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The Responsibility of Allocating Frozen Semen from Dead Dogs

Now that there are genetic tests for many defects in our breeds, we can perform these genetic tests on the semen of long dead dogs. This makes the subject of the best use of frozen semen from some of the greats in our breeds of renewed interest. We can now certify a dead dog as being free of some of the genetic defects which are important in our breed. Testing gives us important pedigree information as well as new interest in using the banked semen from these dogs. The trustee of the banked semen of important dead dogs has a responsibility to the breed as a whole to use this semen appropriately.

Many of us have frozen semen from our beloved dogs with no objective other than having personal access in the future, and that is an appropriate use for most frozen semen. However, some dogs have been very important in their breeds; these are dogs who are sound in mind and body, who reproduce better than themselves, and who may represent 'lost' bloodlines.

Important stud dogs were usually heavily used when they were alive. They were often used to improve the quality of the bitches brought to them, and consequently were bred to bitches of lesser quality than themselves. It becomes much more important to rigorously screen bitches that are candidates for the use of the frozen semen, since the supply is limited. The best interests of the breed should be the prime consideration when allocating this semen, and it should be used with bitches who are likely to complement the stud dog and further the quality of the breed as well as producing very saleable puppies for the purchaser. It can no longer be used with indifferent quality bitches to improve the line of a bitch owner.

Frozen semen from a great dead dog should, it stands to reason, command a higher price than that of the best live dogs. Further, as it is limited, it should be sold as a commodity which is not contingent on the production of a given number of live puppies by the bitch for payment to be rendered. As long as the semen has been used once and produced puppies, it should be assumed to be 'good'. It should only be sold in quantities suitable for transcervical or surgical implantation, never wasted in a vaginal insemination. As time goes on, we should be able to do in vitro insemination in dogs, thus further extending the usefulness of each straw of semen. At that point, even the DNA of dead sperm should be capable of fertilizing an egg. It is very likely that by waiting to use some of this semen, you will be able to make it stretch to accomodate more breedings.

With a high purchase price and no free rides if puppies aren't produced, it is then in the best interests of the bitch's owner to perform all possible tests to assure that the bitch is in perfect condition to be bred, and that the insemination is timed and performed in the best manner possible. In this way, the best interests of the bitch owner and breed will coincide and the likelihood of this semen being wasted by less than diligent breeders will be minimized. This semen should never be sold to someone who cannot demonstrate serious objectives which have the possiblity of enhancing the breed in general. People who just want to 'buy the name' of a great dog should not be allowed to use the semen.

Questionnaire to Aid in Selecting Qualified Bitches

  1. Conformation of the bitch.
    • Is the bitch within the standard for height and bone? Describe.
    • Does the bitch have a properly angulated shoulder? Describe.
    • Does the bitch have a properly angulated rear assembly, and does it balance the front assembly? Describe.
    • Does the bitch have a proper head for the breed? Describe.
    • Does the bitch conform to the breed standard in all parameters? Describe.
    • What do you hope to improve on you bitch by using this semen? Describe.
  2. Temperament
    • Does the bitch have a suitable temperament according to the standard? Describe.
    • Is the bitch's temperament stable? Describe.
    • Has the bitch produced stable puppies? Describe.
    • Can the bitch respond to training in the breed's appropriate work? Describe.
    • Is the bitch a 'good mother'? Describe
  3. Breeding History
    • Age of the bitch.
    • List all health clearances.
    • Has she produced puppies? Describe.
    • Has she been bred and failed to whelp or produced dead puppies? Describe.
    • When was her last litter?
    • How many litters has she had? Describe.
    • How many breeding attempts? Describe.
    • How many puppies lived to adulthood of those whelped. Describe.
  4. Health
    • Supply the health history of all the dogs back 3 generations in the bitch's pedigree.
    • Supply the health history of siblings.
    • Supply the health history of puppies produced by the bitch, and what sires were involved.
  5. Pedigree
    • Furnish the bitch's pedigree. Comment on the pedigree.
    • Explain how you think the pedigree of your bitch is compatible with that of the dog.
    • Explain where you think your pedigree is lacking and what can be improved by the stud dog.
    • Explain where you think your pedigree can improve on that of the stud dog's.
  6. Puppies
    • What do you intend to do with the puppies?
    • How many litters do you have in a year ? -- in total?
    • How many puppies do you have returned in a year? -- in total?
    • What puppies do you expect to keep from a litter?
    • How many dogs are in your home? Your kennel?
    • What breeding plans have you for the puppies?

Other considerations such as housing and the like are discussed in the article Information Required Before Contracting For Stud Service; you may wish to ask these questions as well. What you hope to elicit from the questions above is information about the bitch owner's knowledge of the breed, the line, and the bitch. You would hope to find a wealth of knowledge about the health of the bitch's line and about the breeder's future plans for the line.

The best interests of the breed itself should be the determining factor in the allocation of frozen semen from dead dogs. There should be no hurry to use it up. Some should be allocated, if it is applicable, for the genetic testing which is available in your breed (if any). It may be very difficult to say 'No' to people who wish to use the semen. It may be in your best interests to remove youself from the process somewhat and use a series of questions such as we have suggested here. Perhaps you would be more comfortable to give a voice in the decision process over to a third party who is knowledgeable about all aspects of pedigrees and who is not associated with your breed. This would allow you to truthfully say to those clamoring to use the semen that it is out of your hands -- or at least that you have to consult with someone over its use. Whatever else you may have felt about the stud dog while he was alive, once he has died, his semen becomes a very different kind of resource to the breed than it was while he lived.

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