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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.