Managing Males – Infertile or Sub-Fertile Male

Sperm is produced in the testicle and stored in the epididymis at the bottom. The number of live sperm and limited number of abnormal sperm correlates with ability to settle females. Both can be influenced by temperature, nutrition and trauma. When we check males we cannot call them sterile on the basis of one sample. Repeatable samples of dead sperm or lack of sperm is needed to declare a stud dog infertile. Always check at least three times over 60 days before declaring the stud dog sterile.

With fertility problems in males we prefer to collect several times during a 30-day period. Check to see if the stud dog has the ability to produce sperm by getting rid of the current store in the epididymis. There are multiple reasons for temporary infertility; from trauma to the testicle, infection and overheating. These reasons only apply to the stud dog that was recently fertile, has normal libido, but is now suddenly sub-fertile.

Stud dog health:

Stud dogs should have a CBC (complete blood count) and chemistry profile done so that a kidney or liver issue isn’t impacting fertility. A high white blood cell count on CBC indicates an underlying infection and the need for antibiotic. Infection can cause infertility two ways:

  1. Infection of the testicle or secondary glands such as the prostate causes low sperm count and or dead sperm. Long term antibiotic is used to correct this issue.
  2. Secondly the high body temp in a sick stud dog can kill the stored sperm rendering the male sterile for 60 days. We often use NSAID’s to bring elevated body temp down.


Both male and female fertility is affected by Brucella Canis. Any dog affected with testicular issues and infertility should have B. canis in the screening test. Likewise, any dog brought into the kennel for breeding should have Brucella testing to protect breeding stock and genetic investment.

Testicular trauma:

Dogs can get trauma from fighting or playing or an unseen cause. Male dog testicles should be similar in size and shape with no lumps or bumps. The testicles should not be painful during exam and the scrotum should be free of scar tissue or damage. Both testicles should be smooth and symmetrical. Any changes or scar tissue indicates trauma that happened in the past. Infertility should be suspected.

It is not always testicular trauma causing infertility. There are also some common drugs that can affect male fertility. These can include supplements with heavy metals, Cimetidine, Ketoconazole, Sulfasalazine, Hormones, Glucocorticoids, and Anabolic Steroids.

Sub-fertile Mangaement: One of the most frustrating parts of managing a fertility issue in the stud dog is waiting to see if he recovers. Only recently have we had any research to identify fertility issues - most occurring in the past 10 years.

Male Fertility Supplements:

There are many supplements that can benefit male fertility, and the list can be found in the Managing Males – Hot Weather Breeding article. Breeders' Edge® Oxy-Stud was developed to keep the stud dog fertile and has proven results regarding sperm volume and count. We have had success using it with older males to improve volume for freezing.

When breeding a sub-fertile male it is very beneficial to put them on Oxy-Stud™ year-round to support sperm production. They should also only breed every third day as limited use will increase the number of live, viable sperm per ejaculate. Lastly, never let sub-fertile males outside in the heat of the day, and it is best to breed early in the morning.

By utilizing testing, supplements and management you can increase your chances to recover your stud dog’s genetics through his offspring.

- Dr. B

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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