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Colour is a side effect of the heat cycle.    Canine's typical 21 day heat cycle.  
Vaginal swabs under a microscope will show cornification when she is ready to breed The Latest Innovation In A.I
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I strongly feel bulldog breeders don't have a choice, AI is the only way to breed, preformed correctly it's safe and a lot less stressful for both dogs.    

Dog breeding can be confusing for breeders and owners, especially those just getting started.

For example, natural mating or artificial insemination (AI) are the first options to consider. If AI is chosen, then you must decide whether to use fresh semen, fresh chilled semen or frozen semen. Then, you must consider whether to use vaginal insemination or surgical insemination to impregnate the bitch. It is helpful to contact a veterinarian who specializes in AI to help you better understand the process and to supervise the process.

When weighing dog breeding options, your most important concerns should be to protect your animal and to make sure the potential results are satisfactory to both breeders.

If things were ideal, a tied mating through natural breeding would achieve maximum fertility and result in a successful litter. However, in breeding, conditions are not always ideal, with the new catheter that mimics natural breeding AI success is getting better.

Avoiding Breeding Concerns

Behavioral problems are a frequent reason breeders turn to AI. A nervous or aggressive bitch who will not allow a stud to mount her or a stud dog who doesn't understand the process are examples.

"Sometimes you'll run into a stud dog, especially a young one, that just doesn't get it," says Fran Smith, DVM, Ph.D., a small-animal theriogenologist in Burnsville, MN. "On the other hand, behaviour in experienced stud dogs is remarkable. An experienced dog can detect receptive behaviours in the bitch."

Some dogs simply won't attempt to breed. "If every time your dog tried to mount another dog before you decided to use him as a stud, you corrected it as negative behaviour, then his sexual behaviour might be affected by the past experiences, "Smith says.

An excitable dog that becomes erect before penetrating the vagina is another example of a sex behaviour problem. Normally a male dog becomes fully erect after penetration; otherwise, vaginal penetration is shallow and the mating dogs are unable to tie for successful breeding.

A dog's environment also can play a role in sexual behaviour. Male dogs are territorial and perform best on their home turf. Their sexual behaviour may be inhibited in a strange place. For natural mating, the bitch should be brought to the male's home. If it's not possible, or if the male exhibits aggressive behaviour toward the bitch, then AI is an option.

The Advantages of AI

As a breeding option, AI offers distinct advantages. It provides convenience for owners and breeders. It eliminates the cost, risk and time involved in shipping bitches. From the stud owner's point of view, if the dog is having a great field or show year, AI allows his semen to be collected and used to inseminate bitches without disrupting current activities.

AI using frozen semen allows breeders to continue breeding from an outstanding stud long after he is dead. For the young stud showing great promise, his semen can be collected and stored in the event of his untimely death or infertility.

Another benefit of AI is its exactness. Semen quality and quantity is known. In natural mating, people hope for the best and deal with anything less afterward. Since AI allows dogs to be bred without coming in contact with each other sexually, the risk of transmitting sexual diseases also is minimized.

Robert Hutchison, DVM, a canine reproduction specialist in North Ridgeville, OH, says the choices for AI are clear. "if the bitch is ready and the stud dog is nearby, then by all means naturally mate the animals," he says. "But, if for some reason they can't or won't mate, then using AI with fresh semen is the way to go. If the stud dog is not available, then AI with fresh chilled semen is the next best option."

Fresh semen that is chilled or cooled stays best up to six days, with maximum fertility limited to the first 48 hours. In the uterus, sperm cells that have been chilled at 40 degrees Fahrenheit are viable for 24 to 72 hours. This narrow window of viability means owners, breeders, and veterinarians must time ovulation and inseminate as precisely as possible.

Both Smith and Hutchison agree that quality of the semen, the correct number of high-quality sperm cells available for each insemination, and the timing of the insemination are key to producing the largest litters of healthy pups.

"When proper timing of the estrous cycle is performed and proper semen handling and delivery is accomplished, AI conception rates rival those of natural breeding," says Hutchison. Problems in otherwise healthy animals that reduce AI efficiency include improper placement of the semen rod, improper placement of the semen, and semen damage due to mishandling.

Methods of Insemination

Vaginal insemination involves inserting a rod loaded with semen into the bitches vagina and advancing it to the cervix opening. Called the os, the cervical opening is the ideal place to deposit semen. Once the rod is in place, the semen is deposited and the rod is withdrawn. The new catheter allows you to mimic a tied breeding .

Surgical insemination allows for direct insemination of the semen into the uterus. Similar to the technique used to spay a bitch, it involves injecting semen into the exposed uterus through a needle. Surgical conception rates using frozen semen closely match those of natural mating, Hutchison says. Fresh chilled semen can also be used in surgical AI.

