Reproductive Services

At OSSVH, our veterinarians have special interests in the latest techniques and procedures for breeding purebred dogs and are recognized for their expertise among veterinarians and breeders. We offer complete reproductive services at our animal hospital, ranging from pre-breeding exams through high-risk or planned cesarean sections. Our areas of expertise include:

Best Time to Breed

Best Time to Breed Photo

The availability of frozen and chilled semen makes it possible for breeders to choose a stud dog from anywhere in the world. However, knowing when to breed requires knowledge of the estrus cycle.

The cycle begins with a rise in estrogen. Just before LH rises to a peak, progesterone begins its rise. Following the rise in progesterone will indicate the best time to breed. Typically, bitches ovulate about two days after LH peak and it takes about two days for the ovulated eggs to mature so that sperm can fertilize these eggs. The fertile period in a bitch's cycle is 4–7 days from LH peak.

Because all bitches are different, and each cycle can be different, we recommend seeing your bitch within 5-7 days from the start of her cycle to examine her and acquire baseline information. If your bitch cycles quickly, it is better to make the first appointment sooner than later.

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Artificial Insemination

Freezing Semen Photo

In addition to natural breeding, OSSVH offers artificial insemination (AI) with fresh, chilled, or frozen semen. AI techniques include vaginal insemination, transcervical insemination, and surgical implant.

  • Vaginal insemination is where the veterinarian places the sperm in the vaginal vault, right at the rim of the cervix. This is most similar to a natural breeding.
  • Transcervical inseminations are accomplished using special endoscopic equipment or the Norwegian Pipette system. To accomplish a transcervical insemination, the scope is placed into the vaginal vault and the cervix is identified. A pipette is then passed through the cervix and the semen is deposited directly into the uterus. Transcervical inseminations are done on an awake, standing bitch. Due to anatomy, transcervical inseminations cannot be accomplished in every bitch, and we will recommend surgical implant under general anesthesia as an alternative.
  • In a surgical implant, the dog is placed under general anesthesia, a small incision is made in the abdominal wall, the uterine horns are elevated, and the semen is injected into the horns. Patients recover quickly and seldom experience complications following this procedure, but do need to be kept quiet for 10-14 days.

Our recommendation on the method of insemination will depend on several factors, including but not limited to: the type and quality of semen used, the age and reproductive history of the bitch and risk factors for the bitch.

Pregnancy and Ultrasound

When OSSVH is involved in your bitch's insemination, we will tell you when your bitch can be checked for pregnancy and give you an estimated whelping date.

We recommend an ultrasound between 25-28 days from the bitch's first breeding. Ultrasound allows us to visualize the puppies and get an approximate count of puppies. Another advantage of ultrasound evaluations is that we can assess the well being and stability of the puppies in the uterus at that time by looking at puppy heart rates to evaluate fetal stress, evaluating the placentas, and determine developmental stage. Oftentimes, we can detect a problem early in the pregnancy and take measures to help sustain a pregnancy to term.

If X-rays are requested, we prefer doing them no more than 1 week before the bitch is due to better see the puppy skeletons. We also provide elective c-sections when indicated for specific breeds or for bitches with a history of whelping problems.


Newborn Puppies Photo

When your bitch is due to whelp can be a very stressful time for both the owner and the bitch. There are many signs indicating that whelping time is near (within 12-24 hours), such as:

  • Drop in temperature-we typically have the owners take the rectal temperature of the bitch every 12 hours starting 5-7 days prior to anticipated due date. Usually 8-24 hours prior to delivery, the temperature will have a significant drop of 2 degrees to 97-98° F.
  • Loose stools or vomiting
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Nesting/digging
  • Increased mucoid vaginal discharge
  • Milk in mammary glands

Signs that there is a problem during the whelping (and indicate you should contact a veterinarian) are:

  • You think the female is OVERDUE and nothing is happening
    *>63 days from ovulation (NOT from breeding)
    *>24 hours from dropped rectal temperature (~98° F)
  • Bitch has been panting, pacing, and/or digging for longer than 12 hours and no other impending signs of labor
  • Water breaks and no signs of puppies or impending labor within 2 hours
  • Dam is pushing hard for 30 minutes and no puppy is seen or palpated in canal or puppy not progressing through birth canal
  • Longer than 60–90 minutes in between puppies
  • She stops labor and you know there are more puppies to deliver (based on previous X-ray or ultrasound)
  • Vaginal discharge is:
    GREEN—Indicates placental separation
    EXCESS BRIGHT RED—Hemorrhage
    BROWN and malodorous—Possible infection
  • Something just doesn’t seem right!

Often times, the start of the whelping process will be indicated by a large clear fluid discharge (“water breaking”). The bitch will start pushing as a puppy enters the birth canal and the intervals between contractions will lessen as the strength of the contractions increase. It is good to keep people and other animals away from the dam during delivery to keep stress at a minimum.

