This video features a 7-week old Siberian Husky puppy meeting his dad for the first time. A lot of sniffing went down; even the family cat made a special appearance. The puppy looks just like his father! This family reunion looks so adorable.
But can puppies really recognize their parents?
The answer is “It depends”. The first 16 weeks of a puppy’s life is the most critical period because the puppy’s experiences during this time shape the adult dog it will eventually become. If the puppy grows up and can recognize its parents in the future, it probably formed a strong bond with them during this crucial period. Since father dogs often are not present during this period, adult dogs are more likely to recognize their mothers than their fathers. However, when puppies are taken too early from the litter, complete imprinting does not occur and the mother dog will not recognize her offspring and vice versa.
Do father dogs have paternal instincts?
It is known fact that dogs are descendants of wolves and father wolves are recognized for being attentive, monogamous and very protective of their mates and pups; but due to the many years of domestication, the male dog’s paternal instincts got lost along the process. Male dogs no longer need to hunt and provide food for their offspring because their owners does that for them. So, in a sense, humans have taken over their roles as fathers to their pups.
Father dogs may show signs of caring. As the pups grow and walk about, they will most likely won’t attack the puppies. They may show a certain feeling of benevolence towards the pups and sometimes even play with them. But overall, they remain quite indifferent. Yes, a father dog may play with his offspring but that interest isn’t different from the interest shown toward other non-related pups.