Surgical insemination provides an opportunity to examine the bitches suspected of having uterine or ovarian diseases. In addition, giant and toy breeds, with historically poor conception rates, can benefit from surgical insemination. The technique also benefits males with low sperm-cell counts who have difficulty impregnating bitches in natural breeding.

Laparoscopic insemination, a less invasive and potentially faster surgical procedure, is a new technique becoming more prevalent. In laparoscopy, a small telescope inserted into the bitch's abdomen is used to locate and identify the uterus for semen injection.

Regardless of the type of artificial insemination used, it is important to properly prepare a stud dog's semen for transportation. Extenders are chemical solutions added to semen for transport or frozen storage. Though extenders do not determine AI success, say Smith and Hutchison, without them semen would not survive. Extenders increase the volume and protect sperm cells from factors that can reduce their ability to fertilize the ovum. "There is no "magic" extender," Hutchison says. "For instance, we use three different formulas."

A good extender needs to do four things. "It needs to have the right pH, a measure of the acid/base balance in a solution; it needs to have the high morality, a measure of a solution's concentration; it needs to provide a source of nutrition and energy for the cells, and it needs to be formulated to protect the cells through the critical phases of chilling and warming or freezing and thawing," Hutchison says.

Registering AI Litters

Owners and breeders considering artificial insemination (AI) to produce registered dogs are advised to contact breed registries and their national breed kennel club to learn the latest policies and guidelines.

Most kennel clubs encourage breeders to communicate early and often and to keep meticulous records of their correspondence, especially when considering using imported semen. Written correspondence sent by registered mail, return receipt requested, is crucial for documentation in the event there is a question regarding registration.

While some kennel clubs have a voluntary registration program and make no distinction regarding the AI method used to produce a litter, others require DNA certification for stud dogs collected for fresh, extended, and frozen semen use, including foreign stud dogs collected for imported semen use in the United States. Some organizations require that a veterinarian be involved in the process.

When frozen semen is used, registration rules are sometimes more stringent. Some kennel clubs require semen collectors/stores to be on record as complying with record keeping regulations and identification of dogs. In addition, a special litter application form must be submitted containing the certifications completed by the owner of the semen, the owner of the dam, and the veterinarian who performed the artificial insemination.

Use of imported frozen semen is sometimes considered only on a case-by-case basis and provided the breed registry or kennel club has received notification several months before an intended insemination.

 To obtain registration policy and guideline information, contact breed registries and your national breed kennel club. Some clubs even post registration information on the Internet

Canine Ovulation Timing

The estrous cycle of the bitch consists of four stages:

1. Proestrus:

Proestrus begins with the observable signs of heat, such as vulvar swelling, the onset of a bloody vaginal discharge, and attraction of males. Hormonally, proestrus is characterized by rising estrogen levels.

2. Estrus:

Behavioral estrus is the period of female receptivity, including such behavior as "flagging" and "winking". The vulva will soften and decrease in size, and often the discharge will change from bloody to clear or straw - colored. Hormonally, estrus begins with the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge and is characterized by declining estrogen and rising progesterone levels. Ovulation and the fertile period occur during this stage.

3. Diestrus:

Diestrus begins approximately 8 days (range 6- 10 days) after the LH surge, and signifies the end of the fertile period. Progesterone levels continue to rise and remain elevated during diestrus in all normal bitches whether pregnant or not; this elevation in progesterone is necessary to maintain a pregnancy.

4,.Anestrus:

Anestrus is the transition period between one cycle and the next. Progesterone levels return to baseline, either abruptly just prior to whelping, or gradually in the non-pregnant bitch, The reproductive tract "rests" for several months, while some hormonal changes occur to prepare the bitch for her next cycle.

IMPORTANT HORMONES

Estrogen:

During proestrus, serum estrogen levels rise slowly over a period of 1 0 to 14 days, peak 2 to 3 days before estrus, and then decline rapidly. Estrogen's, major role is to prepare the reproductive system for breeding; therefore peak estrogen levels are reached prior to ovulation. These changes in estrogen levels result in:

1 . Behavioral changes

2. An increased turnover rate of vaginal epithelial cells (the cells lining the wall of the vagina). This process results in the changes seen in vaginal cytology.

3. Progressive swelling of the Female reproductive tract and bloody vaginal discharge.

Blood estrogen levels are not reliable for timing breedings, however, because levels vary significantly from bitch to bitch, and there is no meaningful way to standardize the results. In addition, changes in estrogen are not directly correlated to the fertile period.

Luteinizing Hormone:

Normally LH is present in very small quantities. In early estrus, a significant increase in serum LH, followed by a return to baseline values, occurs rapidly, usually over a 24-hour period. It is this surge in LH that triggers ovulation, and thus determines the fertile period of the bitch. All events subsequent to the LH surge are consistent between bitches. Therefore, LH is the most accurate diagnostic tool for timing breedings. Serial daily blood samples can be performed to measure luteinizing hormone and identify the LH surge and the fertile period.

