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How Artificial Insemination works when impregnating your dog.

My dog Coco visited her stud, Hollow, this past week to get pregnant. It wasn't the typical scenario of leaving two dogs alone together to let nature take its course. Hollow is a stud from JW Doodles, located nearby in Spanish Fork, Utah. The breeders there are experienced and can perform Artificial Insemination (AI) right from their house.


So, how does it work?


Artificial Insemination for your dog can be done at a vet's office or by an experienced breeder. The first important step is timing. Coco visited the breeder who had Hollow and got her progesterone test, which I discuss in another blog post. When her levels were in the right range, Hollow was brought over.



A Bernedoodle laying down with another excited Bernedoodle standing above her.
Yeah....I would be nervous too


For my virgin dog, this was intimidating. Hollow was very excited, zooming right over and smelling Coco's hindquarters and her diaper, which we used for her bleeding during her heat, very aggressively. I held Coco, and she was very nervous and remained still. Before Hollow could mount her, his breeder intervened and collected his sperm in a bag. Hollow was then taken outside so Coco could relax.



An amazon product page of a dog insemination kit.
I found this kit on Amazon. It was surprisingly cheap.

The sperm was then put inside a pipette, giving a sensation similar to regular mating. Coco was much more receptive to this method. We brought Coco back two days later and repeated the process. This time, Coco was more defensive towards Hollow, growling at him as he approached. Hollow, sweet as ever, gave her space while staying "excited." We thought Coco might be getting over her heat cycle and wasn't ready, but she was fine with the pipette process again. Afterward, she stayed in the "downward dog" position until I let her know it was okay to get up.


She then went over to say hi to Hollow through the glass door leading to the backyard. She probably wanted to be friends first.



Two Bernedoodles on a date in front of fancy teacups
Add a touch of old-fashioned courting


What are the pros and cons of using AI over live cover? Live cover is the term given to the natural breeding process.


Artificial Insemination (AI):


Pros:

  • Safety and Health: AI eliminates the risk of physical injury or transmission of sexually transmitted diseases between dogs during mating.

  • Convenience: It allows breeding between dogs that are geographically distant without the need for travel.

  • Genetic Diversity: AI can be used to breed dogs from different parts of the world, enhancing genetic diversity.

  • Controlled Timing: It provides more control over the timing of insemination, crucial for achieving a successful pregnancy.

  • Use of Stored Semen: AI allows the use of frozen semen, enabling breeding from valuable genetics even after a male dog's passing.

  • Selective Breeding: It enables more selective breeding practices, as breeders can choose specific traits from the sire.

Cons:

  • Cost: AI can be more expensive than natural mating, involving veterinary costs and sometimes the cost of semen collection and storage.

  • Skill and Expertise Required: Proper AI techniques require skill and veterinary expertise, especially when using frozen semen.

  • Lower Success Rates: AI, particularly with frozen semen, can have lower success rates compared to live cover.

  • Health Checks: It requires thorough health checks and hormone monitoring to ensure optimal timing, adding to the complexity and cost.


Live Cover (Natural Mating):


Pros:

  • Higher Success Rates: Generally, live cover has a higher chance of successful impregnation compared to AI.

  • Less Technical: It doesn’t require the same level of technical expertise or equipment as AI.

  • Cost-Effective: Live cover is usually less expensive than AI, as it often only involves a stud fee.

Cons:

  • Risk of Injury or Disease: There's a risk of physical injury to either dog during mating and potential transmission of diseases.

  • Geographical Limitation: Live cover requires the physical presence of both dogs, which can be limiting if they are geographically distant.

  • Less Control Over Genetics: With live cover, there is less opportunity to utilize genetics from distant or deceased dogs.

  • Behavioral Issues: Some dogs may have behavioral issues that make live cover challenging or unsafe.


We used fresh semen, and the stud owner did the AI instead of a vet. It was free, so I only needed to pay the stud fee. Coco growled at Hollow the second time, so she might not have been receptive to natural breeding. We did the progesterone testing before breeding, so hopefully, the timing was perfect.


Our next step is to wait 33 days and check if Coco is pregnant via ultrasound. Right now, that is the earliest way to confirm pregnancy. Wish us luck!



A happy dog looking at an ultrasound with puppy embryos.
Hopefully not that big of a litter



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