A soldier expecting his pregnant pet Rottweiler to have six puppies watched on in amazement as she gave birth to SIXTEEN – the largest litter born in the UK.
The peppy pups have joined infantryman Mark Marshall, 32, wife Laura, and their five children, including one newborn, at their four-bedroom house on army barracks.
Mark has had the litter on a military-style feeding regiment, involving 40-minute spells with eight on at a time and a one hour break for hard-working mum Roxy in between.
There are so many pooches Mark and Laura have had to take some of the strain off Roxy and join in by feeding some with special milk from the vets.
The puppies were born in March and now, at eight weeks old, all but one are on the verge of moving in with their new owners dotted around the country.
Mark, a corporal with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment at Weeton Barracks, near Blackpool, Lancs., is keeping one of the cute canines, named Bella, for himself.
He said: “The scan showed six puppies and I thought ‘great, I’m happy with that’.
“So we had six in our head the whole time, the scans are usually pretty accurate apparently.
“But no – there was another ten hiding somewhere!”
He added: “I was so shocked at how many we ended up with. Obviously we hadn’t prepared ourselves for that but in the end, it’s been a nice surprise.
“It’s definitely been a lot to handle and it has been really tiring.
“I was feeding them in groups of eight for eight days straight and going to work in between.”
Mum Roxy went into labour at 5.45am on March 12, although to begin with Mark and Laura, who have never bred puppies before, didn’t know what was happening.
Mark said: “We heard a noise downstairs so went down to check and Roxy was hiding behind the sofa.
“We got her back into bed then went back upstairs. She kept on crying so we went to check again and saw a puppy lying on the floor.
“Then we saw one in the kitchen. She delivered another four within the next half hour and by 12pm she had delivered 13.
“I went out to get a few things for them and got a call to say another three had come along. I couldn’t believe it.”
Incredibly the puppies are older than Mark and Laura’s youngest, Arlo, who was born about a month later.
Their other children are 12-year-old Tyler, Kelsey, seven, Amelia, two, and Jaxson, nine months.
The pups, which have been sold for between £650 and £750, will join their new owners within the next few days.
In 2009 a litter of 18 rottweilers were given birth to in Luton, Beds, but one was stillborn and another died two days later.
In 2017 a litter of 16, the same size as Mark’s, arrived in Telford, Shropshire.
Mark hasn’t decided whether to apply for the official record.