A SHARED BREEDING EXPERIENCE - SPRAGUE'S SURGICAL IMPLANT
by Tamara Cady


Breeding a bitch for the first time can be a nerve wracking experience. It doesn't matter how many litters one has had, or how many years one has been involved in the world of breeding dogs. The fact is that producing a planned litter is filled with many anxious moments because there are so many variables to consider.

Ideally, a breeder would have been hypothetically planning the mating a long time before the bitch matures. Doing one's homework will help reduce stress when it come to actually putting the plan into action.

We learned a long time ago not to place all hope into one dog when it comes to selecting a prospective mate. The smart breeder will have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, etc and will have studied more than one single male that would suit the bitch both genetically and phenotypically. They will have a hypothetical path to follow if there is a change of plan. If the first choice male is not available when the bitch is in heat, then having a back up plan will facilitate the goal.

Many newcomers assume they will offend a stud owner if they express they are forumlating a back up plan for their bitch. Stud owners should look upon such a person who has a plan as someone with well-intetioned thoughts and goals in their commitment to produce a quality litter.

We have always planned years ahead regarding the direction we are taking with our bitches. We analyze every breeding on paper. We observe both prospective mates as they mature and study the get on the ground. Being familiar with the male's qualities and staying in good communication with his owners will help finalize decisions on who is best suited to the bitch.

For the most part, we prefer to take the artificial route with our breedings. We are ableto see the quality of semen, reduce the chance of passing along any bacteria from either dog, minimize injury risk to either dog and increase the chance for the semen to feritlize the eggs.

For this particular breeding with the red maiden, Sprague, we have opted to surgically implant fresh chilled semen from a male who lives on the other coast. Our other choice males are in a frozen state and because the semen is extremely limited, it was not a chance we would want to take with a bitch that has never conceived a litter.

With this in mind, we opted to the alternative plan - a breeding that would join our program's genetics with Al & Diane Batchelor's, "Tru Grit" program. Having studied their program over the years, this was an exciting venture to consider - especially since one of our male's ancestry can be traced back to their line.

Once our sire is selected, it is a matter of waiting for the bitch's heat cycle. The advantage of having an astute stud dog on our property is that we know days before the bitch actually spots blood that their heat cycle is pending. Our male, Tug, lets us know the time is near because this normal chowhound will refuse his meals.

When we see definite signs that our bitch is cycling, we contact the stud owner and let them know that she is in heat. We also call our vet and schedule a progesterone test to see where her present level is. Progesterone tests are performed by asimple blood draw. The blood is spun down to plasma and measured for its progesterone level.

Progesterone tests are measured in nanograms (ng). If a bitch has alow progesterone concentration level (below 1.0 ng), then it indicates that she is not ready to ovulate. When her progesterone concentration begins to rise (above 2.0 ng), it indicates that she is approaching ovulation. It takes approximately three days for the egg to mature following ovulation to be fertilized. Therefore, mating should be planned between 4-6 days after the levels reach 2.0 ng. When the level peaks (5.0 - 9.0 ng) this indicates the eggs are now mature and ready to be fertilized.

Sperm can live in the reproductive tract long enough for the eggs to mature and it is often noted that higher reproduction rate occurs when semen is introduced a day or two after ovulation.This is why it is so important one should utilize progesterone timing tests when it comes to the success of a long distance planned breeding. It is additionally just as important for all parties involved to know what type of breeding (vaginal, endoscopic or surgical insemination) is going to take place because the timing does differ with each procedure.

Depending on preservation methods used: Fresh semen can live up to 4 hours after it is ejaculated; diluted and cooled semen can live 4 days and lastly; diluted frozen semen can be preserved indefinitely until it is used. What incredible advances in canine breeding!