KHON2’s Howard Dashefsky hosted a reunion this weekend for his dog Jameson. After two years and two months apart, Jameson and his sisters Bumpers and Sachi played together for the first time since they were puppies.
Clearly, as the video above shows, the siblings picked up right where they left off. But was their friendly demeanor with each other a result of familial recognition, or simply because they’re three doofy doggos having a pool party?
There are no conclusive answers, but there are several key things to consider.
Dogs primarily interpret the world around them through their sense of smell, which can be upwards of 10,000 times more sensitive than ours. As any dog owner can (and probably does) tell you, dogs recognize their humans and often behave differently around strangers. Depending on how much time siblings spent together before getting separated, it’s possible for them to remember each other’s scent. This is not the same as a conscious awareness of their shared lineage, but functionally it does mean that dogs could be able to remember their siblings.
Research suggests that dogs are able to recognize their siblings and their parents later in life as long as they spent the first 16 weeks together. Intuitively, the less time dogs spend with their families as puppies, the less likely it is they’ll be able to recognize a family member later on. This is piecemeal theorizing, however, with little in the way of hard evidence to support it.
So can dogs remember their families? Possibly. We simply don’t know enough yet.