What Is Single Inheritance in Object Oriented Programming?


Scott Campbell

In object-oriented programming, inheritance is a powerful concept that allows classes to inherit properties and behaviors from other classes. It promotes code reuse and helps in creating a hierarchical structure of classes. Single inheritance is one of the fundamental types of inheritance where a class can inherit from only one superclass.

Understanding Single Inheritance

Single inheritance, as the name suggests, allows a class to inherit properties and methods from a single superclass. This means that the subclass will have access to all the non-private members (variables and methods) of its superclass. The superclass acts as a base for the subclass, providing a blueprint for its structure and behavior.

Let’s consider an example to understand the concept better:

class Animal {
    protected String name;
    public Animal(String name) {
        this.name = name;
    public void eat() {
        System.out.println("The animal is eating.");

class Dog extends Animal {
    private String breed;
    public Dog(String name, String breed) {
        this.breed = breed;
    public void bark() {
        System.println("The dog is barking.");

In this example, we have two classes: Animal and Dog. The Animal class is the superclass, while the Dog class is the subclass. The Dog class extends the Animal class using single inheritance.

Benefits of Single Inheritance

The use of single inheritance offers several benefits:

  • Code Reusability: With single inheritance, we can reuse code by inheriting properties and methods from existing classes rather than rewriting them.
  • Organized Structure: Single inheritance helps in creating an organized hierarchy of classes, making the code more manageable and easier to understand.
  • Easy Maintenance: Since the superclass contains common attributes and behaviors, any changes made to it will automatically reflect in all its subclasses, reducing code duplication and ensuring easy maintenance.

Limitations of Single Inheritance

While single inheritance offers various advantages, it also has some limitations:

  • Lack of Multiple Inheritance: With single inheritance, a class can inherit from only one superclass. This means that it cannot inherit properties and behaviors from multiple classes simultaneously.
  • Increased Coupling: Single inheritance can lead to increased coupling between classes. Any changes made to the superclass may impact all its subclasses, potentially introducing bugs or breaking existing functionality.


In summary, single inheritance is an important concept in object-oriented programming that allows a class to inherit properties and behaviors from a single superclass. It promotes code reuse, creates an organized structure, and simplifies maintenance.

However, it comes with limitations such as the inability to support multiple inheritance and increased coupling between classes. Understanding these concepts will help you design better class hierarchies in your programs.

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