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Dog breeding can be complicated

Experience: Echuca-Moama Veterinary Clinic nurse Denise Berghofer has been raising German Shepherds like three-year-old Atlas for over 30 years. Photo by Steve Huntley

With just one pup worth thousands of dollars, it’s no wonder we’ve seen an increase in the number of people interested in breeding their dogs.

John Anstee of the Echuca-Moama Veterinary Clinic said the most important aspect of the breeding process is a plan, whether that plan involves natural mating or artificial insemination.

“With the value of dogs and people raising more, having a litter is more important,” Dr. Anstee said.

“The biggest problem with dogs that don’t get pregnant is breeding without a plan.”

Dr Anstee said the first step in a selection management plan is to find the right candidates.

“We want the right male, we want the right female and we want them ready at the same time,” he said.

“With the males, we do a pre-breeding exam to make sure he’s healthy, that there are no underlying infections, and then we take a semen sample to make sure that he is fertile, everything is normal and there are no problems.

“With the female, they have a heat cycle and people will see when they first come into heat that they start to bleed a bit, but when they are ready to inseminate is quite variable.

“We do hormone blood tests to determine when they are ready to go.

“The good thing about it is we don’t have to put them through programs or stress, we get blood tests within 15 to 30 minutes here.”

The speed of testing means calls can be made the same day to ensure pregnancy is likely.

Breeders can opt for natural, fresh, or frozen-chilled AI early in pregnancy, however, Dr. Anstee recommends natural breeding from a health perspective.

“The best kind of breeding is always natural, and we urge applicants to do natural breeding, because there are a lot of physiological and biological benefits to that,” he said.

“When we need it, we do fresh AI, and when we use frozen or chilled sperm, we have to use more advanced AI techniques.”

Dr Anstee said frozen or chilled AI had the advantage of being able to incorporate different genetics into the mix, with samples sourced from across Australia and around the world.

“We use our genetic shed in Deniliquin to store frozen samples from around the world, but our main focus in Echuca is to start this breeding management plan because not having this plan in place is the number one cause of failure of reproduction,” he said. .

“We make sure the male is the right candidate, then when the female comes into heat we do serial blood tests to see when she is most fertile.

“Depending on the technique we use, the timing differs to some extent.”

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