Bloodlines are very important when breeding dogs; they’ve been refined and specialized over hundreds of years to create the best breeds for a wide variety of purposes. Even today, canine bloodlines are still being refined through selective breeding of only the best dogs. It stands to reason then, that when a breeder happens across a dog that performs exceptionally well, they will want that dog to sire or dam as many litters or possible. Of course, a dog can only be bred so many times in a lifetime, but there are methods that allow one to store a dog’s genetic material for future generations.
For male dogs, semen can be collected and stored for long periods of time through freezing. When first collected, semen will only stay effective in storage for between 3-5 hours. It is important to remember that sperm are essentially alive, and tend to have very short life-spans. However, immediately chilling the semen allows it to remain in storage for a much longer time; when chilled, it can often last as long as 2 days. When properly frozen, the storage-time increases exponentially. Essentially, frozen sperm can last indefinitely, but its quality and effectiveness may still degrade very slowly over time. It is important to note that properly storing frozen semen at the appropriate temperature is a difficult task. It requires temperatures lower than -300°F, and should only be attempted by a professional with proper safety equipment.
Unfortunately, the amount of time a sperm cell spends in storage is inversely proportional to the amount of time it will survive once warmed to body temperature and introduced to the uterus. Fresh semen will typically survive in an intrauterine environment for as many as 5 days, while chilled semen may only survive between 2-3 days. Frozen semen has the shortest intrauterine life-span, and may only last about a day. The chances of pregnancy occurring are directly related to the amount of time that sperm are able to survive within the uterus. This means that fresh semen has the highest chance of successfully leading to pregnancy, while frozen semen has the lowest.
Whether you’re breeding German Shepherd puppies, Belgian Malinois puppies, or Dutch Shepherd puppies, you should keep in mind that fresh semen and natural conception are always the preferred methods. Due to the costs of having semen stored at the appropriate temperature, as well as reduced effectiveness after being frozen, freezing and storing semen should only be done when absolutely necessary.