A puppy is born surrounded by a sac that looks like a water balloon. The mother usually breaks this sac and stimulates the puppy to breath by licking it. Often, a first-time bitch doesn’t do this, so you need to break the sac gently and remove all membranes from the nose of the puppy.

Then, suction out the mouth and nose with the pediatric bulb syringe and rub the puppy vigorously with a warm towel to stimulate it to breathe. You can also pinch it on the top of the neck behind the head to help it take a deep breath. Do not swing the puppy – this can cause brain damage similar to shaken baby syndrome.

Once the puppy is crying and breathing well, if the bitch has not already bitten the umbilical cord, tie it off about ¾ inch from the body and then again about 1 inch from the body with dental floss. Cut the cord in between your 2 ties and dip the cord in iodine solution.

It is important to let the bitch lick the puppy so she bonds with it. Then put the puppy on the mammary gland. Nursing the first milk, called colostrum, gives the puppy antibody protection and stimulates more uterine contractions to assist the bitch with continued whelping and uterine contraction.

You want to be certain that all of the puppies have been delivered when she appears to be done. If you are unsure, you should bring her in for an X-ray to confirm that all the puppies have been born.

Neonatal Care

Newborn Puppies Photo

Successful conception, gestation, and whelping are only the first parts of a successful breeding. Neonatal puppies are most vulnerable during the first 3 weeks of life. At OSSVH, we counsel breeders on proper nutritional requirements of the nursing bitch, how to monitor for and prevent mastitis, how to monitor and treat for intestinal parasites, and methods for optimal weaning. We can help with early warning signs of "failure to thrive" or weak pups and provide solutions for giving the pups the best chance possible. Our goal is 100% survival of healthy puppies though the weaning stage and beyond.

Female Fertility

Female Fertility Photo

OSSVH offers consultations, examinations, and appropriate testing for all bitches, but we also provide counseling and diagnostics to help those breeders whose bitches are not getting pregnant, have an abnormal discharge after being bred, have had problems delivering, have lost litters, or experienced other events associated with infertility. We will want a full medical history on the bitch in question to best evaluate the situation. Our goal is to find a solution that will enable a successful breeding and a litter of healthy and happy pups.

Male Fertility

Male Fertility Photo

To evaluate male fertility, we perform a complete exam on the male, including collecting and evaluating semen. There are many abnormalities that can be seen and managed in the dog. Minimum quality semen consists of at least 70% normal progressively motile sperm with a minimum concentration of 150-200 million motile sperm.

When we encounter fertility issues, such as blood in the semen, low concentrations of semen, or changes in morphology of semen, our goal is to diagnose the cause and recommend a treatment plan. In this situation, diagnosis often requires ultrasound of the prostate, testicles and culture of the prostate fluid. The prostate plays a large role in male fertility.

Freezing Semen

Freezing Semen Photo

OSSVH has been a certified AKC freezing center since 1996. We store and inventory frozen semen in our hospital and clients have complete control over the use of their dogs' frozen semen. Upon request, with appropriate notification, OSSVH will ship frozen semen to other veterinary facilities anywhere in the world.

Freezing Semen for an International Shipment

If you are planning on shipping semen to another country, it is recommended that you talk to the veterinarian receiving the semen. They will guide you to the source of all necessary documentation needed to get the semen through customs into that country. There are also brokers available in certain countries that will help set up your shipment and help you determine what is needed to export your dog's semen. Some countries require very specific time sensitive pre-breeding blood testing prior to freezing semen. These results are only accepted from designated laboratories in the United States. England and Australia, for example, require Rabies and other titers done at specific labs at particular time intervals prior to freezing the semen.

We recommend freezing your dog's semen when the dog is young in order to produce a larger quantity of better quality frozen semen.

Please bring a copy of your dog's registration and DNA certificate to your appointment. We recommend bringing an in-season female to your appointment to make it easier to collect the male and to produce a better collection. Your dog also has to be permanently identified (either microchip or tattoo) for the semen to be used in future breedings that will be registered with the American Kennel Club. We can microchip your dog at the time of the first freezing if needed, and can provide information on the DNA certificate, if needed.

In order to successfully use the frozen semen after collection it is important to understand the requirements for using frozen semen .

Chilled Semen

Chilled Semen Photo

Insemination with chilled semen is the most common method of breeding when a significant distance separates the female and male. Shipping chilled semen involves collecting the male, adding special extenders, and shipping the semen overnight to a veterinarian who will inseminate the bitch. Today, some extenders can keep the semen viable for up to 10 days, making it possible to send chilled semen overseas. While it is significantly less expensive to ship chilled semen than frozen semen, chilled semen shipments must coincide with the bitch's heat cycle. Frozen semen can be shipped anytime and stored until the bitch starts her cycle.

OSSVH prepares and ships chilled semen Monday through Saturday. Please try to schedule your appointment prior to 12:30 pm so that we may schedule courier pickup.