A Bernese mountain dog is busy nursing eleven golden retriever puppies and her own litter of nine after the golden retriever mother died during emergency surgery.

“We were lucky though that the other mom was here and able to take them on. She basically saved those puppies too,” said Victoria Humane Executive Director Penny Stone.

According to the Victoria Humane Society, on Tuesday, a pregnant Bernese mountain dog who was having complications delivering babies was brought in. The dog and her nine puppies survived a surgery.

Then a few hours later, a pregnant golden retriever who was also in distress arrived. That mother did not make it through emergency surgery but her 11 puppies did.

The adult Bernese mountain dog is now nursing all of the puppies in shifts.

“She takes to them like they’re her own it doesn’t matter if it’s hers that are crying or the other ones shes attentive shes cleaning them everything is going really well,” said Stone.

But nursing twenty puppies is not sustainable. The Victoria Humane Society is asking anyone who has a dog that is a new mother and can nurse some puppies to contact them at [email protected].

“For her to not get any negative effects from nursing that many puppies it would be so beneficial for the golden litter to have another mom,” said Dr.Blair Gurney emergency veterinarian at Central Victoria Veterinary Hospital.

Stone says they will bottle feed the babies if a surrogate mother isn’t found but the ideal situation would be for them to be nursed by another dog.

“Nursing is much healthier at this stage and this age there is less risk for things like aspiration pneumonia  so if you’re bottle feeding a puppy then you are at risk if they were to regurgitate it and get it into the lungs,” said Dr.Gurney. 


The Bernese mountain dog mother and all of the puppies have been surrendered to the humane society. The society said the owner of the golden retriever puppies was unable to care for the litter on their own and the owner of the Bernese mountain dog had financial difficulties in regards to the surgery. The dogs will be up for adoption in the future but the priority is finding foster homes with dogs who can nurse.

The ideal surrogate dog would be a very calm,middle size to a large breed dog that has had a litter before.

“Ideally, experienced not that we are being picky but if they’ve had a litter before and we know that they are good nursing and nurturing moms then that would be perfect. No underlying health issues obviously,” said Dr.Gurney.