The aim of the study was to analyse the genetic background of different traits to characterise the maternal behaviour of sows and to evaluate the relationship to different causes of piglet losses – increasing piglet survival due to higher maternal abilities of the sow. A total of 1538 purebred litters from 943 German Landrace sows in the year 2004 were available for data analysis. Around 13 971 individually earmarked piglets were included in the analyses. Maternal abilities were characterised through the sow’s reaction to the separation from her litter during the first 24 h after farrowing, and on day 21 of lactation, the reaction towards the playback of a piglet’s distress call and the reaction towards an unknown noise (music). In 1220 of these litters, the sows were also scored for aggressiveness in the group when regrouped before entering the farrowing crates. To describe fertility, the number of piglets born alive, stillborn piglets, number of piglets born in total and the individual birth weight were utilised. Different causes of piglet losses were evaluated as binary traits of the dam with survival rate, different definitions for crushing by the sow, being underweight and runts. The heritability for being aggressive in the group was h2 = 0.32 and for the behaviour traits during lactation, the heritabilities ranged from h2 = 0.06 to 0.14. The genetic correlations showed that more-reactive sows had fewer piglet losses.