Litter sizes range from one to about 15 or 16 and on average the larger the breed the larger the litter. In most breeds the bitches come into season twice a year, but the Basenji only has one heat a year, like most wild dogs.Sometimes record litters are produced though it is rare for all the pups to survive.
BIG LITTERS :
ST.BERNARD : whelped 23 puppies in June 1944, but were not registered and could have been two or three litters.
AMERICAN FOXHOUNDS : called LENA claimed to have whelped 23 puppies out of which 11 died.
GREAT DANE : Largest litter registered by AKC is 19, though in one case there is a claim for 21.
BLOOD HOUND : 17 in one litter in 1917, all survived. On average, bloodhounds have 9-16 in a litter, and there is a claim for 19 in the last century.
IRISH SETTER : 18, 16 and 15 in successive years to the same bitch.
DOBERMANN : 17 is the AKC record for the breed.
OTHER BREEDS :
16 Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Collie, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, German Sheperd, German short-haired and wire-haired pointer, Golden Retriever, Newfoundland, Weimeraner.
15- Airedale, Boxer, Bouvier des Flandres, Brittaney Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, poodle.
BOSTON TERRIERS : usually need Caesarean.
BRUSSELS GRIFFON : irregular season, does not always conceive, small litter.
BULLDOG : often infertile, usually need Caesarean if they do give birth, and then they are such hopeless mothers that fosters must be found..
ESKIMO DOG : Sometimes eat the puppies if they are left alone. (natural instinct of many wild animals)
FINNISH SPITZ : Pups are very delicate.
JAPANESE SPANIEL : very difficult to rear the pups, even if they are born alive.
MASTIFF : accident prone- the mother often manages to lie on the pups and squash them to death.
POMERANIAN: pups are very delicate and small. You can hold three of them in the palm of your hand.
YORKSHIRE TERRIER : usually needs the help of a vet when whelping.
In Paraguay and Peru dogs were so highly esteemed that human wet nurses looked after orphan pups
In England in the early 18th century, spaniel bitches were used to foster 'sow babbies' to sweeten the pork so that it would 'eat as fine as any puppy dog'.
The father of well known Victorian painter, Landseer, had a bitch which fostered a lion cub in 1820. Orphan tiger cubs have been known to be fostered on bitches too.
A Newfoundland living in Sussex recently adopted a duckling; they became inseparable. There was also a hen which brooded some orphan pups.
Raj Prateek Verma