Veterinarian says such a large litter is very rare
When Queeny the Dalmatian went into labour on Dec. 27, her owner, Isabelle Chouinard, expected half a dozen puppies — or maybe 10 at most.
But hours in, the puppies kept coming at the family's home in Saint-Paul-d'Abbotsford, Que., 50 kilometres east of Montreal.
Even after the birth of eight puppies, Queeny's belly still looked huge.
Six hours later, a total of 16 squealing pups had emerged, all of them healthy to date.
With Queeny doing well and in recovery, the family has gained attention across the province with the litter being likened to the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians.
"I don't know if we hold the record with 16, but the average is really … seven to nine," said Chouinard.
"So 10 or 12 could happen but that's a large litter.… Usually the problem [is] there could be 15 born but a couple die on the first day. But for us, all 16 are still alive."
Family is helping Queeny with the feedings
Chouinard says it was love at first sight when they met and adopted Queeny two years ago in the nearby city of Granby.
Avid Disney fans, the family loves their energetic and affectionate Dalmatian and decided to breed her — as they did one other time with their previous dog.
"We wanted to do it once for the experience," said Chouinard, adding that the family put in their guesses on how many puppies to expect.
"Some people said six or eight. Me, I said 10 because I saw her and found she was very big," said Chouinard.
Cuteness overload: Meet 16 Dalmatian pups
A Quebec family was in for a surprise when their Dalmatian Queeny gave birth to 16 health puppies last month.
Dr. Louise Dubois, a veterinarian with 33 years experience with a practice in Granby, has never seen a litter this big.
"You have to understand that there are not even 16 teats on a female dog, so in terms of feeding the puppies, it's a little more complex, a little more complicated," said Dubois.The family has been helping Queeny manage those complexities for the past three weeks, said Chouinard, bottle-feeding the pups formula two or three times a day.
"We feed eight at a time. We have to make a change every hour to let her feed the puppies," said Chouinard.
Not surprisingly, Queeny seems tired, Chouinard said, as the vocal three-week-old puppies becoming demanding and a bit "combative."
Chouinard notes they don't plan on breeding Queeny again.
Having had one large litter makes her more likely to have another one, "and that's very demanding on my dog. I love her so much so I don't want to work her too hard," said Chouinard.
Finding the puppies good homes
Ever since the news got out about the adorable litter, the number of candidates looking to adopt the dogs has skyrocketed, said Chouinard.
Although the puppies must spend at least another month with their mother before they can be adopted, she says the process of finding them the right homes has been time-consuming.
"This is my problem right now," said Chouinard. "Above all I'm trying to guarantee that people are prepared to handle a very active dog."
"I want to make sure they find good homes so everything goes well and the puppies are not turned in to a shelter or back to my home afterward," said Chouinard.
The family has also been mulling over the idea of keeping one for themselves — and for Queeny.
"It's a big family discussion at the moment."
Having a puppy at home requires a lot of patience, and sometimes middle of the night wake-up calls. Imagine having… 16 pups! Isabelle Chouinard joins guest host Kim Garritty to present the new family members.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Watts is a journalist with CBC News in Quebec City. Originally from Montreal, she enjoys covering stories in the province of Quebec.
with files from Radio-Canada
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