Double trouble! Genetically identical twin pups born in SA

Dawn Barnard with her special Irish Wolfhounds
Dawn Barnard with her special Irish Wolfhounds

When Dawn Barnard, chairperson of the Irish Wolfhound Club of Gauteng’s bitch, Morgalen Revenge of Brenak (Reve), went into labour late last year, there was an extra little surprise in store. Actually, make that two little surprises…

“I was present during the birth, and when I saw Dr De Cramer holding up two puppies and speaking rapidly in Afrikaans (which I do not speak), my first thoughts were that these puppies were dead. Upon seeing my face, he quickly reassured me that they were fine, and that they had been born in the same sack, sharing the same placenta, thus they were twins. When they both turned out to be boys it caused more excitement as there was then a possibility that they could be identical twins. This had, at that time, never been confirmed scientifically,” Dawn told Animaltalk.

Twinning in dogs explained

When it comes to giving birth to twins, things work a bit differently in dogs than in humans. Dr Joonè explains: “In humans, twins share the womb and are born at the same time. These twins can be the result of the woman having double-ovulated (this implies that two eggs were fertilised by two different sperm, leading to non-identical twins of either the same or different genders). Identical human twins of the same gender happen when one egg is fertilised by one sperm, with the zygote then dividing into two separate embryos.

With dogs, all the pups in a litter are essentially non-identical ‘twins’ because the bitch ovulated a number of eggs that were fertilised within the same ‘heat’. What makes the Wolfhound pups special is that they are monozygotic, so they resulted from one egg, fertilised by one sperm, splitting into two embryos.”

Get the full article in your March 2016 issue of Animaltalk.

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