Question of the Week
Homer Glen, Illinois
I am in full support of canine semen banks sponsored by parent clubs. I think they could help protect the diversity of the breeds we love so much and may have a positive impact on health as technology progresses.
Cynthia A. Lockwood
Yes, I think reproductive banks are extremely important. Recently I helped a friend with a breeding with her 14-year-old West Highland White Terrier semen that had been in storage. She had been looking for the right bitch in her line, which I had.
I use one of the very best reproductive vets on the West Coast, Dr. Cynthia Smith of Lakewood, Washington. She pinpointed when my bitch would be prime for breeding, the semen had been sent, and the straws were used (all 14). Out of all the straws we got one male pup. One. However, he is a beauty. He is now four, a Grand Champion and the sire of several more champions and able to carry on the line for my friend.
So, yes, it is worth using semen banks. I use them to store semen on my show boys as added insurance should anything happen to any of them (after learning the hard way when I lost a great beauty of a boy to cancer early in his career).
No, I DO NOT think it is the responsibility of either the AKC or the parent club. It is SOLELY the responsibility of the owner of the stud dog. What would be next? Not needing the permission or guidance of the semen owner? Who would get possession of the semen upon the owner’s death?
It is a rabbit hole that shouldn't be entered.
Dr. Charles Garvin
The Otterhound club should be applauded for the tremendous groundwork they did in setting up their breed-specific reproduction bank. However, four years later, only one other club has asked AKC for permission to set up their own bank.
So, at the urging of CEO Dennis Sprung, AKC recently approved establishing a separate entity, the AKC Purebred Preservation Bank (AKCPPB), to make it easier for parent clubs to preserve valuable frozen semen for future generations by providing the substantial required administrative, managerial, and legal infrastructure and funding. Parent clubs would have the responsibility and authority to establish criteria for acceptance and disbursement of the semen, and establishing their decision-making processes and dispute resolution mechanisms. Some parent clubs may choose to not participate, and some breeders may not be involved with their parent club, for whatever reason, and accommodations will be made for those situations.
Whether a breeder chooses to use a breed-specific bank or the new AKCPPB, the critical step is to ensure that today’s frozen semen can be saved and appropriately used in future decades. Possible uses include reconstructing a breed teetering on extinction, dealing with a genetic bottleneck and decreased diversity, or bypassing a newly discovered genetic disease. The AKCPPB Workgroup continues to welcome comments and suggestions as the myriad of critical details are worked out.
Blue Ridge, Georgia
I would prefer to see the parent clubs take the rein on a reproduction bank. I would be interested in what others think the criteria would look like to apply for frozen semen under the purview of the club(s).
Clayton, North Carolina
Although a noble idea, the devil is in the details. On what basis are dogs selected? Is it based on winning records, producing records, health records? Who is in control of the semen? What dogs are collected, who gets to use, who is paying for the storage, does the owner give up all rights to the semen? More detail is required in order to make a reasonable decision.
Bluffton, South Carolina
I am intrigued by the thought that stud owners could further perpetuate a dog’s contribution to their breed by having its semen stored with their national club. Bitch owners aren’t aware of all the dogs with frozen semen stored all over the country.
AKC is not the best organization to deal with semen from all the breeds, let alone being capable of discussing the history of every dog whose semen they control.
Yes, I’m in favor of having the Irish Setter Club of America be the guardian of my dog’s semen – not all, but whatever amount I choose to send.
Contracts must be clearly written to protect the stud dog’s semen owner, plus an inventory should be available to bitch owners who have an interest in finding frozen semen for their breeding program.
Who better to maintain such an inventory than a parent club?
It seems fair that the national clubs should receive a small commission for “selling” the semen, mainly to offset the cost of storage.
This is a brilliant idea, and I would endorse it as a stud dog owner AND a breeder!
Not only no, but HELL NO! THE AKC HAS NO BUSINESS STICKING ITS NOSE INTO SEMEN OWNERS’ PRIVATE BUSINESS. What owners of frozen choose to do with it is their own business, not the AKC’s. In my opinion, the AKC can’t even deal practically with current problems, let alone becoming involved with private breedings. There are firms that store frozen semen, and we owners who decide which dogs are good enough breed representatives to save their semen pay a lot of money to have the dogs collected and the semen stored. And we are very thoughtful and selective in its use! It’s almost laughable to think that the AKC would have the intelligence OR money to take on such an insurmountable task. Unless, of course, they decide to be Nazis and control all breeding. Duh!
I am surprised and disturbed that Dog News would publish such a question!
