A Guide to Artificial Insemination

This is not designed to replace information provided by a Vet. It is an overview of the AI and birthing process. We recommend you educated yourself with information in books, the Internet and consultation with a medical professional. We are not a Vet and we assume no responsibility for your animals by using any information provided here. Enjoy!

Information Includes:

  • How to time AI with progesterone tests
  • How to collect and ship
  • How to know labor is imminent
  • The c-section operation
  • Whelping and care of puppies
  • Tube and bottling feeding
  • How to remove dew claws
  • Diagnosing puppy problems
  • How to find what color genes your dog carries
  • Emergencies and medications
  • Oxygen Concentrators can save lives

Successful AI is based on three primary factors

  1. With fresh chilled semen you have one or two shots so timing is critical. The semen needs to be inseminated as close to 2 days after ovulation to maximize litter size. (You can order a second shipment for $150)
  2. You need the best quality semen to maximize success. Semen has to be collected correctly from a quality stud. Handled properly, Chilled slowly and packaged so it arrives quickly at the optimum time for your Dam to be inseminated successfully. That our job.
  3. The chilled semen needs to be handled and inseminated correctly in to the Dam

Get these three steps correct and you will achieve a better than 80% success rate, about the same if Mother Nature did it herself. Get any step wrong and then you can expect a small or failed litter. So here are the details:

Step 1: Timing Breeding

Most Dames show outward signs at the beginning of heat. Typical signs in order are: Humping other dogs; Males pestering and sniffing their vulva; Swelling of the Vulva; bloody discharge; and flagging where the Dam will swing her rear end towards Males. Bloody discharge that changes to a straw color and she allows males to mount. (later stages of heat)

But these are only makers of the various stages of heat. To be successful with AI you must pin point the actual day of Ovulation. After Ovulation the egg needs two days to mature. This is the optimum time for AI, and will result in the largest litters. Most but not all dogs are breed day 9-12 of their heat cycle. But timing the AI based just on the number of days in heat, the color of the blood, the Dams response to males or Vaginal Cytology may not produce reliable or large litters.

How to Pin Point Ovulation: Progesterone Tests

A progesterone test can indicate the day of ovulation. You can take your girl to a Vet or order a kit and do the test at home. We do the first Progesterone test after about 6 days of bloody discharge. If the discharge turns to straw color sooner we perform the first progesterone immediately. The first test indicates approximately how close she is to ovulation. Based on this we perform one or two more tests to pin point the day of ovulation. The eggs then needs two days to mature before they can be fertilized. This gives plenty of time to ship chilled semen to you.

If you go to a vet for the test ask if you will get results the same day. Many vets use outside labs and then you will wait a day and that can cause problems especially if you go in on a Friday and don’t get results until Monday!! Vets charge from $40 to $180 for each test, but you can do it yourself for about $10 a test and get the results in 10 minutes! It does requires drawing a small amount of blood. You can have your vet do it for you or look at the video, it is not difficult. We order online, the Target Canine Insemination Kit. It shows qualitative levels of Progesterone. We have used this test on all of our Dams for many years. It is cheap, you get the results quickly and it lets you control the whole process. Exodus breeders sells a 6 test kit for $80 or the 12 test kit for $120 plus about $14 for 2nd day UPS shipping. Order Monday-Wednesday. Don’t order on Thursday or Friday , it takes an additional weekend to arrive and may get too hot.

Less successful techniques are:

  • Keeping track of previous breeding with this Dam and based on previous matings, her behavior and discharge can help determine ovulation.
  • Vaginal Cytology. A vaginal smear, stained and examined under a microscope can indicate the stages of heat. The stained cells look like fried eggs in the early stages of heat and change to corn flake shaped cells with out nuclei when the Dam has ovulated (100% cornification). I have used this technique for years but have better results with progesterone tests.
  • The behavior of your Dam and other males provide and approximate indication of ovulation. This should be your last resort.

Step 2: Ordering Semen, Collection, and Transport

That’s our job; we have a line of Studs who are proven producers. We can help with which Stud would best suit your Dam. Coat color and male proportion and size all play a factor in the quality and look of your litter. We time collection from our Studs to make sure they have had a sufficient rest period since their last collection. We time collection to literally the hour, so we can prepare, evaluate and package the semen so that it is ready for pickup late in the afternoon for  FedEx orUPS overnight delivery. They comes to us; this way we minimize travel time. In most cases the semen is in you hands less than 17 hours after collection. So call or email and let us know your approximate AI day so we can plan accordingly. We have designed (patent pending) a digital Semen shipping system, Ship-Mate. Semen is gradually chilled to 38F (5c) and then maintained at exactly that temperature for the duration of the trip. Our shipping box has made a huge impact in the success of our service. It has taken four years of testing, prototypes and software design to get were we are today. The old style passive shipping boxes that everyone else uses are unreliable. Getting quality semen to our customers was hit and miss. Now we are successful every single time. We have a record of over 1150 consecutive shipments with out a single semen failure and counting.

