Why is my stud dog not producing sperm? The vast majority of male dog issues are low sperm count or volume, and must be addressed for successful breeding. His reproductive system is constantly working to produce sperm. Sperm matures in the epididymis at the base of the testicle where it is stored until needed. This process takes 62 days, so if a dog runs a fever or has testicular trauma, the stored sperm will die, and the dog will ejaculate dead sperm for a 60 day minimum.
Infertility in Male Dogs
Infertility is the inability to settle females (get them pregnant), and it can be caused by a mechanical issue. An exam is needed to rule out abnormality of the penis, sheath or testes or epididymis – looking for anything that can block the transfer of sperm through the urethra. Often, trauma is difficult to overcome and overlooked until infertility happens.
Brucellosis in Male Dogs
Canine brucellosis is a contagious bacterial infection caused by the bacterium, Brucella canis (B. canis). This bacterial infection is highly contagious between dogs. Infected dogs usually develop an infection of the reproductive system, or a sexually transmitted disease. There also is almost no clinical signs and shows itself by testicle swelling and late term abortions in females. But again is very contagious and can spread from dog to dog in a kennel setting. Screening can be done with the RAST test at the veterinary clinic. If this test is unavailable, a reference lab can be used. If this test shows a positive result, there is a second step to the test in the RAST kit. If both tests are positive, a reference lab should be used to confirm. Cornell’s AGID test is the gold standard. IF and only if this test is positive should the state veterinarian be contacted to report a positive test.
Sick Stud Dog
Sickness and fever are major issues with stud dogs. If males run a fever, sperm stored in the epididymis of the dog may die. For this reason, sick males should be diagnosed and treated immediately. We need to bring the fever down and use an appropriate antibiotic to correct the infection. If the fever reaches 103º or 104ºF, males may be infertile for 60 days. They may have sperm, but the sperm is often dead. When ill, monitor the fever and the effectiveness of the antibiotic for several days and evaluate sperm motility after recovery.
Urinary tract issues can cause infertility in males over five years of age, in spite of keeping the fever down. Use a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID),such as meloxicam to keep the fever in check. Use of an appropriate antibiotic if there is a bacterial infection can be initiated. Diagnosing the cause of the illness is important as antibiotic overuse is a concern. Doxycycline is the drug of choice for tick-borne diseases. Enrofloxacin or trimethoprim-sulfa can be good other choices, depending on the condition and breed of dog.
Stud dog fertility peaks at five years. If the stud is over five years old and has fertility issues, prostate disorders must be ruled out.
Prostatitis in Dogs
The prostate is the only accessory sex organ in the dog. Prostatic fluid is the largest component of semen volume. Prostate issues are common in males over four years of age and can be diagnosed with a rectal and ultrasound exam. Infected prostatic fluid and the white blood cells it contains can kill much of the sperm. There are few signs of prostatic disease, but you should always be suspicious if the stud dog is dribbling or has recurrent urinary tract infection. Rule out prostate issues any time you have a stud dog reluctant to breed, dribbling blood from prepuce, walks with stiff back legs, or shows blood or pus in semen, which are both toxic to sperm.
The treatment for prostatitis is lifetime finasteride and long-term antibiotics (four week minimum) and monitoring to make sure the semen clears. Sulfa-trimeth or enrofloxacin are commonly used. Painful breeding resolves when prostate swelling goes down. In severe cases, castration is the only good treatment to solve the issue.
What Can Cause Low Sperm Count in Dogs?
Low numbers of sperm in dogs are common and must be investigated. This can be corrected if cause is removed and the testicle is given nutritional support.
- Frequent breeding can lower sperm count. The reason is daily sperm production can’t keep up with demand. This can be corrected with sexual rest and Breeder’s Edge Oxy Stud™ nutritional support. Remember, you can use young males once a day without dropping sperm count. Older males need more time to recover sperm counts. To support healthy sperm production adding Breeder’s Edge Problem Male and Breeder’s Edge Get Him Going to your routine can support the production of healthy sperm, sufficient ejaculate volume and set him up for success.
- Recent testicular traumatic insult is common and must be observed to ensure recovery. Many of these dogs will completely eliminate sperm if we do not address the cause. Any infection, inflammation or trauma must be corrected if possible, and sperm production should be supported with Oxy Stud™ to avoid scaring of testicular tissue.
- Partial obstruction can be caused by trauma or testicular tumor. Palpation of the testicle (feeling for issues) may find the issue. Even dogs with a testicle tumor can regain fertility if the affected testicle is removed (be sure the correct testicle is removed) and the remaining one is nutritionally supported to increase sperm production.
Sub-Fertile – Common
- Post-infection with dead sperm or very few sperm produced is common.
- Sometimes for no apparent reason, males do not have enough sperm or volume to be considered fertile.
If small numbers of sperm are present, we have a better chance of helping to recover, than if there are no sperm present. If we don’t have any sperm being made, it is difficult to turn the testicle cells back on after they quit producing. L-Carnitine, vitamin D, anti-inflammatories and zinc are the most needed in sperm production, but several minor vitamins and minerals are needed as well. Oxy Stud™ and Problem Male contain all known nutrients for production and protection of sperm-producing tissue.
- Trauma needs the free radical scavenging of grape seed extract and traces of vitamin E and selenium to prevent permanent injury to cells. Literally, it keeps testicular cells from “rusting,” while L-Carnitine, zinc and vitamin D work to support healing.
- After two weeks on Oxy Stud, collect male sperm twice a week for two weeks. Eliminating the dead or damaged sperm will stimulate testicle cells to produce new.
- Reassess the sperm count in 60 days to confirm viable numbers of normal sperm to settle female.
- Five-year-old and older males benefit from Oxy Stud™ to maintain sperm counts. Testosterone produced in the testicles changes with age. This leads to the sperm-producing cells decreasing production with age. Oxy Stud™ will help maintain support reproductive health as they age.
Dead sperm may mean something killed the sperm after production by the testicle. A common cause is latex toxicity from syringe or soap and disinfectant in reuse of equipment. You cannot use disinfectants on AI equipment without residue! When it comes to how to keep dog sperm alive, the use of a collection cone and a semen safe syringe will eliminate residues killing sperm in the ejaculate.
Previously normal males suddenly becoming infertile with no sperm at all is rare, but it does happen. One cause may be that the male may have develop antibodies to sperm, causing the immune system to kill sperm with resulting testicular inflammation. Autoantibodies to sperm are described in certain families of Labradors, Shelties and Welsh Springer Spaniels. You can suspect the presence of antibodies to the sperm in the blood and confirm the cause, but there is no treatment. The testicle can be sore and swollen, so Brucellosis must be ruled out.
Passing your male’s genetics on to his puppies depends on a high level of sperm production. Protect your males. Remove infection or trauma and use Breeder’s Edge Oxy Stud™ to keep damaged cells from “rusting” and to stimulate the production of healthy sperm. Manage your pack effectively and they will breed effectively.
If you need help choosing the right stud dog fertility supplements or have other stud dog mating questions, call us at 800.786.4751.
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Learn about the four main prostate problems in dogs: canine prostate cancer, bph in dogs, canine prostatitis and para-prostatic cysts in dogs.
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Written by: Marty Greer, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.