Reproduction of companion animals


Currently, the team of reproduction of companion animals is focusing on 2 research research lines

Optimizing the current cryopreservation process for dog semen and establishment of an open canine semen bank

Only 5% of pedigree dogs is at present being used for breeding. To increase the number of breeding dogs, one solution could be to start a canine semen bank based on the principle of semen donation, like in humans. Many dog owners have no desire to become dog breeders but are willing to preserve the genetic material of their dog, if offered this possibility. However, not all canine ejaculates are suitable for cryopreservation as the initial quality may differ and the resistance of sperm cells to survive the freezing procedure is highly variable. In order to freeze the semen of as many male dogs as possible, it is important to optimize and individualize the cryopreservation protocol per ejaculate. Practically, frozen semen can be stored in the CanIfreeze-semen bank or in veterinary practices adjacent to the owner of the bitch and can be used for insemination at a later time.

Interested in participating in this project?

We are looking for intact male dogs that might be presented as a semen donor: if you are interested in participating, you can contact us by email or call 09 264 75 64

Impact of neutering bitches on long-term health

The first advantage of neutering bitches, and the main reason why vets recommend it, is limiting the prevalence of unwanted litters (population control) in shelter dogs, dogs with hereditary diseases, dogs not meant for breeding. Besides that, prevention of heat symptoms is an important reason: unwanted sexual behaviour, run away from home and vaginal blood loss bother some of the owners.  Finally, neutering decreases the prevalence of pyometra and mammary tumours.

Unfortunately, neutering has also some disadvantages. It has been known for a long time already that neutered bitches are at higher risk for obesity and coat changes, but also that anxiety and aggressive behaviour might be amplified. Furthermore, there is an increased risk for certain orthopaedic problems (e.g. hip dysplasia, ligature of the cranial cruciate ligament) in bitches that were neutered at early age. Besides that, it is also well known that there is an increased risk for urinary incontinence after neutering. Recently, some recent studies pointed out that for certain breeds there is an increased risk for the development of some types of neoplasia (e.g. mast cell tumour, lymphoma/lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma) in neutered bitches.

We are currently investigating if we can observe these recently documented side effects more common in neutered bitches compared to intact females, presented at the faculty of veterinary medicine. More in detail, we focus in our study on orthopaedic problems and the prevalence of certain tumours.