when she was 1 year old. She is now 3 and also spayed. All of a sudden they have started fighting every time they see each other. They used to be such buddies. Help??
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.


I am sorry to hear about Beulah and Rosie not getting along. I am a veterinarian and will do my best to help.

This is a sad, but not uncommon situation that we see. Two female dogs, living together, but when the younger one becomes emtionally and socially mature, around 2 to 3 years of age, if she decides she wants to be "top dog" she starts to challenge the older female. Sometimes the older female gives way and accepts the younger as the new boss. If she does not give up her status to the younger dog, and the younger dog does not accept her as the higher status member of the "pack", then they fight over anything that dogs consider marks of ownership or status: sleeping places, who goes through a door first, access to " resources" (which can be food, toys, a used Kleenex, or even access to you and other human members of the pack).

This is a very difficult situation, because we humans can't make them get along. They will alway be challenging each other, unless one agrees to be submissive, and unfortunately that rarely happens.

I work with a breeder and trainer and since I never have found any hope for this situation of two spayed females not getting along and she also said that female/female aggression is the one behavior problem she has no answer for.

If I had two females in this situation, I would either find a home for one of them, or would start to live with them separated. The one thing I do that sometimes helps won't work with Pugs: I put a head collar like a Gentle Leader or Promise collar on them, with a long light lead attached, at all times, so I can pull them apart the minute something starts, but these collars do not fit dogs with short faces.

This is so typical of this problem: used to be great buddies, and then suddenly when the younger female hits 2 or 3 years, they start to fight. I wish I had a quick and sure fire answer for you, but I have worked with dozens of dog owners in this situation, and it always ended with one dog seriously hurt, or rehomed. I have tried behavior modification, drug therapy (usually just makes it worse), and sending them to veterinarians who specialize in behavior and the outcome has always been the same.

Sorry to be the messenger of bad news, but I have to be honest. Let me know what else I can help with or answer. Rebecca

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am not at all pleased or satisfied with this response. I'm a social worker who deals with troubled children and their families. If one of my parent clients described a similar situation with 2 of their children, do you think I'd advise them to put one into foster care or up for adoption? I am not equating dogs with children but your glib reply to what is an agonizing problem for my family is not at all helpful. These dogs have suffered enough in their previous homes. I think it's mean to suggest that I add to that suffering. I have no intention of paying for this unhelpful response.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
Children do not live in packs with a strict social hierarchy, as dogs do.
I think you can keep them both, but they will have to be supervised, or kept apart, and you still will have to be prepared to deal with fights. I sure wish I could give you another answer, but I have dealt with this situation multiple times over 30 years, and the results have always been the same. Every expert I talk to, tells me the same thing as well.
I will be happy to opt out. Another expert can try help you if I do, but only if you don't respond to or rate my answer; doing so will discourage another expert from helping you.
Or I can contact the moderators for you and your deposit will be returned.
My sincere apologies if I offended you. Rebecca
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Children do live within a strict societal structure with its own hierarchy. That is why bullies flourish and lead their own little "packs"; it's why the gang culture is so prominent and pervasive in our culture. Neither children nor dogs should be ousted. Please do contact the moderators. I am disappointed with this service and want a refund.