Breeding by natural cover means allowing the dogs to do the breeding on their own. This is the easiest and cheapest of the breeding options for dogs. However, timing the breedings is still important as it allows us to accurately predict the delivery date, and allows you to schedule the breedings if the dogs cannot be just left together all the time. Disadvantages are that the dogs need to be in the same place at the right time, not all dogs will breed willingly with one-another, and there are the risks of disease transmission or injury.
Artificial insemination means that the semen is collected from the male, examined, and deposited in the female by a person. The advantages if this are that there is no direct dog-to-dog contact, so there is no disease transmission or injury, the dogs do not have to be in the same place at the right time, and the dogs do not have to be willing to breed. Additionally, the semen is examined prior to deposition, which is helpful in determining the cause of breeding failures. Semen can be used fresh, fresh-chilled, or frozen, and it can be deposited in the female by vaginal, trans-cervical or surgical techniques.
Types of semen
- Fresh semen
Fresh semen means that the semen is collected from the male, examined, and used immediately in the female. It can be used “as is”, or centrifuged and re-suspended in a semen extender. This technique is used to avoid direct contact (and thus disease transmission) and to permit assessment of the semen quality. Knowing the semen quality is necessary in interpreting the cause of failure to conceive.
- Fresh chilled semen
Fresh chilled semen is the same as fresh, with the exception that it is always centrifuged, re-suspended in semen extender, and then chilled to permit storage for up to three days. This technique has the same advantages as above, plus the dog and the bitch can live some distance apart. Typically, the semen is sent overnight express and the bitch is inseminated the following day. The semen is evaluated again prior to insemination.
- Frozen semen
Frozen semen is the same as fresh chilled, with the exception that special techniques are used to freeze the semen (in straws or as pellets) for indefinite storage in liquid nitrogen, and the thawed semen can only be used for transcervical or surgical inseminations. Freezing semen can only be performed by trained personnel, and if it is to be used to produce an AKC certified litter, the individual producing the frozen semen must be certified by the AKC. There are also specific criteria that need to be met prior to collection of the sample. A service fee will be charged to maintain the sample until such time as the owner wishes to use it.
Dr. Keene has been trained in this technique and is also AKC certified. However, this is not a service that we offer at this time, as we are evaluating our options in order to provide the best possible preservation and storage program.
Types of insemination
This technique is done with the bitch awake, and is well-tolerated by most bitches. A long, thin, semi-rigid plastic tube is used to insert into the vagina to the level of the cervix, and the semen is deposited there. This is the most common method of artificial insemination, with very good conception rates. Either fresh or fresh-chilled semen can be used for this technique. This is generally done on days 3 and 5, or 4 and 6 after the LH peak (see Estrous Cycles and Timing for more information).
This technique is like vaginal insemination, with the exception that a special, metal tube is used to go through the cervix and the semen is deposited into the body of the uterus. This method requires special training and equipment, and is not commonly available. We are not currently able to offer this technique.
As the name suggests, in this case the bitch is under general anesthesia. A small incision similar to a spay incision is made, and the uterus is partly exteriorized. The semen is injected with a needle and syringe, half into each uterine horn, and “milked” up toward the ovaries. The procedure is faster and less traumatic than a spay surgery. This is used in cases where other forms of insemination have previously failed in this bitch, or if frozen semen is being used. It is generally performed on day 5 or 6 after the LH peak.