I was writing doggy bios for a litter of five puppies a few weeks ago and got quite a few doubters as to the listed breed mix. When our dogs come in from Kentucky they are already named, have an estimated age, and the breeds are determined. We are not allowed to change them so everything gets posted as presented. All five of those dogs looked so different even I had trouble accepting them as all coming from the same litter. They were quickly and happily adopted in short order and I moved on to other dogs.
A few days ago, a new litter of puppies became age-appropriate for adoption and so the photographer took the most adorable pictures and I began writing bios. Lots and lots of bios since this was a litter of ten puppies. Poor mommy! These puppies are listed as Retriever/Shepherd, Australian and once again I was surprised at how there seemed to be three distinctly different breeds in this litter. I mentioned to one of the staff members and he gave me my daily “and now I know” tidbit of information.
You might never see this mommy featured on Montel for the big reveal as you do with humans, but it seems it is common for a litter of pups to share one mom but have different daddies. Female dogs release multiple eggs during ovulation and, are can conceive every time they mate during this cycle. Another thing I learned from the fountain of information called the Internet is that the eggs are actually not fully mature upon ovulation. They complete the maturation process in the uterine horns. What further complicates the whole mess is that male canine sperm can cling to the uterine lining for days and then release when viable eggs become available. All this really cool information often results in multiple fathers for one litter. For those of you who are working on their calendar-a-day word definition, you’ll be happy to know that superfecundation is the technical term for litters sired by more than one father.
The vast majority of our dogs come to us without being fixed regardless of their age. As cute as it is to have multiple breeds in one litter, it’s a better idea to spay or neuter because there are still far more dogs than there are families to adopt.
Now that I know that one litter of puppies can have several fathers it makes my job of writing bios more interesting and it gives me ammunition for when people doubt the breed mix. Because we simply don’t have the luxury of knowing for sure breed determination is often an educated guess. If you really want to know then you can always pay for a dog DNA test. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter because you’ll love your dog no matter what.
And here are nine of the ten puppies all in one place. So now you know.