Breeding Management

If the goal of breeding is to produce puppies of higher quality than the parents, then prebreeding examination of the dam and sire is crucial to success. Both dogs should be evaluated for genetic disorders in their breed (see Chapter 29). Regardless of type of breeding intended (natural service versus artificial insemination) both the stud and dam should be tested for canine brucellosis (see Chapter 20). Genetic testing and brucellosis testing should be performed well in advance of the desired breeding to ensure that all tests can be completed before breeding occurs. Both dogs also should undergo a complete physical examination to identify abnormalities impacting the health of the adult dogs, disease conditions that could affect the pups, and physical abnormalities that may preclude breeding or whelping. Physical examination and semen evaluation of the male should be performed at least 2 months before breeding if there is a concern about semen quality. After any insult to the testes, it takes at least 2 months to see improvement in semen quality. Males that are used regularly for breeding may benefit from consistent physical examination and semen evaluation every 6 months. Physical examination of bitches before breeding should include a digital vaginal examination to assess for the presence of a vaginal anomaly that may preclude natural service or whelping (see Chapter 17). If a stricture is palpated when the bitch is not in heat, the vagina should be reevaluated when the bitch is in heat. Under the hormonal influence of heat, vaginal tissues become more elastic and the stricture may relax sufficiently to allow natural breeding. The owner of the stud dog may require vaginal culture of the bitch before mating. It must be recognized that the vagina is not sterile (Table 9-1). Semen is not sterile either, so if the owner of the male insists on a culture of the bitch, it is not untoward for the owner of the bitch to insist on a culture of the male. With either gender, a positive culture result does not mean anything in and of itself. A culture result can be considered significant only if there is moderate to heavy growth of one or two organisms. Mycoplasma culture is especially difficult to interpret because many laboratories will not give an idea of quantity when growth is reported. To treat all bitches with antibiotics when bred is not beneficial to the bitch or to the general population. It encourages development