How to Tell Which Puppy is Dominant in the Litter

How to Tell Which Puppy is Dominant in the Litter

Want to know how to tell which puppy is dominant in the litter? It isn’t always obvious. You might think the top dog one would be the biggest one of the group, but that isn’t always the case. The biggest dog isn’t always the alpha male or female. Attitude matters more than size. They all try to dominate litter mates and playmates, even those of different breeds and sizes. Establishing dominance is important to dogs, and it starts early on. Even when you have just two pups in a litter, one will dominate the other. It just takes a little observation to determine the hierarchy, but you will discover which puppy is the alpha of the group by watching their body language. Look for the following clues to determine which puppy is top dog. When seeking tips on choosing the right puppy, it reveals a lot about their personality. It shows who’s passive and who’s driven to win.

How to Tell Which Puppy is Dominant in the Litter
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A Common Dominance Game That Puppies Play

Puppies play a game that could be likened to king of the hill, but it doesn’t involve hills or royalty. The goal of their game is similar to that of wrestlers. You might notice them attempting to sit on the other’s head. It’s hilarious! They flip around and try to pin their opponent’s head to the floor using their fuzzy behind. It’s a constant battle for dominance, but they have lots of fun playing this challenging game. You can determine the winner by taking note of who pins their opponent down the longest and who gives up and runs away. Puppy toys are great for teething and discouraging inappropriate chewing, but they aren’t needed for entertainment when they have playmates.

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Puppies establishing dominance may:

  • Stand over the others from the side in a T formation
  • Paw box
  • Body slam
  • Stares down others
  • Snarl
  • Muzzle bump
  • Bite muzzles
  • Pretend mount other pups
  • Play bite
  • Pretend fight
  • Pounce
  • Stand on the other pup’s shoulders
  • Circle others

How to Tell Which Puppy is Dominant in the Litter, Even if They Aren’t Litter Mates

When trying to tell which puppy is dominant in the litter, look for the one that exhibits these behaviors most often. He will likely come out on top most often too. They might seem like little victories, but to pups they’re big wins. They determine who will be the alpha puppy of the litter.



Kim Dalessandro is an award-winning freelance writer and artist from the Chicago area. Her passion is interior design, but she also loves entertaining and crafting. She is continually developing unique and creative ideas to share with the world.

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