Craigieburn Animal Hospital

9 Craigieburn Road
Craigieburn, VA 3064

(03) 9305-5855

Breeding Successfully

Preparation: Culture and Sensitivity Test

A vaginal swab from the bitch is taken and cultured for microbiological investigation. The purpose is to ensure the semen will be inseminated into a clean, uninfected environment. It will, therefore, eliminate the presence of any possible sperm killing bacteria, which may cause a missed conception. Further, such measure eliminates the transfer of infection to the stud dog in case of natural mating and stops the spreading of infection caused by stress from coming into season and the stress of travel.

The preparatory works also ensures the wellness of the bitch for conception to occur, and to go through a normal pregnancy, without possible abortion or absorption of puppies.

Results of culture and sensitivity tests enable the determination of the most effective antibiotics for treatment if needed as incorrect antibiotics can cause more problems and the spread of infection.

Ovulation Timing to Determine the Date to Mate or Inseminate

Ovulation timing can best be determined by taking a series of progesterone (a reproduction hormone in female dogs) blood tests. Research has proven that ovulation occurs when the blood progesterone levels of the bitch reach a certain level. This implies the correct date to mate.

The first progesterone blood test is conducted at approximately day 8 of the season. Results of the first test provide an indication of the dates for following progesterone blood tests. Tests are continued until the results indicate the correct 'date to mate'.

Progesterone level monitoring is most effective and easy to use. It improves breeding efficiency and provides confidence for the breeders and veterinarians that the dog and bitch are mating on the correct day.

Semen evaluation

A thorough semen evaluation is performed on the selected stud dog to ensure his fertility. Parameters evaluated include colour of ejaculate, volume of ejaculate, sperm motility, sperm concentration, estimated total number of sperm and proportion of sperm with normal morphology.
The quality of the semen is more important than the quantity collected.

The dog's clinical wellness and libido are also evaluated at the time of semen sample collection.

Natural Mating

Natural mating is commonly used in the breeding of dogs. Natural mating implies putting male and female dogs together and letting them mate based on their own desires.

The stud dog should ideally be examined with full semen evaluation being conducted at least a week before mating is anticipated. This ensures fertility and that the stud dog will work during mating.

Correct timing for mating is also important. Determination of the correct time to mate can be done through the use of progesterone assays and evaluation of cells collected from the vagina of female dog. The first progesterone assay is performed at approximately day 8 of the season. Based on the result of the first progesterone assay, the time for next progesterone assay and/or vaginal cell study will then be decided. Mating will usually be carried out when the progesterone level is between 15 - 25 ng/ml and cornified cells are found dominating the tissue collected from vagina. A further mating may be conducted one to two days later.

If natural mating is carried out in the hospital, the bitch and dog must travel separately, i.e. one in the car and one in a trailer. The bitch is firstly brought into the hospital and the dog is then brought in when requested.

Chilled Semen

Shipping the bitch to the stud dog can be a costly and frustrating process. It can cause stress to the bitch which may affect her reproduction cycle, and a missed breeding is one that is lost forever in her reproduction life. As the only purpose of breeding is to have puppies, every precaution must be taken to ensure that goal is achieved.
With chilled semen you can now breed to the stud dog of your choice within Australia without travelling to him and/or without transporting your bitch.

Chilled semen is used for artificial insemination. During artificial insemination, semen is placed directly into the reproductive tract of the bitch without the actual presence of the stud dog.

Based on the results of the progesterone assays and study of the vaginal cells, the owner of bitch is advised when the chilled semen is required, especially if the semen is coming from other states.  Semen is usually shipped one to two days before the day of first insemination and is stored in the hospital refrigerator before insemination.

The semen is firstly collected from a selected dog. Ideally, a 'teaser bitch' is required for semen collection. A full semen evaluation is then performed. After confirming the quality of semen collected, Insemin-Aid is added to the semen collected. Insemin-Aid is a special formula that extends the life of the semen 48 hours or more. This enables the semen to be transported in advance from the stud dog to the breeder for insemination of the bitch.

As in natural mating, two serves are conducted one to two days apart.

Frozen Semen

The Camelot Semen Preservation System has proven to have the highest conception rates, the largest average litter sizes, and is performed by more veterinarians and breeders than any other systems of freezing canine semen in the world. More puppies have been produced by the Camelot Semen Preservation System than all others, since the first litter of frozen semen puppies was produced over 30 years ago. Past records indicated that 94% conception rate had been achieved, with production of an average 7 puppies per litter over the last 12 years.

The Camelot Semen Preservation System does not use straws for freezing as used in horses and cows. Dog semen is very different, and the straw method has been tested by Camelot Farm and discarded for several reasons. Dog semen in straws lives only a short time after being thawed meaning there is often not enough time to get puppies. Further, when making straws from dog semen it is impossible to know how many sperm are in each straw without thawing all of them. If a straw does not have enough sperm, nor lives long enough after being thawed, that straw cannot produced a normal size litter, if one at all.

Semen frozen by the Camelot Semen Preservation System uses extenders that lose less semen through the freezing process, less when thawed for insemination, and live longer once thawed and inseminated in the bitch, producing the maximum number of puppies. By freezing semen with a more proven extender in a pelleted form and distributed properly in vials, each vial contains the same number of sperm. Hence each vial can produce a good size litter of puppies.

Stud dog semen can be successfully preserved for years. This can be used as a form of insurance against his possible death.

Due to frozen semen, a stud dog can be used to inseminate several bitches in several different locations on any one day.

Bitch owners can have the semen of choice from any stud dog available to them within Australia and overseas without shipping their bitches. Insemination can be undertaken by a licensed veterinarian trained in the Camelot Semen Preservation System.

Due to the high success rates, less breedings are required to get puppies of higher quality.
Vaginal Artificial Insemination

Vaginal artificial insemination is the placement of selected semen, chilled or frozen, into the vagina of the bitch. Vaginal artificial insemination has proven higher conception rates 'overall' with potentially less return breedings. It saves time on mating and eliminates 'social' problems between the dog and bitch. Further, vaginal artificial insemination has positive control of reproductive diseases. The best way to breed a virgin bitch without possible harm to the sire or dam is vaginal artificial insemination.

Surgical Insemination

Semen, mainly frozen semen, is implanted surgically into the reproductive tract of the bitch under general anaesthesia on the day of ovulation determined by progesterone assay and vaginal cytology. This breeding method gives the best conception rate and largest litter size. By using of frozen semen, many overseas stud dogs are now available 'locally'.


Owners of breedable quality bitches understand the bitches only come into 'heat' a few times in their reproductive life, and the importance of getting puppies on each occasion. The most expensive part of breeding is a missed conception.
Bitches are multiple ovulators, and the health and number of puppies resulting from a mating is determined by control of infection, semen quality, ovulation timing and correct insemination techniques.

Bitch owners will not go to a stud dog that has had many 'misses'.

Research shows there are different styles of bitch cycle and that every bitch can have a different style on each such occasion. Therefore counting days is not a reliable way to mate. Progesterone testing is a more reliable means of determining the time of ovulation.

Nowadays, veterinarians are well trained in assessing semen quality, infection control, ovulation timing, artificial insemination, and chilled and frozen semen preparation and handling.