Breeder's Notebook

Why Go With AI? Artificial insemination opens a world of opportunities for breeders.


A friend recently planned to breed her bitch to a top stud, and had insisted on a natural breeding. Like many people, she was adamant about natural rearing. A few weeks later, I asked how it went. “We had to have an artificial insemination,” she admitted sheepishly. Then she mentioned that the stud had never been bred naturally. Although such statements tend to set off alarms in breeds that usually conceive the natural way, there might be good reasons why AI is the best way to go.

The first documented case of AI in a mammal was in a dog, back in the 1700s. Since then, the process has become much more sophisticated – more so in livestock and in humans, but also in dogs. The first AI using stored dog semen occurred in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s that frozen semen became widely available to dog breeders. Only in the last decade or so has it become almost routine for stud-dog owners to store their dog’s semen.

AI involves several different procedures. Semen can be fresh, chilled or frozen, and can be deposited in the bitch vaginally, transcervically or surgically. Each procedure has advantages and disadvantages.
Why AI?
Breeders may elect to inseminate with fresh semen if the breeding pair simply can’t accomplish a natural breeding, because of height differences, because one has a physical infirmity (such as arthritis or a missing limb), or if the female rejects the male.

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