Interview with Our Very Own FBDCA Breeder Vets
A Collaborative Effort by the FBDCA Breeders Education Committee
I asked a few of my colleagues and FBDCA member veterinarians
three basic breeding questions. I hope that we may all gain some insight from hearing how Frenchie breeder-vets manages their own breedings. I thank my interviewees for their time, as I know how precious it can be!
The questions asked are listed below along with the responses of Dr.
Dorit Fischler, Dr. Nancy Newcomb and Dr. Jean Burns. Dr. Fischler has been breeding French bulldogs for almost twenty years under the esteemed Belboulecan kennel name. To her credit are multiple specialty placing, group winning and Best Puppy in Show winning dogs; as well as dogs that are winning and impacting pedigrees worldwide.
Dr. Newcomb, an AKC judge, and her husband Bob have been
breeding top-winning bulldogs for a combined 50 years and are BCA Hall of fame Breeders and have over 25 champions, multiple BISS and BIS winners to their credit. She has added Frenchies to her home in recent years.
And lastly, Dr. Burns, who breeds Frenchies and Dogue de
Bordeaux in Florida, has had some top winning dogs in both breeds,
including the 2008 National Specialty’s Winners Dog. I hope you enjoy
what they have to say. Question: As a breeder and vet how do you time your breedings? Do
you use progesterone? LH? Vaginal smears? How do you conduct most
breedings? TCI, AI, Sx AI? Do you do one or more breedings? What is
your success rate with each type? Answers: Dr. Nancy Newcomb:
I have been a bulldog breeder for 20 years now and
admit I am still learning. I ALWAYS alert the stud dog owner when the
bitch comes in season and keep them informed of her progression. As a
stud dog owner myself, it is not much fun to get a call from someone
needing semen the very next day or that same day after you have just
collected and shipped. The stud dog owner should be prepared while
traveling by taking along semen boxes and extenders. Also, the stud dog
may have more than one breeding lined up at a time so you want to be on
the top of their list.
I time all my breedings with progesterone testing. I use the Canine Target
Test from Biometallics for all my fresh or chilled AI breedings. I start
testing on day 5 of her season after she shows blood and test every other
day until the test is greater than 5.0. Near the end of the testing I may
choose to test every day. I always do artificial Inseminations (AI) as not
to stress the dog or bitch. I do fresh or chilled breedings the day of or day
after the progesterone test turns 5.0, skip a day and breed again.
If It is going to be over the weekend and I am not sure if semen will be
needed before Tuesday, I may choose to have a shipment sent for Saturday
delivery just in case. That is, if the shipment is coming with UPS or FedEx.
If the stud dog owner has airport privileges then weekends are not a
problem. I recently recommended this for someone breeding to our male
and she was glad when her bitch's test said to breed on Sunday that she
had semen there.
If I am doing a breeding with frozen semen, I start out with the witness LH
test on day 5 from Synbiotics and follow up with quantitative progesterone
levels to double check that ovulation has occured. I am lucky to have a
local lab nearby (Gary Moore - Once Frozen) that does the progesterone
test for me each day and sometimes two times a day. When I do a frozen
semen breeding I always do a Sx implant of the semen. I draw my blood
samples at the same time each day to better predict the LH peak. I do one
sx implant on day 5 or 6 post LH peak at the same time of the day I am
drawing my blood samples. I will choose which day (5 or 6) depending
on when the progesterone test is greater than 5.0, and then do it 72 hrs
All of my breedings seem to have about a 75% success rate. I ALWAYS
check the semen quality myself before breeding. I am hearing great things
about TCI but have no experience with this procedure. I no longer do
vaginal smears as I consider this test outdated as you can be off + or - 7
days with its results. I do not recommend Sx breedings unless I am using
frozen semen, the dog has compromised semen quality, or bitch has
missed before. Dr. Dorit Fischler:
Timed breeding, by determining ovulation with
progesterone tests and possibly cytology to confirm diestrus and
parturition date, is essential as well as taking body temperature 3-4 times a
day at least 5 days before expected C-section date. Dr. Jean Burns:
48 hours after the P4 is 5.0 if fresh or chilled semen, 72
hours if frozen and that would be a surgical insemination, success rate is
greater than 90% Question: How do you time your C- sections? What methods do you use
for sections? Please include anesthesia protocol, antibiotic use, pain
control and anything else pertinent? Answers: Dr. Newcomb:
Since I always do progesterone testing I time my C-sections
for 59-61 days after the last breeding. If the female is in distress I do at 59
days and if she is doing well I can wait a day or so. This way I can
schedule things at a good time with lots of trained help.
I place an IV catheter and start maintenance fluids. I give IV proprofol to
effect a gentle tracheal intubation and then maintain anesthesia with
sevoflourane gas. I always do a ventral midline incision and quickly
remove each pup and placenta, tie off the cord with gut, then cut the cord
and pass the pup off to a whelping assistant.
A whelping assistant is a trained pet nurse or experienced breeder.
These assistants are standing by to take each puppy and gently revive it by
aspirating fluids, rubbing and giving dopram(respiratory stimulant) as
needed. A warm box awaits the pups after they are pink and screaming.
After all pups are removed I give 1.5ml of oxytocin IM to help with
bleeding by shrinking the uterus.
