My First Frozen Semen Litter

By Pam Jodoin

Frozen semen has been used extensively in the agriculture industry for horses and cattle. Over the past couple of decades it has also become more popular in canine breeding. Frozen semen not only can take advantage of dogs long gone or stud dogs past their prime but also offers other options not available when employing chilled semen. Chilled semen can get lost or delayed so that it becomes unusable. Using frozen semen allows breeders to do matings across continents or oceans, and breedings can be planned ahead so that semen is on hand when the bitch is ready or the stud may not be available.

Having previously done breedings using fresh chilled semen, I felt that I wanted to try a frozen semen litter. COVID made shipping chilled semen challenging due to delays and border clearances, and access to suitable sires is limited where I live. Because I had only had experience with fresh chilled semen, I contacted my reproductive vet clinic so they could guide me. The veterinary facility collecting and storing semen must complete a semen collection statement identifying the dog, the number of units, the form of storage, the unit identification number, and the owner(s) information. If the stud dog does not have a DNA profile on file with the AKC, DNA swabs should be collected and submitted to the AKC with the DNA and Semen Collection forms. The semen ownership is then transferred to the new owner (usually the owner of the dam), and the transfer is registered with the AKC.

I then contacted the breeder who had the frozen semen I wanted to use to obtain this information. A pre- and post-freeze motility and complete semen analysis was sent from her semen bank to my vet. (Not all semen freezes well, so it needed to be checked.) The report indicated that the semen had a 70% motility post thaw, and my vet confirmed that the semen report was good. As the results were acceptable, I then needed to arrange for shipping. The owner of the semen contacted her semen bank and we arranged for a shipping. Her semen bank provided a shipping container charged with liquid nitrogen that would keep the semen frozen in transit. The canister was then shipped overnight from the semen bank to my vet via Fedex priority overnight. When the container arrived at my vet the semen was immediately transferred to my vet’s storage container and the container it came in was shipped back to the stud owner’s semen bank. My girl was not yet in season, but the semen would be waiting at my repro vet’s clinic for her when she was ready to breed. (Note that most vets will charge an annual storage fee to store the semen if it is not going to be used immediately.)

Once the female is in heat it is important to get a baseline and start progesterone testing around day seven. Progesterone testing is usually done every two or three days until the LH surge is targeted then ovulation. Be sure that your repro vet, who should be the one performing the progesterone testing, is experienced and has had success in performing trans-cervical inseminations. TCIs, unlike earlier methods of breeding canines using frozen semen, require no surgery or anesthesia. My vet likes to do a TCI 3 ½ days post ovulation, making it important to know the precise day of ovulation. Once your bitch is ready to breed, hopefully you have a repro vet who will be available seven days a week, as the precise timing of a TCI is critical. My girl needed her TCI on a Sunday, which involved an extra charge for a call in fee. The TCI was done using a camera-guided scope. The scope is guided through the cervix of the vitch while she is awake. Once the scope is through the cervix, the semen is deposited directly into the uterus. Then, 35 days post-ovulation, the vet will either ultrasound or palpate for puppies. At 8-9 weeks, the bitch is x-rayed for a puppy count.

Annie gave birth to five beautiful babies with one TCI done at 3 ½ days post ovulation.

Once the puppies were on the ground I needed to get the litter registered.

Registering the Litter
AKC requires:
  1. Semen Collection Statement (Form ALFZ2)
  2. DNA for the sire (for stored dogs collected after 1998)
  3. Semen transfer letter
  4. Frozen Semen Litter Application (Form ALAIFZ)

Because I live in Canada, my litter needed to be CKC registered. Therefore, I also needed an AKC certified pedigree and I needed to register the litter with a foreign sire application.

Transferring Semen

There is no official AKC form at this time for documenting the transfer of semen to a new facility. Each facility typically their own forms with the shipped samples that will identify the facility, the dog, the number of breeding units, the breeding unit id number(s), and the collection date. This identification will be recorded by the receiving vet or storage facility.

If semen is shipped for the purpose of insemination (i.e. a litter application), only one owner of the semen is required to sign the Frozen Semen application, as with other litter applications for natura;l or chilled breedings.

If ownership of semen is being transferred to another party, please note, ALL owners of the dog or breeding unit(s) must sign a letter transferring ownership of the semen, just as would be done for transferring a dog. The letter should identify the facility shipped from and to, identify the dog, the quantity and number(s) of the breeding units, the date(s) collected, the name and signatures of the former owner(s), and the name(s) and addresses of the new owners. This letter should be sent to the AKC for recording.

Frozen Litter Application

The “Application to Register A Litter Resulting From Artificial Insemination Using Frozen Semen” should be given to the vet that receives the semen and performs the insemination. At least one owner of the sire/breeding unit must sign the application, as well as all owners or leasees of the dam.

The most common reasons that an application is delayed is that the Semen Collection Statement has not been provided for recording at the AKC, or that not all owners have signed for the transfer of semen. With a little planning, the registration process should go smoothly. When planning a frozen AI breeding, ensure that the owner of the sire has DNA on the male and, if already collected, has submitted the Collection Statement. Print out your application ahead of time and provide it to your vet at the time of the breeding.