Can Dogs have twins identical puppies?

Cullen and Romulus have small differences in the white markings on their paws, chests and the tips of their tails (Credit: Kurt de Cramer)


Have you ever asked yourself: Can dogs have twins?  Well, fraternal twins, all the time.  Identical twins, very unlikely. 

When you think about this, you probably tell yourself that it is obvious that dogs have twins, triplets, etc. There is more than one puppy in every litter, after all.  Twins are the offsprings of the same pregnancy.  Now these can be fraternal twins if they developed from two different eggs or identical twins if one zygote split into two during gestation.

The relationship between identical twins and conjoined twins

There have been reported cases of twins in the animal kingdom.  These usually involve cattle, horses, pigs, and even some wild animals. Given that it is hard to physically tell when two animals are identical twins, a DNA test must be performed to verify.

The occurrence of identical twins in the animal kingdom is associated with conjoined twins.  These are unique cases of two offspring from the same zygote that did not completely separate during gestation. 

Historically, there has been multiple reports of identical twins in dogs. However, with no DNA testing technology to prove it, they are not scientifically verified.

These are the first documented identical twin dogs (Credit: Kurt de Cramer)

A reported case

This was until August this year when South Africa documented a case of identical twins.  Kurt de Cramer, a veterinarian at Rant en Dal Animal Hospital in Mogale City made a shocking discovery.  He was performing a C-section on an Irish Wolfhound.

Cramer, a seasoned veterinarian, noticed something strange.  He noticed an unusual lump by the dog´s uterus.  When he opened it, he noticed two fetuses attached to the same placenta by their umbilical cords.  

“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,” Cramer said.  After testing, it was confirmed that these were identical twins, with similar genetic composition. 

The twin dogs, called Cullen and Romulus, shared a placenta (Credit: Kurt de Cramer)

Cramer was surprising to note that the identical twins puppies were healthy. He had only seen one other case of two fetuses that shared a placenta, in 2014, but in that case the fetuses were already dead when he performed a caesarean section. “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. “ Today the twins dogs, called Cullen and Romulus, are still good. They were slightly smaller at birth, but by the time they reached the six weeks were similar in size to other puppies in their litter. (Source BBc discovery dogs)

So, can dogs have twins?  It is possible, but you already saw that there has been one case in many years.  

Follow us here at the column Dogalize to learn about other interesting facts and stories about dogs. 

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