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California sheepdog gives birth to record 17 puppies

By Daniel Uria   |   March 2, 2016 at 3:54 PM

NAPA, Calif., March 2 (UPI) -- A sheepdog in California surprised her owners after giving birth to a record-setting litter of 17 puppies.

Stella, the 3-year-old Maremma Sheepdog, gave birth to the largest litter of puppies in the state's history and the most ever recorded for her breed.

"17 Puppies and all of them made it!" Owner John Costanzo wrote on the Facebook page for Napa Grass Farmer.

Costanzo praised the vet's work in keeping all of the puppies healthy and alive, despite the abnormally large litter.

"We had an excellent vet deliver them because it was way more than we thought," Costanzo told NBC News. "They all made it and are healthy. The doctor said it was five more than he has ever seen in his years of practice as the biggest litter he had ever delivered was 12."

The large litter falls just shy of the Guinness World Record of 24, and about seven or eight more than typically expected.

"We really were just expecting maybe 10 at the most," Costanzo told CBS News. "But once the 17th was finally coming out we realized that this was going to be a lot of work. We were going to be feeding morning noon and night."

In all Stella gave birth to 11 boys and six girls who will soon follow in their mother's footsteps herding animals on other local farms.

"Some of these guys are already going to farms around California, and we're just waiting to go through the rest of the interview process to put all 17 of them in different farms," Costanzo said.

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