Numtan's Mission Impossible


Against all the odds Numtan got pregnant and she loves her four babies!



"Finally, we made it! It was mission impossible", writes Numtan's owner in his thank you card to Dr. Memon, theriogenologist (animal reproduction specialist) at WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Numtan,  a 21-month-old French bulldog bitch with a history of split estrus, was referred for breeding management and artificial insemination (AI) with chilled extended semen to be sent from Missouri.

At presentation, the owner stated that he observed intermittent vaginal bleeding during last 10 days. During this period the bleeding lasted for 2 days on the average. A breeding management procedure was started based on clinical signs, vaginal cytology and serum progesterone assay.

Staging the estrus cycle was based on vaginal cytology interpretation. Ovulation prediction and optimal insemination times were decided based on serum progesterone (P4) level determined by radioimmunoassay. A progesterone (ng/ml) level between 1-1.9, 2 -3.9, and 4 -10.0 indicate that ovulation would occur in 2, 1, and the same day, respectively.

Date  Clinical signs  Vaginal cytology  Progesterone (ng/ml)
02/13/01  Bloody vaginal discharge  PB, RBC, few PMN's  None
02/16/01  Bloody vaginal discharge  PB, IS (25%)  None
02/19/01  Pink color vaginal discharge, vulvar edema  IS (60%), PB (40%)  1.2
02/22/01  Straw color vaginal discharge, vulvar edema  IS, RBCs  5.7
02/26/01  Pink color vaginal discharge,  decreased vulvar edema IS  None
02/28/01  Not observed  Not observed  10.5
03/01/01*  Pink vaginal discharge  AN (10%), IS (90%)  None
03/02/01*  Bloody vaginal discharge  IS >90%, PMN's  None

PB = Parabasal epithelial cells
IS = Intermediate superficial cells
AN= Anucleated epithelial cells
PMN = P. neutrophils
* Artificial insemination

Based on the combined results of vaginal cytology and P4 levels, the first AI was scheduled on March 1st. Chilled extended semen was shipped from Missouri to Pullman, WA via an overnight carrier. Before AI, semen was examined under the microscope. No progressively motile spermatozoa were observed in the semen sample. A few sperm cells had a non-progressive oscillatory movement. Discussion with the stud owner revealed that semen was extended with a commercial extender without prior evaluation for motility or any other parameter. AI was performed with 5ml of the semen. Because of the poor quality semen, the owner was advised to request another semen shipment to be used the following day.

On the following day (March 2nd), the vaginal discharge became bloody again which is an abnormal finding, and a split heat was suspected based on the bitch's past history. The vaginal smear showed more than 90% intermediate cells with more distinct nuclei than the day before, and no cornified epithelial cells were observed. PMNs were also observed. The vaginal cytology results were consistent with the fist day of diestrus (D1). Breeding at this stage usually does not result in pregnancy or if pregnancy occurs, the litter size is small. Semen from the second shipment showed about 70% sperm motility. The bitch was inseminated again with 5ml of semen. The client was informed that there was little chance that the bitch would become pregnant due to the fist AI with poor quality semen and the 2nd AI on D1. The bloody vaginal discharge, an indication of split heat was an additional concern.

Forty-five days after the second AI, the owner reported an increase in bitch's abdominal size and enlargement of the mammary glands.

 NumtanNumtan being examined

An abdominal radiograph (x-ray) was performed a week later at 52 days post AI. Four fetal skeletons were counted.

An abdominal radiograph (x-ray)

The bitch's owner had been warned by his peers about the birth difficulties in French bulldogs and was advised to seek an elective C-section.  Whelping was predicted to be 57-58 days after D1. Exactly on the due date (58 days after D1), April 29th at 10PM, the owner upon his returning from work noticed the bitch shivering and took her to an emergency veterinary clinic. Upon arrival at the clinic, the owner noticed that the bitch had delivered a puppy in the car during the 20-minute ride. The emergency clinic veterinarian offered to allow the bitch to deliver the remaining 3 puppies on her own or have a C-section performed. The owner opted for a C-section and the remaining 3 puppies were delivered. All 4 puppies were normal and healthy.


Numtan's puppiesNumtan's puppies

Numtan's puppiesNumtan's puppiesNumtan's puppies

Normal semen quality, accurate timing of AI, and appropriate site of semen deposition are the 3 important factors to consider for success in achieving pregnancy following AI with chilled extended semen into normal bitches.

Dog owners and breeders can learn about the above mentioned breeding management and other topics related to canine reproduction. WSU offers canine reproduction courses on-line. The next course will be offered in September 2001. Interested dog owners and breeders can get more information at the following Web address-

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Revised September 11, 2002