It has now been confirmed that these Bonaforte girls are monozygotic, identical twins and born 3 years prior to the South African puppies - a verified breed first!
The article about identical twin Irish Wolfhounds puppies in the press in August 2016 spiked interest, when the BBC reported on a case of identical twin Wolfhound puppies being born in South Africa, following a vet assisted Caesarean delivery, and later tests proved that the twin puppies were indeed genetically identical and this appears to be the first recorded/proven case of monozygotic twin puppies. The article, written by Melissa Hogenboom, goes on to explain that although non-identical twins are not uncommon in some species, genetically identical (monozygotic) twins are thought to be a far rarer occurrence by the scientific community: It seems unlikely that identical twin puppies are particularly common. "It has taken so long for us to find a monozygotic pair, so they are probably rare," says Carolynne Joone of James Cook University in Townsville, Australia.
Lab tests on the ‘Bonaforte Twins’, who were born naturally at home at Broadholme House Farm in 2013, have now confirmed that those 2 puppies are also monozygotic, identical twins.
Every puppy born at Bonaforte is special, but when the E litter joined the world on 1st September 2013 there was a heightened level of excitement as 2 of the puppies were attached to the same placenta and we immediately knew they were twins (but not necessarily identical). The twin puppies (Bonaforte’s Ella and Bonaforte’s Eloisa) were significantly smaller than their litter mates, but they were always inseparable and always appeared to be identical.
In fact, they were so devoted to each other that it became obvious they could never really be parted form one another:
“whelping them was an amazing moment, one I shall never forget. From the moment they were born they displayed the "Twin Bond”. They always played together, away from the rest of the litter and always slept together. It was magical to watch them. We decided from the start they must live their lives together.” (Carla du Rose)
They eventually grew to be similar in size to their siblings and by a strange twist of fate they found their forever home together with the most special of owners - even though their owners had no idea they would actually end up with not 1, but 2 Wolfhound puppies! Maureen Nicholls and Ann Welford have been lovingly caring for the 2 girls, whom they named Ellie and Poppy, for over 3 years and the Bonaforte Twins remain as devoted to each other as they are to their owners. Even now it is almost impossible to tell them apart, even for their owners:
“They really still do everything together; they wee together, poo together, even sniff together. If by some unusual chance they are in different rooms and one is getting a crafty cuddle the other one appears, as if they know that the other one is getting attention. We can tell them apart if you really look but the main way is Poppy always has a red collar and Ellie has what ever is next nicest (don’t think she minds). We took them to the groomers once and when I got back she was so upset as she had taken off the collars and did not know who was who and was worried I wasn't going to be able to tell which one was which!” Maureen Nicholls, owner
The main reasons that identical twin puppies are so uncommon is partly because they are rarely genetically tested to evidence the possibility and also because they often do not survive: “It is thought that identical twins are rare because, when two foetuses share one placenta, they do not get enough nutrients from the mother and are therefore less likely to survive” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/earth/story/20160830-first-identical-twin-dogs-discovered). The twin puppies form South Africa were delivered at a veterinary surgery and therefore it was the suspicions of the vet that led to further investigations and testing and when litters are born at home it is possible twins will go unnoticed by the breeder. Carla however was fortunate to spot that the two puppies shared the same placenta, and keenly watched as the Twin Bond between them grew.