Veterinarians specializing in canine pregnancy & reproduction can work with breeders who want to use their prize stud's sperm for creating future generations of champions. Sperm freezing is the best way to continue breeding stud dogs that are unavailable after neutering or for other reasons. At Pet Hospitals of Hawaii, we offer a trusted freezing lab for canine semen and experienced veterinarians to help you along the way.
The ideal age to collect a stud dog's semen is between 18 months and three years when most dogs achieve sexual maturity. The following conditions are vital to prepare for this.
• A high libido: Studs will produce semen with a higher sperm count when their libido is very elevated.
• The availability of a teaser: The presence of a female dog in heat, even if unavailable for breeding, can encourage the stud.
• Familiar objects: Rugs, blankets or other items can create an environment that the stud associates with breeding.
• Critical supplies: Collection cups and containers, swabs with the scent of estrous bitches and libido-enhancing drugs are some of the items that can help with semen collection.
Once sufficient semen is collected, lab technicians can evaluate its viability. A male dog continuously produces semen; however, sperm quality may be inconsistent due to many factors. These circumstances may include medication side effects, illness-related fever, hormone imbalances, environmental conditions, or age. State of the art fluorescent staining, computer-assisted technology and a background in canine pregnancy and reproduction help technicians make objective evaluations of the semen for the following characteristics.
• Sperm count: A lab technician adds the semen to a hemocytometer, consisting of a glass slide etched with grid chambers with equivalent depth and spacing. Counting the number of sperm in each section reveals its average concentration.
• Sperm motility: The most fertile studs have sperm motility of more than 70%. Healthy sperm move quickly in a straight direction, and circular movement is undesirable. High magnification microscopes detect sperm head positions, and image digitizers and computers allow technicians to see and analyze sperm movement patterns.
• Color and opacity: Semen with a healthy amount of sperm tends to have an opaque, milky color. Clear or yellow and red-tinged semen can indicate a low sperm count or urine and blood intrusions that compromise its viability.
• Morphology: The shape and integrity of sperm determine their suitability for freezing. Normal sperm consists of the body that stores energy, the head containing DNA and the tail, which helps it move through the female reproductive tract. Fluorescent staining methods highlight each part, enabling technicians to calculate the percentage of well-formed sperm per semen sample. Advanced testing methods, including electron microscopy to intensify magnification, hypo-osmotic swelling to ascertain fertility potential and automated sperm morphometric analysis to detect a sperm cell's subtlest abnormalities, can reveal deeper issues that other tests cannot uncover.
After extensive testing confirms that the sample meets minimum standards, the sperm are isolated from the semen's fluid and mixed with antibiotics, egg yolk and other substances that will nourish and preserve them while frozen. The sperm mixture first must chill to four degrees Celsius, then combine with liquid nitrogen before its distribution into several straws for freezing and storage at a canine sperm bank.
Inseminating female dogs with frozen sperm has produced litters acknowledged by the American Kennel Club since 1981. Veterinarians with advanced canine pregnancy and reproduction training surgically introduce the sperm into a female's uterus to maximize egg fertilization chances. This method is also useful when applied to females with cervical abnormalities.
Before thawing the stud's sperm, it is necessary to confirm that the female is ovulating to raise fertilization probability. It is also essential to test one straw of the sperm to determine its integrity after freezing. If circumstances are conducive to insemination, the procedure can occur. Careful post-surgical monitoring of the female will ensure a litter's successful delivery.
If you have questions about how canine sperm freezing can preserve your stud dog's genes for future generations, schedule a consultation with one of our veterinary pregnancy and reproduction experts at Pet Hospitals of Hawaii.