In this day in age, dog memory is still not a topic that is well known or well researched. So the question remains, do dogs remember their puppies? Or do dogs remember their parents?

Most puppies do not stay with their mother for very long. Usually, they are split up at three months old.

Because puppies typically depend heavily on their moms for nourishment and safety, dogs can form mother-child bonds very early. Because of this connection, dogs do retain the scent of their moms.

Before we tackle all of these things, let's first discuss the memory capacity of a dog.


Do Dogs Remember Their Puppies: Canine Memory

Dogs' memory systems for storing, processing, and recalling information are very different. They have a weak short-term memory, so it's unlikely that they can recall all the times they've wrecked our homes.

Dogs can recall things, simply in a different way, thus this does not imply that they are incapable of doing so.

It's no secret that a dog's long-term memory is a lot different from a human's. Canine memory depends more on the imprinting.

Imprinting is a biochemical process stimulated by sight and smell. It occurs when a puppy spends a crucial period of its development watching and learning from its mother.

For this reason, it's customary for a puppy to remain with its mother and other puppies for at least 8 weeks. During that time, they will learn some fundamental instincts and crucial behaviors.

As the puppies grow older, the physiological responses in the mother and the puppies are increased, forming a bond that helps them to recognize one another later in life.

Do Female Dogs Remember Their Puppies?

Yes, female dog mothers or dam remembers their puppies but the question is for how long?

The answer then depends. Some dams remember their puppies even years after separation and some may not recognize their puppies at all. 

Dogs will remember their puppies depending on the amount of time the puppies have spent with their day. The longer the time they spent, the easier for the dam to recognize their offspring. 

Dogs have inherited instincts from their wolf ancestry. One of them is protection and familial bonds, often both utilized for survival too.

For female dogs or dams, instincts are heightened during gestation and whelping then peak after giving birth.

Mother Dog with Puppies

After Birth 

Female dogs release a chemical called ‘oxytocin’ after giving birth. Dams are highly sensitive after giving birth.

Their desire to keep their litter safe is a priority. Some dams may become extra anxious, some aggressive, extremely vigilant, and even exhausted or stressed. 

During this time, not only are they keeping their litter safe is the only thing they’re doing. They’re also leaving their scent in each puppy by grooming them.

They are also guiding these puppies to do tasks on their own.

Mother dogs imprint on their puppies, and imprinting may take time. The longer the puppy is within the mother’s proximity, the stronger the imprint is. Sadly, not all puppies can stay with their dam for long. 

Some puppies leave their litter and dam only after a few days. Even though this happens, a lot of dams do remember their pups because this is where their motherly instinct is heightened. 

After the separation, the dam will most likely look for the pup as they remember well how many puppies they had.

If the puppies are returned after a few days, the dam will remember the puppy well.

The scent and behavior of the pup will unlikely change entirely yet. In that case, the dam will be able to recognize its whelp much easier.

The mother will likely sniff the pup and groom it until its scent is what it was before the separation. 

After a Few Months of Separation

It may depend from dog to dog but usually, dams will be able to recognize their pups after a thorough inspection.

Since they can spend time with their pups, they can recognize the puppies’ scent and even see their behavior.

Even thought the time passed is much longer, the dam will still be able to recognize it's them. 

It may not be as exciting compared to the puppies separated for only a few days but it will be welcoming. 

After Years of Separation

It may depend if the dam will recognize the dog as its own. Although they may acknowledge the presence of the other dog but doesn’t mean they ultimately remember them as well. 

Some dams may remember the dog well if it wasn’t separated early and may have spent a few more months or years with the dam.

But if it separated in just a few days, remembering will mostly not happen.

Note: It’s best to separate litter from their dam when they’re over eight weeks old. 

During the earlier weeks, the mother provides nutrients for their litter with her milk. Dams also provide natural protection and control of their litter. 

These earlier weeks is also the period wherein puppies gets to learn basic dog mannerism and instincts. From grooming themselves, recognizing their scent from others' scents, and familial bonds. 

This is also a period for the puppy to socialize with its siblings. Here, they’ll be able to learn to interact with others, learn that in playtime some bites are painful, learn how to share, and many more. 

Removing whelp from the litter earlier than the recommended time may result in behavioral issues in the future. The puppy may become timid, reserved, and too wary of its surroundings. Puppies who are separated too early are prone to food guzzling, velcro tendencies, and aggression.

Puppies are not recommended to leave their litter earlier than 8 weeks of age. Unless necessary due to health or circumstances, veterinarians suggest leaving puppies with their dam until due. 

when to separate puppies from mother

Do Dogs Remember Their Mothers?

For humans, there is no love like a mother-child bond. Some studies suggest that the bond between a mother and a daughter is the strongest of all bonds.

