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Infertility in female dogs


Any female dog that does not want to be bred, fails to conceive when bred or fails to carry a litter to term is said to be infertile. Much of this type of problem relates to extensive inbreeding and/or poor selection or use of breeding dogs over time.{{more}} As with male infertility, the causes of female infertility are quite numerous: hormonal imbalances, uterine dysfunction, genetic defects, endocrine disease, infections and so forth.

History will be important to flesh out the cause of any breeding failures. When did the dog first have a heat? Have the heat cycles been regular and normal? Has she been bred before, and with what results? Has she ever been pregnant and delivered a litter? These questions will put the veterinarian on the right course to proper diagnosis.

Besides history, physical examination, vaginal cytology and culture, brucellosis testing, blood counts and serum chemistries, urinalysis, hormone analysis and ultrasonography may all be used to achieve a final diagnosis. Treatment will depend on the final accurate diagnosis. Any person serious about resolving a fertility problem will need to fund a complete and thorough diagnostic work-up. It cannot be forgotten that failure to conceive can be a problem involving the male dog and not the female.


On occasion, with or without breeding, a female dog can appear to be pregnant outwardly, without any pups present internally. Why this occurs is not well understood, except I can say that the end stage of a normal heat cycle, known as the luteal phase, lingers or fails to terminate as quickly as it should. This causes progesterone levels in the blood to remain high, literally tricking the bitch’s body into believing that puppies are present. When the luteal phase ends, the mother may show maternal behaviors towards toys or other objects or even produce milk.

Clinical signs include maternal behaviors such as mothering toys and nesting, loss of appetite, enlargement of the mammary glands with discharge, to which, on occasion, a mastitis can occur. Normal puppies will not be present. Diagnosis is based on history and physical examination in most cases.

For further information, contact:
Dr. Collin Boyle Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd.
Tel: 456 4981