Mama “Anny,” short for “Anne-Amelie the Irish Spirit of Nature,” a champion show dog along with father “Yates Remember Me of the Red Flash” welcomed the wiggling bundles of joy into the world four weeks ago.
Irish setters typically have litters of between eight and 12 puppies, making the arrival of 11 females and seven males a big surprise for breeders Gerd and Marita Holey.
“They're doing super,” Gerd Holey told The Local from his home in Neverin. “They're all growing strong and running around. We're very happy.”
But at first the delivery was difficult for four-year-old first-time mother Anny.
Although the Holey family built her a birthing crate, she was initially so reluctant to use it that her owners lay in the crate with her. But in the end it was only a bit of brandy mixed with water that calmed the Red Setter enough to deliver her puppies, the regional daily Nordkurier reported.
Just one puppy was stillborn, but otherwise all of the puppies are equally healthy, the family said.
After the birth, a professor in Hannover called the family to tell them he believed Anny had delivered the litter of the century, the couple told the paper.
The young mother, who is also a trained rescue dog, has been a bit overwhelmed by her 18 young, so the Holey's have lent a helping hand.
Each puppy wears a number on its back for identification, and the Holeys ensure that each puppy gets a turn at being fed. Feeding all 18 can take up more than two hours, by which time the first puppy must be fed once more, the Nordkurier wrote.
On their breeder website, entitled “The Red Pride of Kylemore,” the Holeys have posted details of both parents as well as pictures of the puppies.
Four have already been purchases by new owners, Gerd Holey told The Local.
“The most important thing to us is that they go to good homes,” he said.