However, is it the same when it comes to dogs? Dogs have a pack structure and are sociable animals.

These animals do not socialize, perceive, or memorize life events in the same ways that humans do, so they have quite different concepts of memory.

In some cases, some dogs remember their parents, particularly their mothers. However, some dogs don't.

After Birth

Puppies can detect their mother's presence when they are born and retain her scent to maintain that recognition.

Puppies are vulnerable after birth, that's why they are reliant on their mother and they need to stay with her for a short period.

Monitor them and see that if the mother leaves the puppies, the pups will usually cry and move around more.

The puppies' memories of their mother will become more vivid once they can open their eyes and move about a little.

They will now be able to recall both her scent and a vision of her, including her size and color.

Although a dog's scent will always be more powerful than its eyes, it's crucial to note how its memories grow.

Puppies are completely dependent on their mom until they are fully weaned. Weaning is the transition from the mother's milk to the solid growth food of puppyhood.

This happens at around seven to eight weeks of age.

They'll still be following their mother around at two months of age. They are now capable to remember their mother from her scent, a little bit of her behavior, and the color of her fur.

However, the mother's scent is still and always will be the dominant factor that a puppy remembers and uses to recognize them.

Compared to a human's 6 million olfactory cues, a dog's nose contains close to 300 million.

This shows that a dog's capacity to distinguish between several odors is over 40% stronger than a person's.

After a few Months of Separation

After a few months, it is most likely that the puppy will still remember their mother after being separated. This is where dogs are usually re-homed.

But when you introduce the mother to the puppy again, the mother will still remember the puppy too. However, this reunion can lead to some tension.

Since the puppy is now bigger and full of energy, the puppy will be jumping and chewing at the mother.

This is normal since the puppy is excited to meet his mother again. But the mother will show less affection due to her lower energy level.

After Years of Separation

Research says that dogs can recognize their parents for up to two years of separation. Their memories are triggered by the visuals of their mother or most likely, the scent of their mother.


Do Male Dogs Remember Their Puppies

On the other hand, it's a lot different when it comes to sires and their puppies. After birth, male dogs do not recognize puppies as their own. But that doesn't mean he will not remember his puppies.

Their reaction will depend on their behaviors, breed, and sometimes, age. However, they can still develop a bond with some puppies.

But the hormonal influence that a male dog receives over his memory towards his puppies is a lot different from the mother.

He can also begin to consider a few of his puppies as friends or family members. This means that there is still a possibility that he'll remember them after a few years of being separated.

Frequently Asked Questions on Whether Do Dogs Remember Their Puppies

Do dogs miss their puppies when they are taken away?

Dogs will miss their puppies if they are taken away too soon or all at once.

So as long as they are taken away from eight weeks onwards and the puppies are removed gradually, everything will be okay.

Remember to not remove the litter all in one go. If this happens, it can cause anxiety and can significantly upset the mother.

Do dogs recognize their siblings after being separated?

Yes, dogs will be able to remember their sibling through their scent. If ever they'll meet again, they are most likely to feel more comfortable than meeting an unknown dog.

Their smell will trigger a memory that will tell them that the dog is someone they know.

How do mother dogs react when their puppies leave?

Always remember that if you remove a dog from the litter or its mom too early, it can have a detrimental effect on the puppy.

Moreover, it can also affect the mother. The mother knows when the puppies need to go off on their own.

If taken prematurely, she might howl and become aggressive due to being worried.

Mother dog and her puppy

Do Dogs Remember Their Puppies: Summary

In conclusion, do dogs remember their puppies? Yes, dogs do remember their puppies and puppies remember their mothers as well.

However, all of these will depend on their time away from each other.

Puppies will be able to recognize their mother through their scent. On the other hand, the mother can still remember their puppies after a few months apart.

The mother's maternal instincts will continue after a short period apart from her pups.

Furthermore, there are different factors to determine if the mother will remember their pups after a long period.

For instance, it will depend on how long they've spent together, her characteristics, and the amount of litter she has had after.

Always remember to never separate the mother from her puppies at an early stage. The puppies are still too dependent on their mothers for the first few weeks.

It is best advised to separate them when the puppies are over eight weeks old.

After birth, the mother's desire and main priorities are the puppies' safety. They'll be extra anxious, aggressive, vigilant, and stressed.

The mother can develop anxiety, and stress, and can be gravely upset when the litter is taken too early.

On the other hand, puppies have a critical socialization period from 5 to 14 weeks of age.

In this period, they'll be learning and experiencing a lot of crucial things from their mother. Failure from this can develop behavioral issues in the future.


Toby loves spending time with his dog and two cats. They are the best stress reliever and affectionate pets, especially his Belgian Malinois, Shawie. Shawie's favorite activity is running or jogging. But their go-to spot is to chill and swim around a nearby river.