Reproductive Services



What day is best to start testing for progesterone?

We recommend starting progesterone testing on day 7-8 of your female dog’s heat cycle If you are certain you caught the first day of her heat. If you are unsure, start on the day you see the first sign of bloody vaginal discharge or swelling if she keeps herself very clean. Routine progesterone testing helps determine and monitor a number of points throughout your dog’s pregnancy. Progesterone testing is conducted in the early stages of pregnancy when symptoms could suggest a failing pregnancy, or throughout the pregnancy to monitor the health of the placenta and offspring’s health. Our fast and efficient service gives breeders same-day results!

Progesterone and Vaginal Cytology:

Because of the expense, and critical nature of the appropriate time of mating or insemination, progesterone testing is critical to the breeding process. We provide accurate in-house progesterone testing and can calculate the most optimal days for breeding. To enhance the success of pregnancy, we also perform vaginal cytology on your female dog. This requires taking a swab of the vaginal cells and then analyzing for cornification under a microscope. Rutherford and Hwy 400 Animal Hospital provides all these services so responsible breeders can maximize the dog's chances at successful pregnancy.

Signs and symptoms of a heat cycle:

The most notable sign is vaginal bleeding. This may not become apparent until a few days after the female has actually come into oestrus. Vulvar swelling should be taken as the first sign in addition to the female paying increased attention (such as licking the area) to her rear end. From the beginning of the heat period she will be attractive to male dogs, but will usually not be receptive, or allow mating, until about 7-10 days later. The discharge will usually become less bloodstained at this time. Some females experience heavy vaginal bleeding during oestrus. If you are concerned, please consult your veterinarian. You may also find that she is passing small quantities of urine more frequently. The urine contains both pheromones and hormones which signal any interested males that she will be receptive soon.

How Soon After An Oestrous Cycle Can A Bitch Be Spayed/Fixed?

When an animal is in season, there is an increased blood supply to both the uterus and the ovaries. Dogs can be spayed/fixed whilst they are in season, but generally we recommend to do the surgery 8 weeks after the start of their last oestrous cycle. 

Is there a benefit to one type of breeding over another?

There are 3 kinds of semen and 4 kinds of breeding’s. There is fresh semen, fresh chilled/shipped semen, and frozen semen. The 4 kinds of breeding are natural (where there is a mating with a tie), Artificial vaginal insemination, trans cervical insemination (TCI) where the semen is placed into the uterus with an endoscope and camera, and surgical insemination.


Transcervical inseminations may be performed on a standing bitch, typically without sedation. TCI can be utilized with fresh, chilled, shipped, and frozen semen. Best results are seen with fresh or chilled shipped semen. TCI utilizes a scope to pass a catheter through the cervix and deposit the semen into the uterine lumen, without the potential complications of surgical insemination and with no general anesthesia required. The timing of TCI depends upon the type of semen being used. TCI may be combined with other types of insemination to maximize coverage during the fertile period.


Surgical insemination is typically only recommended for use with frozen semen, highly valuable semen, or when fertility issues have been a problem. This is an invasive surgical procedure so it has risks not associated with other insemination techniques. If frozen semen is being used, a surgical AI is typically performed about 72 hours after ovulation. Ideally, the progesterone levels during this time are between 15–25ng/dl or 45-75nmol/L. Surgical insemination may be combined with other breeding techniques, such as TCI before the surgical procedure is done; however, repeat surgical inseminations are not performed during the same cycle.

Bitches must be minimum 18 months of age and no older then 5 years, males must be a minimum of 1 year of age. Please contact clinic for fees of reproductive services.

Why is a pre-breeding exam needed? (Stud/bitch)

We need to assess males and females for health and fertility. For both, we do a complete physical examination, including assessing dental health, respiratory and cardiac function, lymph node and abdominal palpation, and the part of an orthopedic evaluation determined by physical examination. For the males, we assess testicle size, shape and character, penile health, and prostate health. For the females, we assess mammary glands, vaginal size, position, shape, and characteristics, and for umbilical and inguinal hernias. By doing this evaluation, we have a better idea of the overall health of the dog as well as catching problems that may play a role in fertility, breeding, and the ability to produce and deliver healthy puppies.  

When are bitches/studs ready to breed?

