– I'm One Month
2004 – For the past few weeks we've been watching the growth and development
of three Great Dane puppies and looking into what constitutes a responsible breeding program.
Most owners of pet Danes have
no concept of the preparation and expense that's required to produce a healthy – and
structurally sound – litter. Great Dane puppies can be obtained from a
variety of questionable sources such as pet stores and puppy millers, newspaper
ads and backyard breeders. These unfortunate creatures are almost certainly NOT
the product of a well-considered breeding program. By the time this series is
complete, I hope we'll all have a better understanding of what goes into producing
a QUALITY litter.
week I reviewed some of the health checks that are recommended prior to breeding.
week we'll talk about the breeding process itself. Let's pretend you are a
would-be breeder and your female has passed all the recommended health
checks. (And it only cost you $900!) We'll
is of sufficient "quality"
that she deserves to be bred – meaning she is backed by a solid pedigree
many champions, she exhibits superior conformation, and she has an excellent
temperament. We'll also assume you've found a suitable male of similar qualifications
to breed her to – one whose pedigree, temperament and physical characteristics
compliment those of the mother. (Your stud fee was $1000.) You are hoping that
this union will produce a litter with at least one truly exceptional puppy, a
be better, even,
than its parents.
Most breeders who own a stud dog will have at least one sperm collection and
evaluation performed by a qualified veterinarian. They often decide to store
their dog's frozen sperm for the future, or for use in long-distance breedings.
A seasoned breeder writes:
had three males collected last December. My clinic's fees are based on the number
of vials (breeding units) that are collected for storage. For the December visit
I had 10 vials on one male, 8 on another, and 25 on the third. My total bill
for the day was $3600.00!! Yearly storage fees are an additional $150 per dog
after the first year."
She went on to say, "Prices vary depending on the collection organization – CLONE, ICG, Camelot, or a private vet – but
you can expect to pay at least $250 for an initial sperm evaluation (that's one
dog), plus additional fees for the collection and
Finding a qualified sire for your litter may not have been easy. Often, the best
possible match involves a dog that doesn't live anywhere near you and your dam.
natural breeding isn't possible due to distance or other factors, many breeders
on artificial insemination.
There are several types of AI procedures. Today we'll take a look
at the most invasive (and expensive) method, something called "frozen surgical
Frozen Surgical Implant
Hallie, the mother
of the three adorable fawn puppies we've been following, conceived her litter
breeder, Cindy Niske, tells us about her
A frozen surgical
implant requires careful coordination between the stud dog owner, the bitch owner,
the cryobank (semen storage facility) and the reproductive veterinarian. It is a nerve wracking experience, to say the
Canines are different
than all other mammals, in that once the female's eggs are released from the
ovary, it takes two to three days for them to mature. A frozen surgical implant is performed
when the eggs have matured and are ready for fertilization within the
uterine horns. The repro vet injects the carefully thawed semen directly into
the uterine horns. Conception usually occurs within a day.
In order to determine when the time is right for the surgical implant, your dam's
progesterone level must be monitored.
testing is generally done every other day starting from day five of the estrous
and then daily once the hormone levels start to rise. On average, you might have
to do four to seven tests. In
Hallie's case, we learned she was ovulating after the third test. This meant
implant had to be performed in three days. (At $100 a pop, we spent $300 on Hallie's
progesterone tests.) The stud dog's owner had already authorized the release
the frozen semen from the cryobank, and it was shipped directly to the reproductive
veterinarian. Three days later, I loaded Hallie into the car and we headed to
the clinic, which was located about 200 miles to the west of us in Atlanta,
Georgia. After four hours behind the wheel, I found myself waiting anxiously
Hallie in tow.
given a pre-surgical evaluation, she was "put under" and prepped. The
implantation surgery itself lasted only ten minutes, but it was amazing
to watch. A four-inch incision was made in Hallie's tummy and and her uterus
was brought up to the surface, checked for cysts or other problems that could
conception, and then injected with the semen. Just knowing that fertilization
would take place over the next day was priceless. (The procedure itself did have
though. It cost us $500, plus travel expenses.)
Hallie had awakened, a doting staff loaded her back into my van and we were on
the road again, battling rush-hour traffic in Atlanta, GA.
Hallie was still under the
influence of anesthesia and needless-to-say, I kept glancing back to her crate
to make sure she was okay during the long drive
home. Two short days later,
Hallie was herself again
and the waiting process began.
In anticipation of her pregnancy, Hallie's
already been altered several
prior to her coming into season. Her food was changed to a richer, high-performance
food while she remained on her usual vitamin C and Acidophilus. Five weeks after
the total amount of food Hallie received was increased until she was consuming
1500 calories per day.
that Hallie had been bred, my
next big decision
was whether or not to request an ultrasound, which would tell
me if Hallie was, in fact, pregnant. The $75 ultrasound test is
usually performed 30 days after a breeding, which is about halfway into the
palpate the uterus of the bitch around day 28 and actually feel
of pearls," each pearl being a puppy. If the vet is really good, he or she
pretty accurately predict the number of pups expected. I saw no reason to subject
Hallie to the stress of
an ultrasound, so we
just wait and see.
We'd know soon enough. We
were pretty sure Hallie was pregnant after a few weeks had passed. Then the panting
and pacing began – and I'm not talking about the mother-to-be!
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