NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 29, 2008

Sweet 16

Golden retriever gives birth to near record-breaking litter

ROWLEY — Indya Shaheen has 16 extra mouths to feed this week, after her 2-year-old golden retriever Retro, a.k.a. Fertile Myrtle, delivered a near record-breaking litter of puppies Monday morning.

Retro's doing most of the work feeding the pups, but with the extra pitter-patter of 64 tiny feet in her Rowley home, Shaheen is working overtime to help the first-time mother cope and care for her adorable brood.

"I think she feels better now that they're born," said Shaheen of the proud, purebred mother. "I think she was a little confused at first. She went to sleep, then woke up and had 16 kids."

The current world record for most pups born in a litter is 24, born to a Neapolitan mastiff from Great Britain in 2005, but only 20 of the Mastiff pups survived, which broke an existing record of 17 for most surviving pups in a litter. But Retro's 16-strong brood is nothing to sneeze at, since all are healthy so far, and equal twice the average size of a typical golden retriever litter.

"I've been breeding dogs since I was 9 years old," Shaheen said. "And it's the biggest litter I've ever heard of. I know it was the biggest litter ever born at (Slade Veterinary Hospital)."

Prior to Monday, the largest litter born at the Framingham clinic, which works with breeders in reproductive medicine, was a litter of 14 Labrador retrievers, but Retro's superior fertility shattered that record by two.

"Everybody likes to think it's the boy dog, but (the female) pretty much determines the number of babies, by the number of eggs she releases," said Slade Reproductive Technician Mary DeToma. "She definitely is a Fertile Myrtle."

It took DeToma and six others to deliver the pups in little over an hour and a half, and even though all were expecting a big family after glimpsing the pups on the big screen X-ray, 16 was still a shock.

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