Adorable record litter for a guide-dog breeding program in the U.K.
VIDEO: What A Paw! Seeing-Eye Dog Gives Birth To Amazing 16 Puppies
A German shepherd has set a new record for a 60-year-old breeding program in the U.K. after giving birth 16 puppies in November, Guide Dogs U.K. Midlands and East announced.
The puppies were born to Unity, a 3-year-old German shepherd, and sired by Trigger, a 6-year-old golden retriever. They were delivered at the organization’s National Center near Leamington Spa in Warwickshire.
Unity’s impressive litter is twice the average of eight puppies for German shepherds, according to the purebred registry of the American Kennel Club, which lists the largest known litter for the breed at 17 puppies. Across all breeds, the organization reports an average litter size of 5 or 6 puppies, with a normal range of one to 12 puppies.
Guide Dogs U.K. said in a statement it hopes these crossbreeds “will have the loyalty and drive of the German shepherd, as well as the friendliness and confidence of the golden retriever.”
“A litter of 16 is incredibly unusual, but such a gift,” Matthew Bottomley, head of breeding operations, said in the statement. “The pandemic has had a detrimental impact on our charity’s breeding program and how many litters we can have, so these puppies are even more treasured.
“Our staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly to ensure all the puppies have thrived, and they are now ready to start their journeys to becoming life-changing guide dogs for people with sight loss.”
The charity posted photos of the puppies online on Jan. 13, along with a message noting that all puppies in their breeding program go to its national center health checks before being individually placed with volunteer puppy raisers around the U.K.
The organization posted a video of the pups, accompanied by the message: “16 puppies incoming! Meet Konrad, Hugo, Clayton, Nash, Derek, Joel, Pax, Ranger, Denver, Evans, Ellie, Silvie, Mabel, Twiggy, Betty and Daisy. That’s right, 16 little life-changers!”
The Guide Dogs story started in 1931 “with two amazing British pioneers, Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond,” the website states. The women organized the training of the first four British guide dogs from a garage in Wallasey, Merseyside.
“We’ve come a very long way since those early days. Today Guide Dogs is the world’s largest breeder and trainer of working dogs. And thanks to our dedicated staff and volunteers — and your vital donations — 36,000 lives have been transformed through a guide dog partnership since 1931.
“Over the coming years we’re looking to increase the number of guide dog partnerships, but we’re also developing a broader range of services that will help more people who are blind and partially sighted to get out and about on their own terms,” the organization says on its website.
Edited by Judith Isacoff and Kristen Butler