Canine Frozen Semen FAQ
Why Have Frozen Semen?
Long Term Storage – If your stud has positive enduring qualities which should be preserved for the breed or your own future breeding program, you should have his semen frozen. This will guarantee his breeding availability for future generations.
For Breedings When The Stud Is Not Available – There are times when the stud dog is not available when an individual bitch needs to be bred. The reason may be due to a show or trial schedule, booked stud services, temporary illness or injury or any other logistical scheduling conflict that could limit a stud’s availability.
Long Distance and International Breeding – Long distance breedings may be accomplished without shipping either the bitch or stud dog by using either chilled/extended or frozen semen.
How is Semen Collected?
Semen is collected from the stud dog by manual stimulation. The different parts, or fractions, of the ejaculate are collected separately so that good quality sperm-rich semen is frozen and stored. In general, semen of best quality and higher counts are collected when the stud dog’s libido is high. We try to simulate a typical breeding situation for each stud and encourage owners to provide a bitch in heat to use as a “teaser”. In addition, if the stud dog associates a particular item with breeding, such as a rug, table, breeding rack, etc., that item may be helpful and should be brought to the appointment. If appropriate, we may recommend an injection that is temporary and without lasting effects to help increase libido. It is often recommended to wait for a teaser prior to scheduling a frozen semen collection appointment unless time constraints exist.
What Happens After Semen is Collected?
Immediately after the collection, the semen is evaluated microscopically. We have a video screen attached to the microscope that enables us to show you the sample as it is analyzed. If the quality is acceptable for freezing, the sample is then extended with a buffer solution that protects the cells during freezing and thawing. A sperm count is performed and the sample is further diluted to a uniform concentration. The diluted semen sample is then divided into multiple individually labeled straws – the number of straws is determined by the initial sperm count. After a gradual cooling and freezing process, one “partial” straw is thawed and examined for motility and quality. An average post thaw motility is 40-60% – this means that 40-60% of the original sperm cells have survived the freeze and thaw process.
How Long Does the Collection and Freezing Process Take?
Typically the entire process takes 3-4 hours from the time of the collection. However, clients need only be present for the collection process which may take 15-30 minutes. Additional time may be required in the office as all appropriate paperwork needs to be complete at the time of collection.
How and Where is the Frozen Semen Stored?
We are an AKC approved permanent storage facility. Frozen semen is stored within our facility in a specialized insulated container called a dewar that contains liquid nitrogen. The frozen semen is held in liquid nitrogen vapors at a temperature of -196 degrees Centigrade or approximately 300 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. This temperature is maintained and keeps the semen viable indefinitely. Since the container does not require electricity, there is no fear of accidental thawing due to a power failure.
How Much Semen Will be Stored From Each Collection?
The number of straws stored is directly dependant on your stud dog’s sperm count. The quantity and quality of semen produced in one ejaculate can vary, sometimes considerably in a short period of time from dog to dog and collection to collection. Factors that can affect your stud’s semen quality include:
Age – In general, a young mature dog (2-4 years of age) will have a higher sperm count and better quality semen than older or immature dogs.
General Health Status – An ill or stressed dog will rarely produce good quality semen. It can take as long as 3-6 months following recovery from illness or marked stress for the ejaculate to return to normal. Some medications, both prescription and over the counter, can affect sperm production.
Size – In general, large breeds produce more sperm cells than smaller breeds. Toy breeds will often need to have semen collections done several times to store enough sperm to breed one bitch, whereas a large or giant breed might produce enough sperm in one collection to inseminate multiple bitches. It is the number of sperm cells, not the volume of the collection that is important.
Disposition and Temperament – In general, an experienced stud dog produces better semen quality than one who doesn’t fully understand the collection process and what is expected of him. It may be advisable to have a young or inexperienced dog collected once or twice prior to having semen stored in order to acclimate him to the process. If a stud dog is shy or nervous, his semen numbers may be poor and preclude freezing and storing the collection. In addition, a dog that is accustomed to having people around and being handled while breeding will fare better when having semen collected. We strive to simulate a natural breeding for a frozen semen collection attempt – a bitch in heat standing in front of the stud dog assists the collection process.
Is it Worthwhile to Attempt Semen Freezing With an Unproven Stud?… An Older Stud?… An Ill Dog?
If a dog is producing motile sperm cells, it is useful to attempt to freeze his semen. Generally, if semen numbers and/or quality are compromised, only a small quantity of viable sperm cells will be stored. While this will give you an “insurance policy” bank of semen, every attempt should be made to either breed your stud with fresh semen or improve semen quality and freeze subsequent collections.
What Kind of Paperwork and Record Keeping Are Necessary?
A copy of the stud’s individual registration papers and positive identification including microchip or tattoo and current photos are usually required. The stud owner’s signature must be obtained so that we may file appropriate paperwork with the stud dog’s registration body. After the semen is collected and stored, the stud dog owner will receive written information regarding the collection statistics and a yearly storage bill.
What is The Success Rate For Breeding With Frozen Semen?
Individual success will vary depending on the semen quality, bitch fertility and procedures used for the breeding. Parameters exist for the appropriate use of frozen semen for a breeding and should be investigated in advance of a bitch’s heat cycle. Often it is a better option to delay the use of frozen semen until the stud dog is deceased or cannot provide fresh semen for any reason.
Please send any reproductive-related questions to [email protected] to ensure a prompt response from our reproductive experts.