Dog has one of largest litters ever - after neutering appointment cancelled

Lots of puppies!
Lots of puppies! (Picture: SWNS)
Mary Killing had planned to get her dogs Bella and Archie neutered back in March but the appointment had to be cancelled because of coronavirus. She then spent days trying to keep them apart to prevent 15-month-old Bella getting pregnant. But despite using nappies and vaporub to keep them apart – Bella and Irish setter/English spaniel Archie still managed to get together. And when Lab/Collie cross Bella went into labour in July, Mary was shocked when the puppies just kept arriving – ending up with 16 puppies.

Sadly one passed away but the litter is still one of the largest ever recorded.

Mary, who’s from the small Irish village of Crecora in Limerick, Ireland said: ‘The neutering appointment was cancelled during lockdown as it was not considered urgent. ‘We tried keeping Bella and Archie apart, we tried nappies, Vick’s VapoRub and we separated them for a couple of days.
Mary Killing with her dogs Archie and Bella
Mary Killing with her dogs Bella and Archie (Picture: Brendan Gleeson / SWNS)

‘It wasn’t to be though.’

The litter began arriving at the Killing family home late on July 25 and finally ended with the 16th pup in the early hours of July 26.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Forty-five percent of pet owners say they occasionally (or frequently) buy presents for their animals.

It’s understood to be the largest ever delivered in Ireland, with eight boys and eight girls arriving in just a few hours. Mary said: ‘I was in absolute shock. The vet had told us she was going to have eight to ten puppies.

‘So having 15 was quite phenomenal. It’s a record I think.’

Mary Killing's giant litter of puppies
Some of the puppies (Picture: Brendan Gleeson/SWNS)
Mary said she was watching Game of Thrones when Bella started panting heavily and gave birth right there on her lap.

She then moved the pup on to a large duvet to deliver the rest.

Mary said: ‘We had to get a suitcase the following morning to put them into to count them as they were wriggling all over the place.

‘It was just phenomenal. We were in awe.’

Mary Killing with two pups from her giant litter
Mary Killing with two pups from her giant litter of puppies (Pictures: Brendan Gleeson/SWNS)
Luckily, Mary has been working from home with her role at the University of Limerick so has been able to care for the pups, with help from her five children.

She said: ‘It’s been tough, it’s been hard work.’

The family are keeping one of the litter, first-born Walter – named by 11-year-old Isaac after Where’s Wally because he kept hiding. The rest of the pups are going to family and friends, including one to her eldest son Josh, 24.

Make sure your pet is in good company. Pets get lonely and depressed just like people do when they spend too much time alone. Cats are generally better on their own, but dogs and especially puppies don’t do well left to their own devices for extended periods of time.

They’re all due to go to their new homes this weekend and Mary decided not to charge for the dogs, saying she just wants them to be loved and treated like a member of the family.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch at [email protected] .

The Fix

The daily lifestyle email from

Find out more