A dog in South Africa has given birth to the first documented identical twin puppies. Apparently, apart from humans and one species of armadillo, identical twins are exceptionally rare.
The Irish Wolfhound’s puppies were delivered by vet Kurt de Cramer, who works at Rant en Dal Animal Hospital in Mogale City, Gauteng; and verified as monozygotic (identical) twins by experts from universities in Australia and Pretoria.
The world first was reported in ‘Reproduction in Domestic Animals’ journal, with a full case report; and has since been publicised around the world.
While performing a Caesarean section on the 4-year-old mom (who was in distress), De Cramer noticed she had an unusual bulge near the base of one of the uterine horns. He made an incision to extract what he thought was a foetus… and instead discovered two foetuses, attached with umbilical cords to the same placenta.
He told the BBC this was the first time in 26 years of practice that he had delivered two living puppies from one placenta. (On one other occasion he had seen two foetuses sharing a placenta, but both were already dead.)
The two puppies have been named Cullen and Romulus. They apparently have the tiniest differences in their white markings on their paws, chests and tips of their tails (just like identical human twins have different freckle and fingerprint patterns).
And although they were born slightly smaller, they have now caught up to their five brothers and sisters.