Our record-breaking litter of 16 puppies

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Author: Guide Dogs' Communications Team
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A litter of 16 black german shepherd and retriever cross puppies looking over a low gate
A litter of 16 black german shepherd and retriever cross puppies looking over a low gate

Our record-breaking litter of 16 puppies

Date:
Author: Guide Dogs' Communications Team

Unity, a three-year-old German Shepherd guide dog mum, has given birth to 16 puppies, setting a new record in Guide Dogs’ 60-year-old breeding programme.


Mum and dad

Despite it being Unity’s very first pregnancy, she delivered a litter twice the size of the average for German shepherds and three times the size of the average litter across all breeds.

The puppies, now eight weeks old, were sired by Trigger, a six-year-old golden retriever. While it may have been Unity’s first litter, it is Trigger’s 28th - having sired 239 puppies, he is Guide Dogs’ most prolific stud dog. 

Our breeding programme

We run the biggest, most ethical breeding programme of working dogs in the world and meticulously health tests all of our breeding dogs who live year-round with volunteers, to give the puppies the best start in a loving home environment. 

All pups come into the Guide Dogs National Centre near Leamington Spa for one week before being individually placed with volunteer Puppy Raisers around the UK. It’s hoped these crossbreed puppies will have the loyalty and drive of the German shepherd, as well as the friendliness and confidence of the golden retriever.

A litter of sixteen is incredibly unusual, but such a gift. The pandemic has had a detrimental impact on our charity’s breeding programme and how many litters we can have, so these puppies are even more treasured.“Our staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly to ensure all the puppies have thrived and they are now ready to start their journeys to becoming life-changing guide dogs for people with sight loss.

Matthew Bottomley, Guide Dogs’ Head of Breeding Operations

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Author: Guide Dogs' Communications Team

Guide Dogs’ Communications Team are available 24/7 to answer journalists' questions about the charity and its services, events and campaigns. We have key spokespeople across all areas of our work and many of the people we support are happy to share their inspirational stories.

Author: Guide Dogs' Communications Team

Guide Dogs’ Communications Team are available 24/7 to answer journalists' questions about the charity and its services, events and campaigns. We have key spokespeople across all areas of our work and many of the people we support are happy to share their inspirational stories.