Responsible Breeding

Breeding with chilled semen, part 1

As we make our way into a situation that can be described only as “Holy cow! Too much information about your dog’s unmentionables!” I thought it might be interesting to catch up with the action thus far.

It heavily involves sending money and spending money sending refrigerated boxes, in order to send refrigerated boxes. Say THAT five times fast.

Betty Ann has the specialized boxes, which are basically a cubic foot of styrofoam wrapped around a tiny vial and some ice packs, so we didn’t have to buy those, but I did need to send her the money to make sure those boxes, once needed, would get here fast.

The (ahem) genetic treasure to be concealed within the boxes can’t be sent straight from the source, as it were. It needs a nice cold sugary bath to keep it alive and kicking. That stuff, called extender, is manufactured in a place that is not Betty Ann’s backyard. It cannot be allowed to become warm, so it is sent from its origin to her house packed in – yup – another styrofoam box, using 2-day shipping.

Once those things are in place, we wait for Clue and Bramble to tell us that she’s almost ready to be bred. Then we confirm ovulation with progesterone testing. Once the vet says go, Midas is asked to provide a genetic sample for us – which, I have been told, he is very willing to do. That is carefully portioned with extender, packed in cold packs, and overnight shipped to me. I divide the sample up into two doses and do one breeding the day it arrives and one breeding the next day. A second box arrives on day 3 and is divided up so she is bred day 3 and day 4. Chilled semen lives about 24 hours once it’s inside her, so those two shipments cover a total of five possible days.

The reason the timing is so complicated is that dog eggs aren’t ready to be fertilized immediately. They have to do what’s called “ripening” before they can do the tango with a sperm cell. Ripening typically takes 48-72 hours after ovulation. With all the testing we do, we should know the day she’s ready and be able to get a pregnancy from just one breeding, but splitting it allows us to be absolutely sure that we’re covering it.

Then we wait to confirm pregnancy via palpation when she’s about 30 days post the optimal day that the progesterone told us she was ready. At 61 days after that day, she has a c-section.

Shockingly enough, Amazon doesn’t have these links, but here’s what I used last time and had nine puppies to show for it:

Chill 5 Semen Extender – this is good stuff. I did months of research on the best kind of extender to use and this is the newest technology available to consumers. The base is fructose, instead of the milk that most commercial extenders use, so it keeps the sperm alive longer. I can split the breedings without worrying that I’ve killed the sperm overnight.

The oh-so-precious styrofoam box. Lots of companies make them but I am fond of this one because it has really obvious sperm clipart on it for maximum FedEx-guy embarrassment.

We’re still in hurry-up-and-wait limbo, and will be for another week or more, but as things begin to get exciting I’ll keep you all updated.

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  • Reply Red Dog Mom August 17, 2010 at 12:03 am

    The last time Sam was used we delivered the box of Essence of Sam to the UPS store. When asked what the box contained, I replied canine semen. This was translated on the shipper label to canine seamen and then the store refrigerator was emptied so the box could go in there until the afternoon pickup. The things we do to further our breed.

  • Reply Pai August 17, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Speaking on the canine reproduction topic, what is your opinion on the use of Deslorelin, Cabergoline or Ovuplant (artificial heat triggers)? Have you known anyone who has used them?

  • Reply rufflyspeaking August 17, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Yes, yes, and yes. I’ve not personally used them but they are becoming more and more common.

    They’re not ever going to be the kind of miracle for dog breeding that they are for, say, sheep breeding, because all they can do is pull an estrous forward a few weeks. If you try to do it before at least four or five months have gone by the bitch will cycle but not ovulate. They’d be very useful to, for example, time a bitch to be in standing heat at a Nationals, IF she was already going to more than likely be coming in then. Or if you really wanted two bitches whelping at the same time (which some do) and the dormitory effect was not working for you, you could pull them a few weeks closer together.

  • Reply Kamie August 17, 2010 at 1:22 am

    I cannot wait to see the possible products of this litter! I think the best thing to do when delivered one of these boxes would be too exclain. “Great, just in time. I think I am ovulating now!” and dash off.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking August 17, 2010 at 1:27 am

      oh my goodness, WIN!

  • Reply kathi August 17, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Even if Axel is never, ever called upon for his “special purpose,” I think we need one of those special boxes just for the awesomely obvious artwork!

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