How to Manage Infertility in a Stud DogLast updated: December 19, 2019
In general, reproductive failure and infertility are complex and multi-factorial. Infertility is defined as a reduced ability to produce young, while sterility is defined as a permanent inability to reproduce. Fertility is never guaranteed but the good news is infertility in male dogs is manageable. Your veterinarian can perform testing to assure you have the best possible opportunity to produce a litter.
Determine Dog Semen QualityWe start with a semen collection and analysis at a laboratory. A semen analysis should be completed prior to using the semen. There are four important and measurable aspects to semen quality:
- Sperm count: A sperm count (should be 10 million x the dog's weight in pounds). If no sperm are seen, send prostatic fluid to a reference lab for an alkaline phosphatase level.
- Sperm morphology: Morphology assesses the shape and appearance of each sperm cell. To do this the semen should be stained.
- Sperm motility (not mobility): The semen needs to be progressively motile, meaning it swims forward with vigor.
- Sperm longevity: Hold a small sample of semen in the refrigerator and reassess it 24 and 48 hours later. After being warmed up again, semen that is normal and has normal motility should still be swimming, progressively motile, for up to three days.
Perform a Male Diagnostic WorkupAfter assessing the semen quality, a male diagnostic workup should be done. A proper diagnostic workup for a male consists of:
- A complete medical and reproductive history evaluation.
- Vaccination history.
- Prior and current testing for infectious diseases.
- The health and reproductive history of other dogs in the kennel.
- Diet and supplements used, including CBD oil and essential oils.
- Kennel management such as ventilation, chemicals, and cleaning methods. Also, note the surfaces the dogs are housed on; mesh, concrete, asphalt, pea gravel, dirt.
- Medications, including any parasite control products.
- A comprehensive physical examination that includes checking the testes and prostate. An ultrasound can also be helpful.
- Laboratory testing of the semen to analyze the morphology, motility, count, and longevity of the semen.
- A blood test to evaluate the complete blood count and blood chemistry.
- Testing for tick-borne diseases and canine brucellosis.
The diagnostics should also include taking a sample of the dog's urine immediately after ejaculation to see if sperm is present, indicating retrograde ejaculation.
When to Freeze Dog SemenI recommend freezing semen when your males are young, between two and four years of age. Freeze them while they are healthy and producing great quality semen. It will cost you much less money to freeze their semen while they are young. If they later turn out to have a disorder you don't want in your breeding program, you can either wait until there is a DNA test you can use to determine how you can use him in your breeding program or discard the semen. If you chose not to keep your dog's semen preserved, check with your breed club and see if there are others who would value that precious resource.
If you have questions, call our Revival Pet Care Pros at 800.786.4751.
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 35+ 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.
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.