Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dilemmas of International Breeding

When I first considered breeding Claire to a beautiful European dog who I saw in Paris at the World Dog Show, I assumed that I would have frozen semen imported from my chosen stud dog and delivered to a canine cryo facility in North America to patiently await Claire’s coming into season. The further I got into Frozen AI, the less likely it seemed that it will work for me.

·         FCI frowns on AI breedings for bitches that have not yet produced a litter through live cover.
13. Dogs should be able to reproduce naturally. Artificial insemination should not be used on animals which have not reproduced naturally before. Exceptions can be made by the national canine organisations to improve the health of the breed, for the welfare of the bitch or to preserve or increase the genetic pool within the breed.

While I feel that the case can definitely be made that this breeding will increase the genetic pool within the breed and definitely within North America, this determination is out of my hands.

·         The very short window of frozen semen viability (12 hours) requires careful progesterone testing, surgical implantation, and lowered fertility rates.
·         The cost for collecting, freezing, and shipping an International semen shipment is about $1,600 - $2,000, enough to buy me a plane ticket and a visit to an amazing country that I've never seen. (As it turned out, this estimate was very low. As I also had to pay for the courier fees and the container to be returned to Switzerland, the total was about $2,700)
·         The European paperwork feels daunting to me.

Eventually I realized that it may be cheaper and easier to take Claire to Switzerland for natural breeding. This would give me the chance to have several live covers instead of the singular breeding that I would have with frozen semen.

Problems with flying with Claire include:
·         Inability to plan an expensive International flight ahead of time due to the need to wait until Claire is in season. Ideally I will do at least 2 progesterone tests here to assure me that her heat is progressing to ovulation, and then fly to Switzerland for at least two covers. Hopefully she will be ready to breed when we arrive; otherwise we will be waiting days for her to be ready.
·         Limited airports that fly straight through to Switzerland from the US.
·         Expense of storing crate at airport, traveling by train or renting a car, staying in Switzerland for several days, dealing with a foreign language that I don’t speak, read or understand while caring for a dog in standing heat.
·         Stress on Claire created by 9 hours of flying to a foreign country.
·         Additional veterinary visits in Switzerland for progesterone testing and health certificate to get Claire back into the US
·         Paperwork is still daunting!

At this point, I feel overwhelmed at the trip and am back to wanting to keep my dog comfortably at home and try frozen semen. Dr Gavotte’s technique of trans-cervical insemination does not require the unsettling operation of a surgical implantation and he has a facility in his cryo network in Switzerland. The FCI requirement for a natural first breeding affects the stud dog owner, who I assume would need special permission from the SCS to allow the dog to be collected and shipped. In the US and Canada, which are not FCI countries, there is no such requirement, but FCI countries all follow FCI rules. I wish I had more experience with European kennel clubs to know whether we would be granted permission for an exception. By using the stud dog that I have chosen, a line of Barbet that has not yet been imported into North America will be available to help with the health and genetic diversity of Barbet breeding programs. Questions, questions.

I think we may be packing our suitcases after all.

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