Truths and Myths of Conception Rates in Canine Reproduction

There is a very common misconception among a lot of breeders that if they pay for any assisted reproductive procedure, they are guaranteed to have pups.  There is never 100% guarantee for anything in this life and artificial insemination is not an exception.


The most common reasons for a missed breading:

  • Male infertility;
  • Female infertility;
  • Insemination method/technique;
  • Preparation of the product used;
  • Timing of insemination.


Natural matings have quite a few missed breedings as well but there are no records kept to determine the fertility rates for the sires and dams. They are beloved family pets and/or high profile show dogs - they are not commercial sires and dams.  They are often not proven producers but they are chosen for their looks or pedigrees.  It is also worth mentioning that AI (artificial insemination) has come into the consideration by breeders in a lot of cases because there is already a problem: a missed breeding, a miscarriage, a failure to breed naturally.


There have not been so many conception rates publications for canine artificial inseminations around the world.  Most of the time, the statistics can be obtained from the greyhound industry, which is the only recognised commercial canine industry.  It is highly regulated and the sires are closely monitored for their fertility rates.


Artificial inseminations are widely used now for people due to the ever-growing infertility rates worldwide among men and women.  If we look at the human conception rates, we face a major disappointment, especially taken into consideration how much research and development, resources and often heart ache goes into the procedures.  The official statistics on NHS UK website (as on 09/06/2010) is available now for the period of time between 2014 and 2016 ( a new review is due shortly).  The highest figure in this data table is only 29% of live births and it is for women under 35 and it does not take into consideration the number of tries.  It rapidly goes down to 9% for women between 40 and 42 years of age and to the miserable 2% for ladies over 44 years of age. 


In canine reproduction much higher conception rates are achieved worldwide.  We come across figures in 80ies percentage bracket as a rule, although they are general figures. No type of infertility or an age of female are taken into consideration. To assess the true conception rate every particular sire needs to be taken separately and evaluated taking into consideration all his matings with females, whose cycles have also been monitored and the optimal timing established.


In some “it-didn’t-work” cases it actually worked and the litter was conceived but it didn’t result in a litter of pups: a female might have aborted the litter; she might have re-absorbed the pups or she might have given birth to stillborns.  Obviously, there has been something wrong in all those cases but assisted repro procedure worked and we need to investigate further what might be the reasons for each particular case. Some breeders are willing to take further steps and determine the causes; others love their pets anyway and give up on the idea to breed.


We all work in order to achieve the same goal: a healthy litter of pups but sometimes no matter what is done, the nature is going to take over and it does not happen.  Dedicated AI professionals treat every case with the utmost integrity and care.  They learn more with every case; they collect valuable data and do everything possible for a successful pregnancy and a healthy litter.


Compared to human reproduction services, canine reproduction gets next to nothing  of worldwide attention, resources, research and development and financial aids.  It is looked at as a hobby, a selective procedure but not as an absolutely fascinating area of the veterinary medicine with further possible development ideas.  Nevertheless, it is a thriving area all over the world with increasing interest from veterinarians and breeders and solid success and high conception rates.

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