When a female Irish Wolfhound dog gave birth to extremely rare, identical twin puppies at South Africa’s Rant en Dal Animal Hospital, Dr. Kurt de Cramer couldn’t believe his eyes. Normally, each puppy has it’s own placenta, but as the veterinarian was performing the c-section, he noticed that there were TWO puppies attached to the same placenta!
“When I realized that the puppies were of the same gender and that they had very similar markings, I also immediately suspected that they might be identical twins having originated from the splitting of an embryo,” de Cramer said.
The doctor later confirmed that the boys were twins with blood and tissue tests. These little cuties are the first documented identical twin dogs – there are no other known cases of living, identical twin puppies.
Dr. Joone Carolynne of James Cook University in Townsville, Australia says that in usual circumstances, there would have been no way of knowing that the two shared a placenta.
“…there would have been one less placenta than there were pups, but as the bitch often eats the placentas the owner probably would have simply shrugged this off,” she said, “We just happened to be lucky enough to be able to confirm it genetically. It has taken so long for us to find a monozygotic pair, so they are probably rare.”
What makes these two doubly special is that they survived gestation and birth. Typically, identical twins in the animal kingdom are rare because the placenta cannot sustain the lives of two babies.
“It is even less likely for placenta-sharing puppies to survive, because of several complications relating to nutrient and oxygen supply from a single placenta having to do the job that is normally done by two placentas,” de Cramer says
The twins are still growing, although they were just a little bit smaller at birth, they’re now about the same size as their brothers and sisters.
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