Updated June 9, 2016 with information and photos
Bailee, a four-year-old South African Boerboel, recently delivered what is believed to be the largest litter of puppies – 19 – ever born at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.
All but one of the puppies survived the April 28 caesarean delivery by a multidisciplinary team of faculty veterinarians at the Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital. Guinness World Records reports the largest litter is 24 puppies, born in 2004. After the puppies returned to their owner, another puppy died, but at six weeks old, the 17 — four males and three females — are thriving.
‘The puppies are doing very well, all are very healthy, and we thank Auburn for that,” said owner Jerry Turner of Dothan, Ala., who owns Hidden Creek Boerboels.
The teaching hospital’s Theriogenology Service (reproduction) provided medical assistance and care for Bailee throughout her pregnancy, including a transcervical insemination (TCI), pregnancy care and delivery.
The birth was a ‘all-hands-on-deck’ situation in the surgery suite, ready to handle the large litter. Dr. Michael Tillson, a professor of surgery at the college, led a three-member surgical team, and Dr. Jacob Johnson, a professor of anesthesia, was part of a three-person team including an anesthesia technician and senior-level veterinary student. In addition, 12 third- and fourth-year veterinary students were on hand and assisted in caring for the puppies once they were born.
Dr. Aime Johnson, an associate professor and theriogenology specialist who worked with Bailee and the Turners, recommended a caesarean birth following a radiograph which determined a larger than normal litter.
“The radiograph showed at least 14 to 15 puppies, so we decided on a C-section because a natural birth for a litter that size would be a long delivery for the mother and often results in the loss of puppies because of the long delivery process,” she said.
For the first two weeks, Bailee and the puppies stayed with a nanny to assist with the every-four-hour feedings for the puppies.
The Turners chose to use Auburn’s small animal theriogenology service, to impregnate Bailee and follow her pregnancy. The father, an impressive male named Afrika Marcos (Mayhem for short), is also owned by the Turners.
“We originally started about a year ago bringing the dogs for a progesterone test to find the fertile window to breed,” said Turner, who has 10 dogs in his kennel. “With Bailee, we started with the transcervical insemination, and when radiographs showed Bailee was to have a large litter, we opted for a C-section.”
“They were all just super, great to work with, very knowledgeable and a blessing to our kennel,” Turner said, adding that he has sold the breed to owners across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Not a well-known breed in Alabama, the Boerboel is an impressive dog, and is recognized as being intelligent, reliable and obedient with a strong watchdog instinct. “The most common thing we hear from our customers is that the Boerboel is the best dog we’ve ever owned, and we have several return customers,” Turner said.
“We have been blessed to be able to own some of the top Boerboels in North America, and we’ve been very pleased with the Theriogenology Service at Auburn,” Turner said. “With the wonderful dogs we have been able to acquire and produce, we feel quite fortunate.”
Auburn is one of four veterinary medical programs in the U.S., and the only one in the South, to receive funding to establish the AKC Residency in Theriogenology, expanding the college’s national reputation in theriogenology, or reproductive medicine, in both large and small animal medicine. Auburn has been twice funded by the AKC and the Theriogenology Foundation for a resident position.
The Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine is the south’s oldest, and the nation’s seventh oldest, veterinary medical program. More than 6,500 alumni live across the U.S. and internationally.