A Guide to Artificial Insemination for Dogs

In today's world, many breeders and veterinarians are looking to artificial insemination in dogs as a very viable option in breeding programs. Time and geographic limitations are less of a consideration, and an exceptional dog's bloodlines can continue even after an unexpected injury or after his death. As with anything you are considering for your dog, dog artificial insemination has its pros and cons and should be carefully considered.

Why Artificial Insemination Is Done

There are a variety of reasons that breeders turn to artificial insemination.

  • Availability of stud - An in demand stud's availability may not match up to a female's heat cycle, and getting the two dogs together can be difficult. With artificial insemination, the insemination can be done when the dog's body is most receptive.
  • Geographic location - While the mobility of today's world is less prohibitive, getting a female to a stud that's 1,000 miles away is expensive and time consuming. Semen can be chilled and shipped overnight for use the next day or can be frozen and shipped for future use.
  • Stud no longer able to breed - Artificial insemination is also indicated if the stud has been injured and unable to mount. Collecting the stud's semen also allows for his bloodline to continue once he passes.

Collecting Semen

To collect semen, a female in heat is brought together with the male. When he tries to mount, his penis is redirected into an artificial vagina and stimulated to cause ejaculation. The female is used to excite the male and make collection easier. When a female is in heat, her vagina releases chemicals called pheromones indicating the stage of estrus.

Swabs can be collected from females when they are at peak estrus and frozen, the swabs used later on another dog if a female in heat is not available. The male will respond to the surrogate as if she were in heat. Once collected, the semen is microscopically examined for adequate concentration and motility and to ensure the sperm is anatomically correct as these are important factors in increasing the success rate of artificial insemination.

The Insemination Process

Insemination is conducted once the semen has been examined for adequate quality. Once the sample is collected it can be placed in a long plastic or glass tube and infused into a female, placing the tube as close to the cervix as possible. In large dogs this could be several inches. Fresh semen should be used immediately, chilled, within 24 hours. Frozen semen is kept in containers of liquid nitrogen and can be kept for several years.

While the practice of artificial insemination is conducted by both veterinarians and by private individuals, it is still a relatively new practice in the canine world. The success rate of artificial insemination in dogs is not as high as with other animals, not because of inexperience or improper technique, but because of the instability of dog semen. Another reason is because for other animals, such as cattle, females are selected for artificial insemination have specific reproductive attributes that make them ideal candidates. Dog breeders often select their breeding females on a more emotional level, when their reproductive physiology may not be as conducive to artificial insemination and will require several inseminations before conceiving.

With so many breeders looking to produce the perfect dog, artificial insemination provides a means to bring together two dogs' bloodlines when in the past, it may not have been possible. Whether time, geographic or physical limitations, artificial insemination now overcomes those barriers and allows the merging of bloodlines and provides for a greater selection of desired traits.