READER: We have a border collie, and she's the best herding dog we've ever owned. We want to breed her, and several friends want puppies. We can't find a male to breed her to, which has me wondering if dogs can be artificially bred like cattle.
DR. McMILLAN: Dogs can be artificially inseminated (AI), but there are several differences between dogs and cattle. The canine reproductive cycle is more difficult to manipulate and requires us to use a combination of vaginal cytology and progesterone levels to pinpoint optimal breeding time.
If natural breeding or an AI with fresh semen is not possible, fresh chilled or frozen semen can be used. Correct collection and processing are essential for success.
A process known as "transcervical insemination" increases success rates with fresh chilled and frozen semen. Surgical insemination is another option, but this increases the cost and risk because of the use of anesthesia.
If you choose to AI, ask a lot of questions. Locate a reputable breeder. The American Kennel Club or a border collie breed association should be of help. Make sure the breeder and his or her veterinarian have extensive experience in collection, processing of and use of fresh chilled or frozen semen.
-- Please contact your veterinarian with questions pertaining to the health of your herd. Every operation is unique, and the information in this column does not pertain to all situations. This is not intended as medical advice but is purely for informational purposes.
-- Write Dr. Ken McMillan at Ask The Vet, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email email@example.com
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