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Melissa Goodman, DVM

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Planning an ICG Express Chilled Extended Semen Breeding

While artificial insemination is frequently performed with a fresh ejaculate, techniques of extending and chilling canine semen have been recently developed to preserve sperm viability, allowing transport to distant locations. Thus, breeders gain access to distantly located stud dogs by shipping the semen instead of either the bitch or stud dog. This often means the available gene pool of a given breed will be widened, increasing the possibility of genetic selection for favorable traits and against medical and/or behavioral problems.

The use of canine chilled extended semen may be indicated in any distance breeding between a healthy, reproductively normal bitch and stud to avoid the risks and stress of shipping the animals. After shipping, bitches may abruptly "go out of season" and fail to ovulate, which is mostly likely a result of a stress induced change in hormone secretion. Both bitches and stud dogs frequently fail to thrive in a strange environment, and show decreased reproductive efficiency as a result. Airline travel may be risky, and is often prohibited during periods of temperature extremes. In addition, many stud owners limit the use of a dog for breeding because they prefer not to host a bitch, either due to the disruption caused in the kennel and/or the responsibility of caring for someone else's valuable bitch and managing the breeding. Shipping chilled extended semen therefore enables breeding to occur that would be unlikely otherwise.

While the potential advantages are great, it is important to remember that breeding with chilled extended semen introduces variables that are not factors when dogs breed naturally. If all steps in a chilled extended semen breeding are performed properly, the chances of conception are close to that of a natural service. Advanced planning and careful attention will give the best chance of success.

First of all, it is always imperative that all parties involved, both owners and veterinarians, understand the steps required and are committed to carrying them out.

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