In the Australian breeding context, a naturally conceived litter does not need to occur before the use of artificial insemination. The FLCNSW supports the option of artificial insemination for maiden bitches and previously unused sires.
This Recommendation has no equivalent in other breeding guidance. The aim here is to clarify our breeding position in respect of FCI guidance. The FCI-IBR 13 specifies that AI should not be used on animals which have not reproduced naturally before. “Exceptions can be made…. to preserve or increase the genetic pool within the breed.”
Artificial insemination is rare in Finland, but has been used frequently in the Australian lapphund community. Of the litters whelped in Australia in 2016, 28% (11/29) used imported semen. This high proportion of AI litters does merit special mention as our breeding custom differs markedly from the breeding norms in the breed’s country of origin.
Australia has notably stringent quarantine requirements for imported dogs. The FLCNSW considers that the use of AI enhances the pool of available sires, overcomes the health consequences of population bottlenecking due to a small establishment import population, and alleviates the cost and logistical challenges of importing stud dogs. Chilled AI may reasonably be used to overcome distances between breeding dogs within Australia.
Castration/neutering without a medical reason is rare and discouraged in Finland, but is usual practice for ‘pet dogs’ in Australia. The Australian practice of early neutering artificially restricts the pool of available sires. Unfortunately early neutering is encouraged by local and state governments. This practice is unlikely to change. The collection and storage of frozen semen prior to neutering may allow for the future breeding of dogs that may show great health and breeding potential as they age, but who would not otherwise be bred.
Delayed use of frozen semen allows time to fully assess the potential of a prospective sire as he ages. It also artificially increases the generation time which is good for minimising genetic drift within the breed. Additionally, current Australian breeders are choosing to include an impressively wide range of stud dogs, including rare lines and older, little used sires in their semen import choices. The majority of Australian older dogs in pet homes are neutered, but Australian breeders may locate worthy intact older unused dogs overseas. The import of semen from these dogs (subject to appropriate health testing) is a very reasonable breeding strategy.
These factors are all likely to be good for breed diversity and health. As the breed has an excellent natural mating and whelping ability, the likelihood that any given maiden bitch or unused stud would have been unable to mate naturally is very small. The genetic diversity benefits granted by a wider choice of sires is likely to be considerable. For these reasons, the FLCNSW supports the option of AI for appropriately health-tested maiden bitches and unused/unproven sires.