A Note About The Series

This series covers the various health screening tests that are available to breeders to assist them in making breeding decisions. When you purchase a purebred puppy you should expect that a reputable breeder has done health screenings on the parents of that dog. In fact, you should expect that health screenings have been done on several generations of the dogs in your puppy’s pedigree.  See other posts in the series here.

This post is a bit of a departure from the topics that I have been covering in this series.  Canine fertility is something most puppy buyers never have to worry about. But breeders do.

Thunder had his semen collected and evaluated at a reproductive clinic that was held at the dog show over the weekend so I thought I would explain a little about this procedure.

Thunder Age 8
Thunder Age 8

Why Have A Stud Dog Evaluated?

There are many reasons a stud dog has his semen collected and evaluated.  It is done as the first step when semen is collected or  frozen for future use.  There is no sense storing semen that is of poor quality.  It may be done when there is reason to suspect that a stud dog has a medical condition or injury which may make him infertile.  Perhaps the stud has never sired a littler or or it has been some time since he was bred.  In Thunder’s case we had him evaluated because he will be 9 in March and as a dog ages he can become infertile.  It is just part of the natural aging process.

The Test

The evaluation is done by a vet that specializes in canine reproduction.  The cost is normally around $150.  Thunder had his evaluation done at the clinic so the test was offered at a discounted price of $95.

The vet does the collection.  Optimally the collection is done with the help of a “teaser” bitch in season, but it can be done without one present.  If you want the specific details of how the repro vet makes the collection, you can read about it by clicking here (PDF).  Once the vet has the sample, he or she does the evaluation using a microscope.

Thunder Heading To The Reproduction Clinic
Thunder Heading To The Reproduction Clinic

The Evaluation

The reproductive vet evaluates the semen for the following:

  • Volume- A lower volume can signal a fertility issue.
  • Clarity- The sample should be milky.  Clear semen may indicate lower sperm count.
  • Motility- This is expressed as a percentage which represents the number of sperm that are moving and making forward progress.  If the sperm are staying in one place and not moving forward, it may indicate a fertility issue.
  • Speed- The motile sperm are scored on a scale of 1-5.  1 being slow and 5 being the optimum.  Slow moving sperm may not be able to fertilize an egg.
  • Count- The repro vet evaluates the total sperm count in the entire sample collected and the count per milliliter of semen.  Obviously a low count would indicate a fertility problem.
  • Morphology- The vet examines the appearance of the sperm and notes any irregularities.  The sperm cells are stained and examined under a microscope.  They are counted up to 100 noting the number of normal and abnormal sperm, including the type of abnormality.  Some abnormal sperm within a sample is normal.  Too many in the sample may indicate infertility.  The sperm cells are also examined for the presence of other cells such as bacteria or blood cells which may indicate an infection or inflammation.

Normal values are:

Concentration = 200-400+ million sperm per ejaculate
Progressive motility >70%
Normal morphology >70%
This Was From Thunder's Last Evaluation In 2011
This Was From Thunder’s Last Evaluation In 2011

Once the reproductive vet has finished examining the sample, he or she offers an opinion on whether the stud has a fertility issue.  Sometimes fertility can be improved if the infertility is caused by an infection or a medication.  If the screening test indicates an issue, the stud dog owner may want to deal with the potential causes of the infertility and repeat the test.

 Good News

In case you missed yesterday’s post, Thunder received an positive evaluation.  He had a few changes from his last exam in 2011, but the vet was of the opinion that he should have no issue getting a bitch pregnant.

Thunder Received An Excellent Report
Thunder Is Still A Studly Stud


Semen Collection & Evaluation

Canine Semen Collection And Evaluation (PDF)

Managing Males–Infertile Or Sub-fertile Male (PDF)

12 thoughts on “Canine Health Screening Series–Stud Dog Fertility

    1. Thank you. I thought this would be a hard post to write, but the vet went over each value with me and I used the sources I cited to refresh my memory. It turned out to be one of the easier posts for this series.

      Thunder did sleep well that night, although I suspect it was more from standing around waiting for his eye exam….lol.

  1. It is snowing here. Hope the Brown dogs have a chance for some R & R after their busy weekend!
    And, yes, we would all say it was a good one. Breeders have a serious responsibility to protect the breed from potential health problems. Thank you for explaining something the average dog owner may not be familiar with, until there is a problem. Would like to see you focus a bit on possible prevention of issues? Hope that is not too much to ask? Thanks for your efforts on behalf of all
    man’s best friends!

  2. We’re about to have Sherman’s sperm evaluated and stored since he’s getting up there in years too. I always use to get so excited when I worked at the vet to see his little swimmers under the microscope and make sure the majority of them all were in good shape 🙂

  3. Mom has a friend in Germany who is a vet, and she wrote her doctorate paper on collecting and evaluating semen from dogs. Everyone teases her because of the topic she chose, but she knows all about dog semen!

  4. I am always on the female side of testing and breeding. Since I now have a male it was interesting to here what test and procedures they need.

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