Progesterone:

Blood progesterone levels stay at a low baseline level during late anestrus and proestrus, and begin to rise at the time of the LH surge. Progesterone then remains elevated for two to three months. These increasing levels of progesterone, together with decreasing estrogen levels, cause the reduction in swelling of the reproductive tract that occurs during estrus. Increased progesterone is also necessary to maintain pregnancy. Measurement of blood levels of this hormone is consistent between bitches and simple to perform. Therefore, serial blood samples can be performed to identify the initial rise in progesterone that coincides with the LH surge, and breedings may be based on this parameter.

OVULATION AND THE FERTILE PERIOD

Ovulation is triggered by the LH surge, which causes the ovaries to release the developing ova, or eggs. Ovulation occurs 48 hours after the LH surge. The ova cannot be fertilized upon their immediate release from the ovaries, however. A subsequent maturation step, requiring 2 to 3 days, must occur before sperm penetration and fertilization can take place. Once -the eggs are mature, they remain viable for approximately 2 to 3 more days before they begin to degenerate. Thus, the actual fertile period of the bitch is only 2 to 3 days long, begins 4 or 5 days after the LH surge (2 or 3 days after ovulation), and occurs just prior to the onset of diestrus.

PROGESTERONE ASSAY

Blood progesterone levels are extremely reliable for ovulation timing when doing natural breedings or fresh artificial inseminations Progesterone levels can be determined by many private laboratories, although the turn-around time for test results is often too long to make this useful for ovulation timing. In addition, many laboratories have not standardized their Progesterone assays to be accurate in the range important for canine ovulation timing. Also available are in-house canine specific tests that your veterinarian can run in his office, with results available in less than 30 minutes.

Remember that progesterone levels are baseline early in the bitch's heat cycle, but begin to rise at the time of the LH surge. Therefore, if the date of the initial rise in progesterone is identified, the LH surge can be estimated.

LUTEINIZING HORMONE (LH) ASSAY

The most accurate parameter used in ovulation timing is the actual identification of the LH surge by direct measurement. Since the elevation in LH typically has a duration of only 24 hours, blood sampling must be performed daily to identify this surge. An in-clinic canine LH assay is available which allows practical identification of the LH surge by your veterinarian, and is recommended for breedings using frozen semen and chilled extended semen breedings or as part of a thorough infertility investigation.

BREEDING DATES

In routine natural breeding or fresh Al with a normal, healthy stud, sperm may be expected to live within the bitch's reproductive tract 5 or more days. Thus, breedings performed a day or two before the fertile period should still be viable at the time of peak fertility. Subsequent breedings during the fertile period will maximize sperm numbers on the bitch's most fertile days. It is recommended to breed on days 2,4 and 6 post-LH surge if three breedings are possible. If not, perform two breedings between days 3 and 7 post-LH surge.,

If using chilled or frozen semen, or performing a natural breeding or fresh AI using a stud with compromised semen, it may be assumed that the longevity of the sperm cells are decreased and early breedings will likely be wasted. Therefore, these breedings should take place during the true fertile period, days 4-7 post - LH surge,

OVULATION TIMING

Many diagnostic and ancillary aids are available to assist in the timing of ovulation and breedings. No-single test or assay is fully reliable or completely correlates with the exact stage the bitch is in. A single examination, vaginal smear, LH or progesterone level provides very limited information. Ovulation timing is more accurate and breeding management is more successful when multiple parameters are repeatedly evaluated.

About the Author

Dr. Melissa Goodman, a 1983 graduate of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, practiced small animal medicine for five years before joining International Canine Genetics, Inc. where she received specialized training in small animal reproduction and became Vice President of Veterinary Services in 1991. Dr. Goodman is Board Qualified by the American College of Theriogenology (the specialty of veterinary reproduction) and maintains a practice limited to small animal reproduction in suburban Philadelphia. Dr. Goodman exhibits and breeds Golden Retrievers, is active in conformation, agility, field and obedience events, is a past Director of the Golden Retriever Club of America, and is Chairman of the GRCA Health and Genetics Committee.

Neutering your dog

When choosing a dog, do consider having it neutered. This procedure reduces the large number of unwanted puppies and leads to fewer stray dogs roaming the streets. Neutering your dog can also have health advantages, especially when your pet gets older.   It is not unusual when buying a purebred dog to sign a non breeding contract.

Dogs in Heat/Season

Female dogs, bitches, normally first come into season when they are about 6 to 8 months old. However they have been known to be earlier and even later than this. It is usual for bitches to have a season twice a year, but some only have a season once a year. Bitches will come into season throughout their lives, they do not experience the menopause.