I think this is a great idea! It should be the breed clubs, not the AKC that could offer it to the general public! I have Boxers, and unfortunately we are losing the older breeders at an alarming rate. While I know a few have made arrangements for the preservation of the frozen semen they have, how many more have not, or do not have the financial means or family who can or are willing to manage or be responsible for such priceless items? I know of several old-time dogs I would be willing to pay for. And the breed clubs could set up a committee that could then screen the bitches to be used (we all know we don’t want Fluffy who comes from a long line of BYBd to receive such a gift!). Now this would not be for everyone, as I said some can set up safeguards for the semen they hold. But for the average breeder this could give them a way of passing on this treasure!
Westhampton Beach, New York
Should the American Kennel Club own and decide who gets to use the vials? NO.
Should the parent club own and decide who gets to use the vials? NO.
It is semen from MY dog(s), and how I choose for it to be used or inherited should be left up to me, and only me, and not someone else or an organization.
There are lines out there that I have no interest in breeding to, and would never want my dog’s semen used with based on the AKC or the parent club's opinion.
Actually I would want the sperm destroyed before giving unknown people at the AKC, or people from the parent club, the right to decide how my dog’s sperm should be used.
Does the AKC know the health issues behind every Irish Setter line?
Sounds like they're trying to play Russian roulette.
Not with my beloved, healthy, sound line!
Lenoir City, Tennessee
We should absolutely preserve our breeds through the technology provided by cryopreservation. In some breeds the contributions of a particular stud dog may not be realized until he has passed on. This technology gives breeders the opportunity to reach back and bring those dogs into their breeding programs, which in many cases may help to improve their breeding stock in an area that the stud dog may be prepotent in.
The technology has been used in cattle and humans for decades with proof of substantial success. In humans, my wife Carol was the embryologist in two record-breaking cases where wonderful, healthy children were born from embryos that had been frozen for well over 25 years.
Obviously, if used wisely, it can be a great benefit to breeders, especially in this day and time where most breeders have a limited capacity on the number of dogs they can keep in each situation.
I am well aware of what the Otterhound club has done with their reproduction-bank program and find this groundbreaking idea fantastic. I think if other breed clubs do this, especially for low-entry breeds, it could very well save the most vulnerable breeds from elimination and will broaden the gene pool with some very good known and "unknown" dogs. I strongly encourage AKC to start fostering this concept, and encourage all breed clubs to research and consider it. I see no downside to this project, only positive results. If as many dogs as possible are collected and stored for future use, it could be rewarding to many pedigrees and enhance the gene pool with options for dogs that are not necessarily in the breed ring. Many times the best dogs are in someone's backyard.
Margaret (Peggy) Wolfe
I think the idea is a good one for people truly invested in the good of the breed and for breeders who want to see their work continue to contribute. From a mechanical point of view, I see no real problem with allowing an organization to be dubbed the owner of a dog or the semen in the registration process.
I think it will be terribly difficult if not impossible to administer such a breeding program as an “entity." First because it entirely changes the breeding decisions. And second because of the increasingly public nature of vitriolic criticism that we have today, and this proposal grossly widens the opportunity for such.
It is one thing to make decision about the use of your own dog, because you have the ultimate response to criticism: my dogs, my plans, my results, my responsibility, not yours. (An honest and elegantly irrefutable reply that, sadly, today is too often done in social media and followed by some variation of #%^*+$&@ yourself.)
If you were to delegate who will inherit your dog or the dog's frozen genes, then you are trusting the other's decisions. Things continue pretty much as usual.
But it is totally different to have an organization inherit the decision-making responsibility. Establishing an “official” organization will probably provide some agreeable standards and also some sense of impartiality to decisions, which must be some sort of consensus and which may or may not be better. These two things should provide some sense of clarity to the decisions.
The problem is not that “someone” might gain control of the group or organization who hates those bloodlines and who would direct their usage to the worst effect. No, the problem is that an official organization almost inevitably becomes accepted as an authority, sometimes THE authority, especially to newbies or to the general uninvolved public. (And we got lots of those.) So any standard set by the organization better be carefully set to accommodate the needs and customs of the individual breed community.
Second, any selection process can be taken to mean the organization endorses worthiness of both sides of the breeding ... giving what some will no doubt use for bragging rights.
And lastly, any worthy breeder recognizes when a particular crossing “worked” or not, and factors this into their next decision. Will the organization be able to do the same? Or will this not be a factor? Is it enough to say we used the genes, we did not lose them?
Even with these concerns, I think the idea is worthy of research, and I applaud the AKC's willingness to do this work. I look forward to learning more, much more.
