After their mother died, Rocky, Chip, and Brownie were taken to the Helping Hands Humane Society in Topeka. The rescuers didn’t have much information about the three little puppies. They only knew they needed assistance, and that was enough for them.
The puppies were barely a week old and needed to be bottle-fed, so they were taken in by a foster family to receive the care and attention they need. All three puppies appeared to be the same when they originally arrived at the rescue center. However, as the three siblings grew older and established their own individual personalities, they began to develop their own distinct appearances as well.
“Looking back at the images today, we started seeing distinctions when the boys were around 3 weeks old,” said Emi Griess, HHHS Topeka’s communications coordinator. “Brownie’s coat was longer and silkier, Rocky’s was rougher, and Chip still had the appearance of a newborn Chihuahua.” We could see right away, at 6 to 7 weeks of age, that all three of them were going to appear very different.”
Soon, the puppies had all developed into their own personalities, and it was hard to determine if they were connected.
Grace Clinton, director of business development and special events at HHHS Topeka, told The Dodo, “I was SO startled.” “I couldn’t believe they were brothers and sisters from the same litter.” That was the first time I’d ever seen anything like that.”
Of course, the rescue couldn’t help but post the stunning littermates online, and the internet went crazy over them. Some folks couldn’t believe they’d all originated from the same litter, so they tried to explain it to others. Regardless, the boys’ antics drew everyone’s notice — and they were soon followed by their forever family.
“The boys’ foster mother works for Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and she usually had one or more of the puppies with her during virtual meetings,” Griess explained. “They rapidly became popular greeting guests, and Hill’s employees adopted both Chippie and Brownie!” Because Rocky was adopted by a former Hill’s employee, the boys are able to reunite on occasion.”
After the boys had adjusted into their new homes, their families decided to do pet DNA testing on each of the very different-looking canines to determine what breed they were. Rocky (who seems to be a Yorkie) has yet to receive his findings, but Chip (who appears to be a Chihuahua) and Brownie have, and it’s rather exciting.
Chip’s findings include 22% silky terrier, 19.8% tiny poodle, 16.1% Yorkshire terrier, 13.2% Chihuahua, 8.6% Pomeranian, 6.9% Russell-type terrier, and 13.4% supermutt. Brownie is 19.9% Yorkshire terrier, 17.8% silky terrier, 17.4% poodle (small), 16.6% Chihuahua, 12.3% dachshund, 7.7% Pomeranian, and 8.3% supermutt.
The results appear to make sense based on the dogs’ appearances — it’s just so bizarre to everyone involved that three puppies from the same litter could grow up to look so drastically different.
“The pattern of a dog’s fur coat is determined by three separate genes,” Chip’s father, Dr. Jolle Kirpensteijn, a small-animal veterinarian and chief professional veterinary officer for Hill’s Pet Nutrition, told The Dodo. “One for length, one for curl, and one for the presence of ‘furnishing’ (beard, bushy eyebrows, and wiry hair type), which can be found in 95 percent of canine breeds.” This was made feasible through a combination (mixed) of expression of Mom and Dad’s genes.”