When the bitch is about to come into season there may be various changes in her behaviour. She may go off her food a few days beforehand, urinate more frequently when out on her walks and she may even shows signs of abdominal pain. A bitch can be quite down and miserable when she is about to come into season. When she is in season the vulva will be enlarged and blood stained fluid is passed. The season lasts for about 3 weeks, and she will be attractive to males for this time. The bitch is usually not interested in the male until about day 8 to 12 of her season, when she will stand and allow the mating to occur, and at this point she may even try to escape in order to mate. Before and after these days of the season, the bitch can be quite aggressive to any male who tries to mate with her. 

When your bitch is in season you should keep her on a lead at all times and only take her out to relieve herself. Do not leave her tied up outside the shops even if it is only for 5 minutes, that can be long enough. Male dogs can detect a bitch that is in season over a considerable distance. He can make quite a nuisance of himself by howling at all hours of the day and night and by scent marking, urinating where the bitch has been. The male dog will travel a good distance to get to a bitch that is in season and nothing much will stop him. 

If you are not going to breed from your bitch it is a good idea to have her neutered. This procedure is carried out under general aesthetic and is called spaying. The operation involves the removal of the womb and ovaries (ovariohysterectomy). Some vets will recommend that this is done before her first season and others say after. They all agree that it should never be done during the season. If your bitch has come into season and you want her spayed it is advisable to wait for at least two months after her season until she is spayed.

The advantages of spaying are that you will not have any unwanted puppies and there are health advantages. Unbuttered bitches can develop certain conditions at a later stage in their lives. They can develop a false pregnancy, pyometra and mammary tumours.

A false pregnancy occurs when the bitch shows signs of being pregnant when she is not. It happens at the time when she would have produced a litter if she had been pregnant, around the 63 day mark. She will go through the stages, such as nesting, carry toys or shoes to gather into her bed and some actually produce milk. The severity of these stages will vary from bitch to bitch. Once a bitch has had one false pregnancy it will occur after each season, and the signs can become more severe each time. Obviously this can be quite an unsettling time for all and you should ask your veterinary surgeon for advice. When a bitch develops a pyometra urgent veterinary attention is required to remove the uterus and ovaries. A pyometra is an infection which occurs in the womb, usually 2 months after the season. This condition is normally seen in older bitches. The signs of this condition are excessive drinking, vomiting, depression and in some situations a red-brown smelly discharge from the vulva. Mammary tumours can develop in bitches as they get older, neutering reduces the risk greatly. Many of these tumours are benign but they can spread to other parts of the body. If you do discover a mammary lump on your bitch then it should be monitored carefully for any changes in size, also consult your vet.

There are some disadvantages in having your bitch neutered. An older neutered bitch may become, to some degree, incontinent. This may only happen when the bitch is asleep. There is treatment available which can reduce this and even stop this from occurring. A spayed bitch can also have a change in coat growth. Some of the hairier breeds can have excess hair over the hindquarters and the smooth coated breeds can develop bald patches. The other problem that can occur is weight gain, with some breeds being more susceptible than others. Once neutered try and cut out the treats, and increase the amount of exercise once the bitch has been given the all clear by the vet.

The control of the season can also be done without surgery. There is a hormone injection available which is administered by your vet. This injection has to be given at least twice a year. Commercial products, like sprays and lotions, are also available and have various degrees of success.

There are advantages and disadvantages of both methods so it is wise to gather as much information before you make the choice.

Male dogs can be neutered, castrated, when they are 6 months or older. The castration procedure is carried out under general aesthetic. The operation involves the removal of the testicles. There can be several reasons why a male dog has to be castrated. This can be for a medical reason or to stop excessive sexual behaviour and other unacceptable behaviour characteristics.

Medically the dog may only have one testicle descended into the scrotum, the other could be in the abdomen. If this is the case the dog should be castrated as the testicle in the abdomen could become a tumour and upset the whole hormonal system. A tumour of this type can be life threatening if it spreads to other parts of the body. Behaviourally a dog can, if highly sexed mount people and inanimate objects around the house. Unbuttered males can be aggressive, in particular with other dogs, they mark their territory, in the house and outside. They will also wander off, especially if they sense there is a bitch in season nearby. Sometimes castration will be ineffective as the behaviour has become a habit. Other behaviours can take several months before any change is noticed.

There are some disadvantages in having your dog neutered. A castrated dog can have a change in the appearance and texture of his coat. Some of the hairier breeds can have excess hair over the hindquarters and the smooth coated breeds can develop bald patches. The other problem that can occur is weight gain, with some breeds being more susceptible than others. Once neutered try and cut out the treats, and increase the amount of exercise.

The control of the dogs sexual behaviour can also be achieved without surgery. There is available a hormone injection which is administered by your vet. This injection mimics the effects of castration, however the dog may not become infertile. There are various commercial products, like sprays and lotions, which can be used on the areas where the dog is scent marking around the house. These products have various degrees of success.