WHEN ITALIAN Spinone exhibitor Suzanne Whittingham travelled 3,000 miles to find a hot blooded Italian mate for her beloved six-year-old Spinoni bitch, Sh Ch Riccini Caprice (Mia), she didn’t realise their union would be quite so productive.
Just two months later, just before Christmas, Mia gave birth to a brood of 17 cute and cuddly pups, which has set a world record for her breed and is more than double the size of the average litter.
Even though Mia, who is more than used to setting records as she is the only Spinoni to have won Best of Breed at Crufts three times, had given birth to big broods before, the size of her litter stunned staff at the Prince Bishop Veterinary Hospital in Leadgate, near Consett in County Durham.
Practice owner Jacqui Molyneux said: ‘We knew that she was probably expecting a few more pups than average but when they kept coming, we couldn’t believe it. We had to get most of our staff, including our receptionist, and even a couple of builders who were working at the practice, in to help with the newborns.’
She added: ‘This is the by far the biggest litter we’ve had over more than twenty years at the practice, and is not too far behind the world record of 23 pups by a Great Dane, which is a much bigger breed.’
Ms Whittingham, who lives near Consett, plans to keep at least one of the dogs, and says that, despite their ordeal, mother and pups are thriving.
Quoted just before Christmas, Ms Whittingham said: ‘Mia is shattered but doing really well as are the pups who are just brilliant. They are more than a handful, but my family have been total heroes helping out. My mother does the day shift when I’m at work then my brother and I take over at night.
‘I’d like to say a big thank you to the staff and everyone who helped, including the builders, as they were all absolutely fantastic. Now we just need to get 17 little stockings to put round their baskets for what will be a very busy Christmas!’