In the meantime, perhaps a concerted effort to encourage breeders to 1) store semen and DNA of all their breeding stock and 2) designate inheritors of both dogs and materials so the bloodlines do not get lost.
Perhaps the AKC could provide the storage service to its clients and require naming designated inheritor as part of the service.
Port Ludlow, Washington
YES! I think it is a great way to help to try to preserve our breeds and diversity.
I think it may be difficult to decide who would control access to the semen and what the criteria would be for access.
The semen banks are asking for a beneficiary. This may be a way to get old dogs’ semen. AKC could ask breeders to donate frozen to AKC if they do not have anyone else to leave it to. Breeders could donate by putting the AKC down as the beneficiary.
Easley, South Carolina
I am not in favor of "reproduction banks." There's too much that could go awry with controls and chain of custody of the sperm. I think relying on sperm from the past for the future is not advancing the breed. The breed has advanced by relying on the best of the present, which is producing some outstanding stock for the future of the breed.
I am particularly voicing my opinion as a Doberman Pinscher fancier/breeder/owner who has had Dobermans since 1966. In many ways the breed has improved in terms of structure and temperament, but along the way we lost longevity and health. I have bred Dobermans in the ’70s that lived until 10-16 … and held champion/working titles. DCM is prevalent in the breed to the point it is endemic. And there is not a 100% definitive genetic test. I believe it is now expected to have DCM Dobermans, and lifespans over six are a rarity. Frozen semen on Dobermans without health issues (and I realize that one can freeze early in a dog’s life but later develop DCM) would be beneficial to all breeders as an option. The DNA on those Dobermans would be crucial to “keep the breed alive for generations.”
Acworth, New Hampshire
This is a thorny question with ramifications. I applaud the Otterhound club for embarking on a fine and sensible project, and do not believe their effort should be compromised.
Should the AKC wish, however, to achieve significant results with DNA yet support parent breed clubs, it should not only understand but acknowledge the simple but very important fact that individual breeders have worked years to perfect their “line” and that it is their “property,” not AKC's. The AKC should respect that principle, and both AKC and parent clubs should adopt policy regarding ownership.
AKC should act as a resource and assist the parent breed clubs financially and legally in order to establish and organize individual reproduction banks. I am adamant about this position principally because the AKC tends to appropriate and even monetize what is rightfully the property of the individual breeder and parent breed clubs. It has been this way since I was on the board of directors in the ’90s.
The “frequently used sire" DNA program was an utter failure simply because AKC ignored what essentially constituted a property issue and employed a rather heavy hand in an attempt to enforce a program that, frankly, was a flop. After all, the AKC is a non-profit corporation, but, more importantly, still a club of clubs.
It would be wise for all parent clubs to make arrangements to establish and maintain semen banks for their breed, whether they are large or small in population. AKC could assist by assembling guidelines for the process. The reason it is important is preservation of genetic material for future generation to use in either breeding decades later or for research. If embryo transplant were being used as a reproductive modality in the future (as is done in livestock), then preservation of embryos should also be included.
Andrew I. Kalmanash
Semen is the property of the stud-dog owner.
It cannot be used for any breeding without a sale document or other power of appointment.
To let AKC parent clubs or the AKC control breeding stock is contrary to our system of canine ownership. Currently the AKC shows no desire to adjudicate disputes between parties in breedings, but rather registers the get under both parties’ names when one party withholds signature on a registration document.
Is there a shortage of frozen semen banks? We are fortunate in that there are at least two in the Denver area. Transporting dogs to remote locations for collection can be time consuming. More veterinarians should take the training and offer these services. The responsibility of managing semen storage and shipping is huge. Frozen-semen results can be less than expected. Does the AKC allow canine semen to be stored in facilities that also store OTHER species? What requirements are needed for vets to store semen? Are those proposed storage facilities required to have staff that can inseminate?
This is an excellent idea, and one I have already discussed with older breeders in my breed. All of them thought it was a good idea. I know two breeders who have recently passed away, and those in charge of their estates did not have instructions as to the disposal of their frozen semen. With declining registrations in so many breeds, the saving of semen of old bloodlines could be critical to the health of the breed.
Sherman Oaks, California
I feel that we should bank semen. This will allow us to hopefully have a source to pull from to improvr our breeding programs. We have lost so many great dogs that I hate to think about them and what they brought to the breed and are no longer here and available to use.
The gene pools are getting smaller and smaller.
If this is implemented, we can then have a research file that will allow us to improve rather than becoming a dead-in-the-water application.
Every breed parent club should be on board with this.