A Tibetan Mastiff on the Estonian island of Muhu has given birth to a litter of no fewer than 19 puppies, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reports.
Heli Säre, a vet on the island, told AK that this may well be a record number of puppies to have ever been born in one litter.
Säre, of the Muhu loomakliinik vet's surgery, said: "We had counted 15 or 16 puppies in total from an X-ray, but once I had carried out a C-section, I had to call out to the others that, there is one more and, listen, there is another… and another! And so it went on until the total came to 19."
The mother, named Yamico, is doing fine, AK reported, as are all 19 of her offspring, who had their first medical check-up on Thursday and are growing fast (see gallery above).
In the space of a week, they have doubled in weight, from 300 grams to 600 grams each, and in two months' time, each animal could weigh as much as 12 kilograms.
This was the first time Säre had encountered a litter of this size in all her experience.
"We won't be getting into the Guinness Book of Records this time here on Muhu, but to my knowledge, this is one of the biggest puppy litters ever in Estonia;" she said.
Säre's intervention was timely, too, and was thanks to "a very responsible owner, who paid attention to their dog and, realizing that a vet's aid was needed, rushed to the clinic to get the C-section done. Otherwise, these puppies would unfortunately not be with us today."
Yamico, a Tibetan Mastiff, a species that can grow up to 66cm in height, can under normal conditions only accommodate 10 suckling puppies at a time, meaning additional food is required.
Her owner, Kai Aas, said that she mostly does this by providing pups who can't find a spare teat by feeding them with goats' milk, from a bottle.
As for the causes of a progeny of such a size, the fact that the puppies' father's name is "Power" was suggested as one theory.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Margus Muld.