Shipping Canine Semen


Suggestions for Shipping Canine Semen 

Since the Sept.11 attack on the United States, dog breeders have been faced with not being able to ship boxes containing chilled canine semen on the airlines unless they are registered shippers. This leaves them to depend on other shipping companies such as FedEx or UPS to provide overnight service.

This becomes an issue when these companies do not have deliveries on the weekends or holidays. To avoid costly mistakes in shipping the semen either too early or too late, I am listing some guidelines for the dog breeder to be aware of.

Start progesterone tests on the bitch by the fifth day of her heat. Depending of what her nanogram number is, you’ll either need to do another progesterone test the next day or in several days. If in doubt, contact your veterinarian or get advice from a canine reproduction specialist. Keep the stud owner aware of the test results so that they can be ready to ship the semen when it’s needed. Ideally, we want to do the breeding when the bitch’s eggs are mature/ripe. My experience has shown that bitch’s are at 10 ng (nanograms) or higher 48 hours after ovulation. With progesterone tests taking a full day to receive results, then shipping the semen takes overnight, two days will pass before the bitch owner can get the semen for the artificial insemination after a progesterone test. For this reason, when the bitch’s progesterone level reaches 5ng, (or a number close to that, such as 4.8ng), we need to call the stud owner and ask them to collect the dog and ship the semen. This assures the semen will arrive when the bitch’s eggs are mature and ready for fertilization.

Be aware that Saturday deliveries may not be available in all parts of the country. You’ll need to ask the FedEx or whatever company you are using, if Saturday delivery is available in the area you are shipping to. The stud owner needs to know the pick up time and be assured that overnight delivery is guaranteed from the company you are using. This is especially crucial if you are using a local shipping business such as Post Net or Mail Boxes, Etc to send or receive your semen. Be sure to ask! And be sure to save the receipt with the tracking number!

If Saturday delivery is not available where the semen is being sent, you can arrange to have the semen be shipped to the FedEx distribution office and bitch owner picks up the box there. If you are facing a three day weekend or holiday, you should ship semen on day the test results have the bitch’s progesterone at 4ng to assure to have a breeding prior the long weekend. Waiting until the next business day may mean missing the optimum time to breed your bitch. Many of the semen extenders can help the semen survive an extra day as long as the ice packs stay cold. In fact, I have collected a stud on Saturday and shipped by FedEx for a Monday delivery. The semen arrived in excellent condition.

In most states, the lab will send results to the vet the following morning, so remember that you lose one day in receiving the test result and it will take a second day to have the semen shipped overnight.

The rule is: "Breed your bitch two days after a 5 nanogram reading", but if shipping is impossible because of a three day weekend or holiday, have the semen shipped as closely to the 5 ng as possible. The bitch should have another progesterone test on Saturday. Ask the vet to call the lab (or have his staff call) to get the results on Sunday morning (Yes, they can do this!) That test result will determine if another collection should be sent on Monday for a Tuesday breeding.

The semen is collected, mixed with an extender and cooled. Then packaged according to instructions for type of containers used for shipping semen. These Styrofoam boxes are tested to hold at a specific temperature. The semen should not drop below 40 degrees, ideally being held at 45 degrees, so test the internal temperature with a thermometer, you may need to add more insulation between the vial of semen and ice packs in most of the shippers. The vial of extended semen cannot be ‘sandwiched’ between frozen ice packs, it will become too cold and die. Packing instructions for the shipper must be followed closely. It is also crucial that the semen doesn’t becomes too warm, however once the container is shipped, we have no control to safe guard it from external conditions.

Usually, the stud owner will take the container to the shipper of their choice. As stated previously, be sure to have the facts on delivery and keep the receipt with a tracking number. The bitch owner will need to order one or two shipping containers with semen extender and ship to the owner of the stud. It’s best to order these as soon as the bitch comes into heat. I usually keep a few available for last minute emergencies, but because the semen extenders have a six month shelf life, I only keep a few on hand. The bitch owner pays all costs pertaining to the breeding, this includes buying the shipping containers, cost of shipping the semen and the fee for collecting the stud dog.

The stud owner will either have to make an appointment with their veterinarian or canine breeding specialist to have the dog collected well in advance to the shipping company’s pick-up time. I recommend having the container at the shipping company at least an hour prior to pick up.

If you have questions, please contact me. I’ll be glad to give you advice to help you have a successful breeding by artificial insemination.

Bette Reese

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