By Tui Benjamin
There were real life 101 Dalmatians scenes after a pedigree pooch vets thought was expecting three puppies gave birth to a record-breaking 18-strong litter.
The huge brood – the biggest in Australian history and equal to the current world record – was born to three-year-old Dalmatian bitch Miley in Ballarat, Victoria, last month.
Breeder Cecilia Langton-Bunker said the ‘fairytale’ posse of puppies, who initially needed bottle-feeding every four hours, draw constant comparisons with the Disney flick.
But the 12 female and six male pups, whose mum and dad are both first time parents, were all the more surprising because vets initially predicted just THREE bundles of joy.
Cecilia, 43, who runs CC Dalmatians, said: “Initially the vet said there was going to be three, but I knew there would be more than that and thought there would be 15 or 16.
“Normally Dalmatians have eight to 10 puppies and first-time mums usually have less.
“After a 13 and a half hour labour all puppies survived and they were all thriving from the moment they were born.
“We realised when the last one was born we had achieved something amazing and broken a record – and now the realization has come we are all just in awe.
“A lot of people have been making the 101 Dalmatians references – there aren’t 101 but there are 18!
“In the 101 Dalmatians movie Pongo and Perdita had 15 puppies so we have beaten them.
“I think people just love seeing happy healthy puppies, it makes people happy and puts a smile on their face.
“They are a lovely affectionate breed and are very happy go lucky. Kids always love them – it is definitely like a fairytale.
“It was a first litter for both of the parents. Miley has taken it all in her stride – and Astro clearly isn’t called Wonder Boy for nothing, he has stepped up to his name.”
Mum Miley, whose pedigree name is Sarasota From Russia With Love, and dad Astro Wonder Boy, known as Astro, had never had puppies before.
Their humungous litter was coincidentally born on May 18 after a 13 and a half hour labour which began at 7am and ended at 8.30pm.
The pups were born at an approximate rate of one an hour apart from one which kept the expectant parents waiting for two hours.
At birth the 12 girls and six boys ranged in weight from 410g – the first pup to be born – to 228g but are all growing healthily and now all weigh more than 3kg each.
The litter has matched the world record for the largest Dalmatian litter and has been officially certified by the Australian National Kennel Council as the biggest ever seen in Australia’s history of more than 40,000 pedigree Dalmatian births.
Cecilia, who owns Astro, has kept Dalmatians for the last 25 years but launched breeding business CC Dalmatians four years ago.
Miley’s owner Jade Martin is in charge of hand-rearing the puppies day to day at her home.
The pups are in the process of being given both their pet names and their pedigree names with some of the pets already named including pooches Lucia, Luna, Pepper, Pongo and Dakota.
When they were taken to their local vet – Ballarat Veterinary Practice – to be vaccinated and microchipped a vet and team of seven veterinary nurses had to provide assistance looking after the monster litter.
It was the largest litter of puppies the veterinary surgery had ever vaccinated and microchipped and the pups were wheeled into the practice on a trolley.
The puppies have also now been given 18 different tailor-made puppy collars to ensure they can all be told apart – and before this they were marked with coloured dots.
Cecilia said: “All the puppies already have homes with three travelling to South Australia, two going to Western Australia and the rest staying within Victoria.
“For every person I accepted a home for one of the puppies I turned down seven offers.
“They were on solid foods within two weeks of being born and get through an enormous amount of food.
“They have eaten six 12kg bags of food already but they were fed every four hours by hand for the first four weeks of their lives.
“Getting them to the vets for their first microchipping, worming and hearing tests took a lot of organisation.
“Jade bred to keep a little girl and we wanted to keep Astro’s bloodline going so we worked in partnership.
“The puppies each have special collars in a different colour so we don’t get them confused.
“They must have their collars on at all times so we do not get them mixed up because sometimes at quick glance you can get them muddled.”