Do dogs remember their parents?  

Husky parents

As a dog lover, it is likely that you have many doubts and questions about the nature of dogs. These amazing animals definitely have a lot in common with us and with other animals. But it is also quite difficult to fully get to know their nature, understand their ways of communication and acknowledge their feelings and emotions.  

One question that comes up quite often when it comes to the nature of these amazing creatures is their memory skills. How much do they actually remember? At times, it may seem like dogs remember a lot, just like humans do. Specifically on this aspect, there is the question of whether dogs remember their parents or not.

Most of the dogs, as puppies, are separated from their parents, brothers and sisters, and if things go right, they go to different new families where they grow up happy and healthy. But do they remember their parents, even if they have only seen them when they were just born? This is the question that we will aim to develop in this article. Read along to find out more! 


Family recognition by DNA 

Science states that what drives the survival of the species is the natural urge and need to reproduce. For this reason, it is said that the DNA ties between families from different species are a real and solid thing to consider. And this also applies to dogs! This means that they can notice and recognize which canines share their DNA features, and thus understand who is a part of their blood family and who is not.

In this sense, it is very likely that if a dog meets one of its parents on the street, it may easily recognize any of them! This also applies to its brothers and/or sisters. As you can see, DNA is a powerful component that can determine who belongs where. And dogs understand this. This is why they are driven by the force of genetics and they are able to tell who is a part of their family. 


The sense of smell 

As you may possibly know, dogs have a very powerful sense of smell. They have around 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, while humans have around 6 million. Moreover, the part of their brain that is meant to analyze and perceive smells is about 40 times bigger than ours. In this sense, dogs are much more sensitive to smell and scents than humans can be.

This special ability to perceive smells in such a specific and detailed way is greatly related to the question of whether they can or cannot remember their parents after they are separated from them. From a very early age, even as young, tiny puppies, the sense of smell in dogs is already very developed. For this reason, puppies can have a close idea of the smell of their mothers right from the moment when they are born.

This is why it is very likely that, when puppies are separated from their parents, they still keep a memory of the scent of their progenitors. Thus, if the grown puppy meets its mother some years after, the smell and the scent is something that can definitely contribute to the puppy’s recognition of its mother.  

Mother dog with puppies

How long can dogs keep the scent of their parents in their memories? 

The answer to this question still remains uncertain. It is said that puppies and mothers can retain memories about each other for around 2 years, but there is still research being done about this matter. Moreover, it is probable that not all dogs have the same ability of remembering the scents for a long time. Therefore, there may be some dogs which could easily recognize their parents, but some others who might not be able to do so.

The time that the puppies spend with their mothers is a factor that can also contribute to determining whether they can remember each other or not. The longer a puppy spends with their parents, the most likely it is to recognize them after they are separated. Besides the smell and the scent memory, dogs also have associative memory of repetitive events. This means that they can remember and create mem