This could spell double trouble.
A veterinarian in South Africa recently delivered the first known identical twin puppies.
Kurt de Cramer was performing a standard C-section on a female Irish wolfhound, when he noticed a bulge by the dog’s uterus.
Initially, he thought it was just excess fluid from one of the fetuses but after making an incision, he found not one, but two fetuses. And they were both attached to the same placenta.
Performing on average 900 Caesarean sections a year, de Cramer had never seen this during his 26 years as a veterinarian.
“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 told the BBC.
He wanted to ensure his gut feeling was correct, so after delivering the other five puppies (all having their own placenta), he reached out to reproductive specialists, including Carolynne Joone of James Cook University in Townsville, Australia.
“The twins looked very similar,” Joone told the outlet. “But pups from the same litter often do, [and] there were small differences in the white markings on their paws, chests and the tips of their tails. I wasn’t sure they were monozygotic [identical] at all initially.”
After taking their blood work, the group was able to confirm de Cramer’s suspicion: the dog did give birth to two identical puppies. They did a follow-up DNA test a few weeks later and the results were the same.
The difference in markings are similar to identical human twins not looking exactly like – one may have a birthmark, for example.
While this is the first confirmed case, there may be other identical twin dogs. It would just be more difficult to observe in natural births. The mom eats the placentas and dogs that look alike, just may be chalked up as the fact they are brothers or sisters.