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Great Dane gives birth to 16 pups

August 02, 1999

By BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




When her purebred Great Dane had a sonogram last week, Peggy Dieter counted 12 shapes crowded in the big dog's womb.

But the litter was larger than expected.

Moky on Monday gave birth by Cesarean section to 16 puppies at Park Circle Animal Hospital in Hagerstown.

"We were surprised when we got extra," Dieter said.

The anesthesia started to take effect around 1:30 p.m. Veterinarian Lem Halterman gave Moky a Cesarean section and delivered the puppies.

The entire procedure took about 90 minutes.

"It usually doesn't take that long," said Karen Lowry, a vet technician. "But when you're dealing with 16 puppies, it takes time."

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Lowry and other assistants rushed the puppies into the next room to clean them and make sure each one was breathing.

"You want them to cry," she said. "If they're not crying I'm not happy."

Halterman said he's been in practice 30 years and it was the first time he delivered so many puppies. Dieter said her dog is unusually fertile.

Moky, who came from Montana, is 4 years old. Her first litter two years ago was also 16 puppies, but three didn't survive birth by an emergency C-section. She gave birth to five puppies last year.

Dieter, of Cearfoss, said it is unusual for all the puppies in a litter so large to survive. She sat on the floor and nursed the newborns with a formula-filled bottle. Moky lay unconscious on the table next door, paws in the air.

Mewling noises rose from beneath a towel covering the sightless puppies in a cardboard box. Dieter said she will tie a different-colored string around each puppy's neck and give each a nickname.

She will weigh them every day and monitor their health. Within two weeks their eyes will open. Eventually, Dieter plans to sell all but one of the pedigreed puppies for $600 to $1,500 each.

Dieter carefully screens prospective owners and sets rigid rules. For example, each dog must be kept indoors and spayed or neutered, she said.

Moky's pregnancy lasted about 63 days. Toward the end, she was restless, sick and didn't eat much, Dieter said.

The puppies swelled her belly and sent her normal weight of 100 to 105 pounds up to around 127 pounds.

"She was huge. She looked ready to burst," said Dieter.

Lowry and Toms carried Moky over in a blanket and laid her down. As she awoke, the dog looked shaken and shivered. She gradually relaxed as her body warmed and the puppies gathered to nurse.

Moky is an easygoing sweetheart, according to Dieter.

"She takes everything as it comes," she said.

Like others of her breed, Moky has a great disposition, she said. "I wouldn't have anything else."

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