A bitch should not be bred on her first heat cycle, she needs more time to mature physically and mentally which is why we require her to be a minimum of 18 months and no older then 5 years. The time to breed her during her heat cycle is timed based on progesterone testing. The other advantage to progesterone testing is to know when she is due to whelp. A stud should not be bred until he is at least 1 year of age, he also needs more time to mature physically and mentally so as to produce semen that is of the quality we require for breeding’s.

Why is a teaser needed for collecting?

Even experienced male dogs have better collections when a teaser, a dog in heat, is used to entice him. We can collect up to 50% more sperm in a collection when using a teaser.

What are the advantages of a pregnancy ultrasound?

A pregnancy ultrasound should be performed around day 30 days after the date of your last breeding. Ultrasound is the optimal method to confirm pregnancy and evaluate fetal health, and can sometimes provide a rough estimate of litter size. However, a late-term x-ray is necessary during the last week of pregnancy, any time after day 50 to get an accurate puppy count. For bitches that will be whelping naturally, an x-ray should be performed during the last week of pregnancy to get an accurate puppy count and to compare fetal size to the bitch’s birth canal. If it is a very small litter (< 2 puppies) and/or the puppies are too large, a caesarean section will likely be necessary.  

What is the process of shipping and receiving semen?

Shipping semen outside of Canada may require extensive planning, particularly when the semen will be shipped to island states or countries. Without appropriate planning and certain tests being done on the stud dog, many locations will not allow the semen to be imported. Advance planning is required no matter where or when the semen will be shipped and used. There is specific paperwork that must be signed by the stud dog owners or co-owners to allow for its use and the ability to register pups produced from the semen with the AKC, UKC, CKC or other registries. Locations that will store frozen semen need to be made aware that the semen will be arriving so they can arrange to accept and store the semen safely.  

Pre-Breeding Screening & Testing

Brucellosis Test

  • We are proud to be a Brucellosis-free hospital
  • We require a Brucellosis negative certificate within the last 6 months for all breeding dogs
  • Same day results along with a certificate of the negative test status

Baseline Blood Work

  • We recommend baseline chemistry/ blood counts +/- thyroid levels prior to breeding
  • If there is underlying disease, pregnancy may make these conditions worse
  • Ensuring you are breeding a healthy dog is critical to the wellbeing of parents and pups
  • Additional services and tests are available – please ask if there is a service you would like


Whelping Management and Caesarean sections

Our goal is to have a successful conception, a normal pregnancy and an incident-free birth with no complications. If problems do arise that need immediate attention, early intervention can make the difference between a puppy's survival or death. We are available to support you at every stage of this process; breeding, pregnancy, whelping, and lactation. Whelping issues do arise in some breeds. A c-section is performed to safely remove babies from a pregnant female when there may be signs of complications.


  • Planned C-sections Only!! Please contact emergency clinics for emergency C-sections.
  • Available during our office hours Wednesday – Saturday
  • We work closely with several local emergency hospitals for patients with after-hours complications
  • Accurately timing a scheduled c-section is a key component of the delivery of healthy puppies. The window to safely deliver pups is tiny – only 48 hours.
  • Experienced doctors and staff are an essential component of highly successful outcomes. Knowing when a c-section is safe, when it is the best treatment option, and efficient and accurate surgical intervention makes for the best possible outcomes.
  • Great supportive care of the bitch and her puppies, which includes IV fluids, appropriate anesthesia including an endotracheal tube during the surgery to protect the bitch's airway, proper post-op pain management for the bitch, and outstanding puppy resuscitation techniques all lead to the best outcomes possible.
  • Neonatal Health Checks & Sick Puppy Care: Up to 40% of newborn puppies are lost between conception and weaning. We think this number is too high. Our experienced veterinary professionals can help you navigate these challenging times with fragile patients. Planners save puppies. Don't wait till you have a litter in trouble. Contact us before your breeding and let us help you provide great prenatal care so we can help keep you on the right track. Our doctors and team are available 7-days a week.  

Semen Services

Semen services are performed in-house and most male dogs are easily collected at our hospital.

Comprehensive Semen Evaluation

  • Semen quality – motility and speed
  • Sperm morphology (what they look like)
  • Sperm count
  • A semen evaluation certificate is provided
  • Samples can be sent to a specialist for further evaluation when needed
  • Any concerns with the semen are discussed at the time of the evaluation and recommendations for further work-up or therapy will be made

Chilled Semen

  • Samples are collected, evaluated, chilled and packaged with MOFA media and shipping container



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