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Connecting Ideas Can Sometimes Change Everything

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242 – April, 2024

By Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia

Several recent experiences occurred causing me to review and change my mind about things that were always considered to be true. It all happened because of three well-known problems that were being included in a new book I was writing. My research uncovered information that was contrary to some of the long-accepted truths that had been told and accepted by breeders in the dog world. These events reminded that when the information you have seems to be overwhelming and convincing, it can still be wrong. And so it was, with each of these topics despite their acceptance by experienced breeders and owners.

The first occurred when I noticed several ads about stud dogs and their ability to produce large litters, the so-called “litter effect”. The second involved puppies that had missing testicles and the third involved breeders that had puppies with elbow dysplasia.

The Litter Effect

My concern began to increase when I noticed the number of advertisements in breed magazines that bragged about a dog’s ability to produce large litters. I wondered if breeders were being misled and whether there was any truth in all of this. My research did not support the claims of the bragging breeders. In fact, there were several studies that showed that most males are fertile and can produce more than enough semen to fertilize all the ova that a bitch might produce. Studies dating back to 1973 on the semen effect of litter size by Lyngest (Whitney, pg.199) which involved 14 breeds and 15 males found only a few sires that produced a sire effect. Another study of 11 German Shepherd males that produced 210 litters showed that average litter size ranged from 5.94 to 8.31 puppies which is average for the breed, disproving a sire effect. Studies about sires and litter size also showed that litter size varied during different temperatures throughout the year. Hot summers had lower semen counts and smaller litters than the cooler fall months of winter which had higher counts and larger litters. My conclusion was that while some breeders want to believe their stud dogs are better at producing large litters, there is no data to prove it.

Undescended Testicles (Monorchidism – Cryptorchidism)

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242 – April, 2024

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