If the owner wants an elective spay at this time, I may choose to do it if all
is well and there are only one or two pups. I also give 1ml/10lbs of
penicillin IM, 0.1ml/10lbs torbutrol IM for pain. I will send home
additional oxytocin injections as needed and oral pain meds such as
rimadyl or metacam. Of course other things may be needed depending on
the history of the bitch. Another thing I do is dip all the umbilical cords in
iodine tincture. Dr. Fischler:
Most bitches are due 63 days from ovulation date so I usually
try to plan my C-section 62 days past ovulation.
The routine well-tested protocol is Atropine, Propofol and Isoflurane I
recommend to stick to what has proven successful and safe. Dr. Burns:
I wait for the temp to drop and the bitch to start stage one
labor. Propofol/Diazepam for induction, Isoflurane forgas, Keflin pre op
IV, Metacam for pain pre-op intravenously, post-op torbugesic and ace. I
also give a .5mg/lb injection of DexNaPO4 sub q for tracheal swelling and
irritation. I have not had any problems with mixing the one dose of steroid
with the NSAID. To go home, I use Metacam and Tramadol as needed,
Clavamox for 10 days Question: How do you raise a litter, particularly the first few weeks?
What is the temperature of the box? Do you leave mom with pups?
Take time off or bring mom and pups to work? Other useful tips. Answers: Dr. Newcomb:
I like to be home or someone be home for the first 3-4 days.
I do not like to take my pups to work with me, as I do not want to expose
them to anything there. Sometimes I will take a pup to work that I am
doing intensive care with and it is off limits to everyone but me.
Some folks have human grade incubators but I use a medium sized deep
plastic box that you can get from Wal Mart. The kind that has a lid but I
do not use the lid. I will cover the box with a blanker or pad. I place a
heating pad in the box at one end leaving 1/2 of the box so that the pups
can crawl off the heating pad if they are too warm. The first day the
heating pad is on medium heat and after that low is usually warm
enough. Pups piled up may indicate cold and pups all over the place
panting indicate too warn. I use several layers of blankets/fuzzy
pads over the heating pad as it can burn a puppy. The box is in a draft
free low traffic area that I can watch with an eagle eye.
Pups are fed on the mom every 4 hours for the first 2 weeks and then they can eat enough to go longer. A problem pup may require more feedings or other things best determined by your DVM. I do not leave pups with the mom unless I know she is to be trusted. Sometimes this means pups are never left with the mom and sometimes after a few days or week I can leave them with her. Each and every litter may be different. Pups may eat their fill each time.
If you are tube or bottle feeding (mom does not have adequate milk.) do this
before they nurse mom so you do not overfeed. There are many milk
replacers both homemade and store bought. Goat’s milk is great if you can
get it fresh. I add Gerber Baby Rice cereal to the milk to thicken just a little
so the pups do not choke on the formula. I have a nice whelping box
for feeding time. A small plastic children's swimming pool works well
for this or you can make your own or find one on the Internet.
After each meal the pups should be pottied by having their mom lick their
genitals and rectum or you do it with a warm cloth or some toilet paper.
Pups should urinate each time and defecate about every other time. Mom's
tongue is best so offer them to her each time until she takes to the job.
Sometimes if you put some vaseline on the rear of the pup she will take to
it sooner. This might take several days or even a week.
Do not forget about mom's incision. Clean with a moist cloth daily and
apply baby powder if the area looks wet. If there are sutures they should
be removed in 10 days. Umbilical cords will fall off by themselves in a
day or so. Never pull on them. Eyes will open in about 10 days. Never
force them open. Any questions call your DVM or experienced
breeder. For weaning I like Royal Canin baby dog for the first week or so.
Make an appointment with your DVM for vax and stool checks at 6
weeks. I keep littermates together until 8 weeks old before placing in their
new homes. Dr. Fischler:
New puppies need to be supervised around the clock and fed
every 2 hours. Helping them find the teat insuring that all puppies are
latched on together to trigger good milk let down is essential. Cleaning the
puppies’ genitals and anal area at each feeding either with the dam’s
help or with a Kleenex or a soft warm wet cloth if the stool is glued to the
anal area is vital. Puppies who do not produce an adequate urine quantity
may not be getting enough milk. Palates should always be checked for cleft
right after the C-section.
Dams sitting on a puppy and suffocating it are a real danger for the first 10
days until they are of a noticeable size. Puppies need food every 2 hours
until they weigh around 400 gr then they can go every 4 hours by 2 weeks
of age they usually need feeding every 6 hours.
Warming up a weak puppy is very important. I tube feed to rehydrate and
energize the puppy. Initially I use only warmed pediatric electrolyte
solution then formula diluted 50% with pedialyte. Once the puppy is well
I try letting it nurse again or if still not working would consider a
bottle or continuing tube feeding.
I use a children’s plastic pool and a red chicken infrared bulb hung above
and use a thermometer to measure the necessary distance to produce 85
degrees Fahrenheit below.
I always insure that puppies have enough space so that they can move
away from the lamp if they are too hot and that there is enough ventilation
in the surrounding room that the entire room is not sweltering hot…. dams
whether in a crate beside the box or in the whelping box can overheat.
Pick an experienced conscientious veterinarian who will do the C-section
by the book as well as getting enough help for puppy resuscitation and
who listens to your particular concerns. Dr. Burns:
Personally, my puppies go with me back and forth to work
every day. I do not heat the playpen. Sometimes if it is cool (not often in
South Florida) I use warmed up bags of fluids or exam gloves with water
inside and microwave them. Our moms stay with their puppies.
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