An Irish wolfhound in South Africa has given birth to identical twin puppies, the first time such a thing has been recorded.
Puppies from the same litter often look similar to each other, but these genetically identical twins had not only the same markings, but also they shared a placenta, a fact veterinarian Kurt de Cramer discovered as he was performing a C-section on the twins’ mother, he told BBC News.
It was the first time in de Cramer’s 26-year career he’d seen healthy puppies share a placenta, he told the BBC. Five other puppies also were delivered, each with their own placenta, as usual.
He was shocked to find two foetuses attached with umbilical cords to the same placenta, which he then successfully delivered along with five other puppies.
The puppies are of the same gender, with very similar markings, which led de Cramer to believe they were identical twins. Reproductive specialists then confirmed his suspicious by obtaining blood samples from the twins when they were two weeks and then six weeks old.
It’s the first recorded time a dog has given birth to identical twin puppies, but it’s hard to know if it’s truly the first time since dogs often give birth to multiple pups at the same time and they aren’t generally tested for genetics.
“It has taken so long for us to find a monozygotic pair, so they are probably rare,” Carolynne Joone of James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, told the BBC. “But so many of them will have been born naturally and blissfully unaware.”
The identical twin puppies were a bit smaller than their siblings at birth but are healthy and have grown to nearly the same size as their littermates.