Canine Reproduction

Here at Paragon Veterinary Referrals we offer a full, specialised Canine Reproduction Service. Our reproduction team is led by Louise McLean, a Veterinary Surgeon with many years experience of small animal veterinary care with a particular interest in endocrinology and reproduction.

Louise has studied canine reproduction in the United States and has brought the very best of techniques back to the UK.

Our services include:

  • Bitch progesterone testing
  • Dog fertility examination, including semen evaluation
  • Semen chilling
  • Semen freezing
  • Frozen semen storage
  • Bitch breeding management
  • Vaginal insemination
  • Trans-cervical insemination

Bitch progesterone testing

Bitch progesterone measurement is a vital part of breeding management. It allows us to time ovulation and hence identify the optimum time for natural mating or insemination. We usually recommend you start sampling from day 5-7 of her season (earlier if she has short heats or has been problematic to get pregnant in the past). Re-sampling intervals will be recommended by us but is usually every 2-3 days. We use CTDS Laboratories for our progesterone assays with the benefits of high analytical performance and quality assurance.

Dog fertility examination and semen evaluation

We offer a full stud dog fertility examination service. As Louise is a Veterinary Surgeon it means she is able to not only evaluate the semen but she can also examine the dog. This means you are receiving a complete service to fully assess the fertility of your stud dog.

Louise can also trial chill or freeze your dogs semen to assess its suitability for preservation by these methods.

Collection of semen from stud dogs is usually a fairly straight forward procedure, as long as the dog is used to having people around him during mating. Bringing a bitch on heat with you that the dog can mount with usually help with semen collection and may improve the quality of sample collected.

Semen chilling

After collecting semen from your stud dog, we mix it with an extender and chill it which preserves the sperm. Extenders can preserve chilled semen for 2 to 10 days (depending on the type of the extender) at 70% of original motility.

The semen can be shipped abroad contained in a ‘Chill box’ which keeps semen at the correct temperature for up to 48 hours. It is possible to ship semen to as far away as the United States and Eastern Europe depending on flights and courier service.

Chilled semen can also be imported to the UK from Europe. To import chilled semen to the UK the stud dog must qualify under the Pets Passport scheme. Chilled sperm will only live a day or so once introduced in to the bitch so correct timing is critical.

Semen Freezing

Our Canine Reproduction Service offers a full semen evaluation, freezing and storage service. Once semen has been collected and evaluated for fertility it can be frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen at -196°C. Then it can be kept for many hundreds of years without any deterioration in quality. This allows international shipping of semen and also the preservation of semen long after the stud dog is no longer fertile or even alive.

The quality of semen produced by dogs deteriorates with increasing age of the dog, so the optimum age to collect a sample of semen for freezing is when the dog is between the ages of 3 and 5 years.

Paragon Reproduction can also assist you with importing frozen semen to the UK. We recommend that you start arranging to import frozen semen early, as getting everything in place can take time. Once the frozen semen arrives with us it can be stored until required.

Frozen Semen Storage

Paragon Canine Reproduction Service has a semen bank which allows straws of frozen semen to be stored indefinitely. The semen is stored in liquid nitrogen in large flasks at -196°C. This storage facility allows us to store semen from the stud dogs of clients for potential use in the future, export or to hold imported frozen semen while awaiting insemination into the brood bitches of clients.

The legal ownership of the frozen semen straws stored with us remains with the owner of the originating stud dog until the owner agrees to its use or transfer elsewhere.

Bitch Breeding Management

The correct timing of mating or insemination of bitches is of vital importance in successful breeding. In the majority of bitches who fail to conceive the problem is poor breeding management and incorrect timing of mating. Progesterone testing is critical to successful bitch management and by measuring your bitch’s blood progesterone concentration we can monitor your bitch’s heat and assess the optimum time for mating or insemination. Progesterone levels aren’t the only factor that we take into consideration, as a qualified veterinary surgeons Louise can assess your bitch fully for any anatomical or medical problems which may reduce fertility.

Louise can also assess the progress of the heat by vaginoscopy and vaginal cytology if required. We may also measure LH (luteinising hormone) which can be used to confirm when ovulation occurs in a bitch with an unusual pattern of progesterone secretion.

Artificial Insemination

Vaginal insemination

Paragon Canine Reproduction Service offers a vaginal insemination service using fresh or chilled semen; it is not usually considered suitable for frozen semen but can be used in exceptional circumstances. We use the MiniTϋB MAVIC vaginal insemination catheters for this, which we believe are the best vaginal insemination catheters available.

The MAVIC catheters are designed to mimic as much as possible, the natural mating process. An inflatable cuff in the catheter mimics the effect of the bulbus glandis of the dog’s penis on the bitch’s vagina which stimulates vaginal contractions and hence assists the sperm movement into the uterus. The inflatable cuff also prevents the leakage of semen from the vagina and hence removes the need to elevate the bitch’s hind quarters after insemination.

Trans-cervical insemination

Louise can inseminate semen directly into the uterus by passing a catheter through the cervix under endoscopic guidance. This will maximise the fertility whether using fresh, chilled or frozen semen as long as the bitch is in the maximal fertile period as timed by progesterone tests. Where only poor quality semen is available a correctly timed trans-cervical insemination gives the best chance of producing a litter.

Artificial insemination and the Kennel Club

The Kennel Club will accept registration of puppies whelped from bitches bred by artificial insemination provided that;

  • All litters produced by AI will be subject to existing Kennel Club registration regulations.
  • The Kennel Club will accept an application to register a litter produced by AI from either overseas dogs or those domiciled in the United Kingdom but the AI must be declared on the litter application form.
  • Litters produced by AI from maiden dogs or bitches will be accepted, but their progeny should produce a natural litter before they themselves are involved in an AI breeding. If the sire or dam subsequently produces a litter naturally the restriction on AI for the progeny no longer applies.

For further information refer to Kennel Club:

Other services

Ultrasound pregnancy diagnosis

Pregnancy detection by ultrasound carried out from 25 days after ovulation is generally very accurate. It can also give a rough idea of litter size although it is difficult to give an accurate number in larger litters. Ultrasound examination is also the best way to assess the viability of puppies in utero when problems with pregnancy arise.

Whelping assistance/Caesareans

With many veterinary practices passing their out of hours commitments to external clinics it can be worrying when help is needed at whelping time. Having to find your way to a different practice to see a vet who is unfamiliar to you, can be worrying and may be an additional stress for your bitch.

Here at Paragon Canine Reproduction Service we cover our own out of hours and emergency service so we are available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. So you can rest assured that should you need advice or your bitch needs to be seen, you will be able to talk to a member of our team who has additional training in canine reproduction and who will be familiar with your bitch’s history and you can be seen at our own premises.

In addition, Paragon Veterinary Referrals are committed to best practice and all our team members undergo additional surgical training. So should your bitch require a caesarean you can rest assured that she and her pups will be in safe hands.