Freezing Semen

Semen can be frozen at our hospital strictly by appointment only. Al we need is about 3-4 days prior notice. It is ideal that the stud be collected a few days ahead of the semen freezing day so that it can be confirmed that the dog is easy to collect from and that he has semen that is potentially suitable for freezing. This examination will confirm that there are adequate numbers and percentage of progressively sperm to start with and that there are sufficient numbers of morphologically normal sperm in the ejaculate. This examination however does not guarantee that the semen will freeze well.

Reasons for freezing of dog Sperm

Sperm is usually frozen from superior studs in order to preserve the genetics in case of the stud becoming infertile, untimely death, disease conditions that my necessitate castration or the effects of old age upon fertility. Such frozen sperm can be stored for a period exceeding the natural breeding life span of a dog. Semen may be stored for many decades without its quality deteriorating.

Semen freezing for export purposes

It is important to notify us if the semen is intended for export purposes and if so to which country. This is so because the various countries you wish to export to have special requirements regarding the testing of the stud for a variety of diseases. These tests should be performed on blood collected on or before the day of semen freezing and cannot be performed on blood collected on the days following the semen freezing. If you are in doubt whether you want to export or not we can collect blood before semen collection and perform the required tests later for the countries in which this is possible. It is however better to know upfront about possible export of the frozen semen.

Selecting the prospective semen donor

The donor must be of superb “genetic quality’, to ensure that the offspring resulting from the use of such semen will constitute a genetic gain for the breed and to ensure that the costs involved in freezing, storing and insemination are justified. The donor must have good “semen quality”. Poor quality semen is also less fertile than good quality semen. (The breeder who considers importing semen of a specific dog should request the owner of the dog to have the dog’s semen evaluated before the costs of freezing and shipping is incurred. Should it become known that the prospective donor has sub-optimal semen quality, the owner of the bitch must realize that the semen may have lowered fertility and the risk of lowered fertility and the high costs involved should be weighed against the desire to try and obtain offspring from that specific semen donor) The donor must not be too old, as the semen quality of dogs deteriorates with age. This deterioration is often due to a lowered sperm count in the ejaculate of the dog, poor sperm motility, poor sperm morphology and the presence of infections such as infection of the prostate. There are however exceptions of studs of 9 years and older that still have excellent quality semen that freezes well. It is, therefore, important for breeders to realize that they should not wait until their superior studs are old before having their semen frozen. Rather have the semen frozen as soon as the potential of a dog is realized, before the dog is too old.

It is strongly advised that prior to making an appointment for semen freezing that the stud be collected to determine whether the semen is suitability for semen freezing. It is also preferable that this collection takes place a couple of days prior to the semen freezing day as this usually results in improved quality at the next collection a few days later.

How much semen should one freeze from a dog?

Ideally, a bitch has to be inseminated daily for two consecutive days of her heat, ideally using about 50-100 million progressively motile thawed sperm on each of these days. Therefore, one needs 100-200 million motile sperm per heat period. A rough guideline to determine the number of times that semen from a dog has to be collected and frozen in order to have sufficient sperm for the two inseminations during one heat period is as follows: Two collections for small breeds and one collection for medium-sized and large breeds. We can collect most studs twice on the same day with about 2 hour intervals without significant reduction in sperm numbers. In males reluctant to ejaculate fully we can improve the sperm numbers in many cases by injecting a hormone about 10 minutes before collection with the owner’s consent. We strongly recommend that stud owner freezes at least 2 if not more ejaculates from the stud in order to have enough semen to use in more than one heat cycle to maximise the statistical likelihood of offspring and to ensure that enough semen is available to have acceptable conception rates. We also strongly advise against having semen frozen that is of inferior quality to start off with and that semen of exceedingly poor quality is not stored but discarded. The final decision regarding these issues however lies with the owner of the stud.