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How artificial insemination can be used when breeding dogs
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How artificial insemination can be used when breeding dogs

Dogs
Health & Safety

Breeding dogs usually involves introducing a chosen stud dog or sire to a bitch in heat and letting them do what comes naturally-but this is not how all litters come into being and in some cases, the bitch may never even meet the dog that fathers her litter! This is because artificial insemination can be used in place of physical mating in order to breed from a bitch, and this is something that more and more breeders consider every year.

You may not ever know whether or not your own dog or puppy was born as a result of artificial insemination unless you think to ask the breeder-and while traditional mating is still more common than not for all breeds of dog, artificial insemination is more widespread in some breeds of dog than others.

In this article, we will look at the basics of artificial insemination for dog breeding, how it works, and why it might be used in place of physical mating. Read on to learn more.

What is artificial insemination?

Artificial insemination is a method of achieving a pregnancy by means of in-vivo fertilisation, which means that instead of a dog mating with a bitch and producing ejaculate as a result-the natural way of achieving pregnancy-the whole process is undertaken manually.

This means that a male dog will be stimulated to ejaculate, and the semen is then carefully stored and transported in such a way that it remains viable until it is used. The semen is then prepared for administration and introduced directly into the dog’s uterus or cervix, where it should then theoretically lead to pregnancy.

The semen collected can either be kept fresh for up to 24 hours to be used within a short window of time, or it can be frozen and stored in the right conditions for potentially several years. This means that it is entirely possible for a bitch to be fertilised by a dog’s semen even after the male dog has died!

How does the process work?

Collecting semen is a process that is usually performed by a professional service, because it is rather more involved than you might expect. In order to collect semen from a male dog they have to ejaculate, which means they must be sexually aroused-and how this is achieved without mating is rather interesting!

Generally, a bitch in heat that is not intended to be mated with the dog in question will be used to arouse the dog, and as the dog prepares to mount the bitch, they will instead be redirected to an artificial vagina, which collects the semen!

Administering semen to a bitch in heat is only performed after the collected semen is tested and quality checked to ensure that it is not carrying any diseases and has a viable sperm count, and in order to do this, a tube is used to introduce the sperm directly into the vagina, as close to the cervix as possible.

While artificial insemination is widely used for some species of animals such as cows with a high level of success, the process does not have quite as high a rate of efficacy for dogs, as canine semen is less stable and more sensitive to sub-par conditions that can affect the viability of the sperm in collection, storage or administration.

Why might artificial insemination be used for dogs?

Whilst artificial insemination is nowhere near as common as planned physical matings in the dog world, the process is certainly becoming more common due to the advantages that it can provide, particularly for certain breeds and types of dog.

Some of the main reasons behind why breeders may use artificial insemination for their bitches include:

  • To increase the chances of successful conception in certain breeds of dog for which mating is often challenging-such as the French bulldog, which has very narrow hips that can reduce the dog’s chances of being able to successfully mount the bitch.
  • In order to make it possible to use semen from a dog that might be physically unavailable, such as because it lives a long way away or has even died since their semen was collected.
  • To reduce the risks of mating-related injuries to both the dog and the bitch.
  • To allow insemination to occur at the peak of the bitch’s heat cycle without having to have the stud dog on standby.
  • To maximise the number of bitches that a desirable sire’s semen can be used with.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Artificial insemination reduces many of the risks that can accompany mating two dogs, as well as giving the owner of breeding bitches a much wider range of options in terms of choosing a viable sire or stud dog. For instance, semen from a stud dog that lives in another country can be used, when otherwise breeding between those two specific dogs would be impossible.

However, whilst artificial insemination in animals such as cattle has an extremely high success rate, it can be more challenging when it comes to dogs, as their semen is quite unstable and fragile outside of the body, and so may be more difficult.

Additionally, because a professional such as a vet is required to take, test and administer the semen, as well as the specific conditions required to store and transport the semen, the cost is sometimes prohibitive. However, it does still tend to cost less than hiring a stud dog directly and paying all of the associated expenses as well as the stud fees themselves.

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