Keep us up to date on your progesterone tests. We must reserve your choice of stud so he is ready and able to produce quality semen. The latest we can reliably ship is 3PM CST. We might be able to get on UPS later but the more lee way the better. We can ship Monday through Friday for next day delivery on Tuesday through Saturday. UPS can deliver on Saturday but does not pickup shipments on the weekend. We can also ship Greyhound but the results are hit and miss so we only choose Greyhound if we must deliver on Sunday and the greyhound schedule is favorable. The post office is also a possibility but only as a last resort.

Our guarantee is unique to the industry. Most stud owners want the whole fee upfront, and offer no guarantee or maybe a second try at best. We believe that success is measured in litters anything short is unacceptable. We work very hard to make this a reality. We charge half the Stud fee when we ship plus $150 for the overnight shipping costs. If you want a second shipment you pay just the additional $150 shipping expense. The other half of the stud fee is due after you girls whelps.

Once you have paid us half a stud fee, that credit goes towards a future litter. Most customers (about 85% have a litter the first time) but if you are not successful then the 50% stud fee you paid is used on any future breeding. Repeat customers only pay shipping costs on any mating. Then the entire stud fee is due after whelp. That is a 100% guarantee. And you don’t pay until after you have puppies and sales in sight! Why do we do this? Because we have this down. Our patent pending box makes all the difference. It is really very simple, we are not successful unless you are too.

Having a well proportioned stud is one thing. Knowing how to collect, prepare and ship semen that arrived the next day in great condition is entirely another. Trust me we have learnt over many, many years. Ask questions if the stud owner ships occasionally, if not there is a reason. We typically ship semen every week day, some times to five different customer the same day. I think we probably ship more French Bulldog semen than anyone else in the USA!! And with that experience and dedication comes success.

Step 3: Artificial Insemination

You can take your dog to most Vets and they can perform AI at their office. But it is very easy and you can do it yourself at home. There is a wealth of information on the Net that demonstrate the technique. I really believe that most dog owners can potentially do a better job performing the AI at home versus paying the vet. Here is the argument.

At the Vet your Dam the whole insemination might take 5 minutes. The Vet is busy and other customers are in the waiting room needing his attention. Your pouch is in a stressful environment with sick dogs near bye and it is inconvenient and costs $. And worse of all the semen is likely to leak back out.

In contrast at home you can do the AI when you are ready. Now you can take your time and perform the AI in a relaxed atmosphere your dog is comfortable with. Take your time and keep the dog elevated for 30 minutes or more. The semen doesn’t leak out, she wasn’t exposed to sick dogs and your wallet is a little fatter.  Finally if the semen arrives later in the day (UPS can arrive late on occasion) youare not in a panic becuase the Vets office is closed.

Ask for an AI kit we will include one at no charge.

Get your Dam in tip top condition, Up to date with shot, worming etc and not over weight. Do not give any medications to a pregnant dog with out consulting your Vet first.

Before you start the AI procedure. Walk the Dam for a few minutes and have her urinate if she needs to.

Move the Dam to quiet place with out other dogs around, preferably with a dog crate or pen so she can remain there in comfort for at least an hour after the insemination

Remove the semen from the shipping container. You do not need to warm it before you AI. If you have a microscope evaluate the semen for quantity, percentage that is moving well and shape.

Have a helper hold the dam in a standing position. Some dogs will be agitated the first time you AI. Take your time and re-assure her.

Clean her vulva with a swab.

Use a suitable length sterile insemination tube (about 8”) connected to a new 5cc or larger syringe, draw up the semen into the syringe along with a 1cc or 2cc of air. (let us know if you need a rod and syringe, we will include one at no extra charge)

Glove your hand and lubricate your fore finger. Insert the finger in to the vulva and then pass the insemination tube into the vulva past the finger. The technique is to angle the tube inside the Vulva up towards the anus first (to miss the Urethra where urine comes from) and then more horizontally to the cervix. You will not be able to pass through the cervix into the Uterus, (this requires a professional using and Endoscope) Be gentle and do not force the progress of the tube. But make sure it goes in far enough at least 3-4 inches, further for larger Dams. This may take a few attempts of partially removing the tube and wiggling your finger to get past any folds in the vaginal tract. If you meet resistance or the Dam is obviously very uncomfortable, backup and start again. No hurry here.

Slowly push the plunger using the trapped air in the syringe to completely transfer all the semen to the Dam. If you can not push the plunger, back up the tube a fraction, you may have the tip blocked by the cervix. Remove the tube but not your finger. Stimulate the ceiling of the vulva for a few minutes. The Dam’s Vulva will clamp rhythmically on your finger helping the semen to pass through the cervix into the Uterus. Hoist the dams rump 8-12” in the air to use gravity to move the semen towards the cervix. Do not press on her stomach.

Keep her elevated and quiet for another 20 or 30 minutes then place her in a crate to rest and be quiet for an hour. DO NOT let her outside or to urinate. Record the AI date so you predict whelp accurately.

Pre-Natal Care Scheduling the C-section

Keep her exercised and in tip top shape, feed quality food and no drugs with out Vet supervision. We with hold worming and heart worm medications on pregnant dogs.

Vitamins and Folic acid are a good idea

Mark you calendar  63 days from ovulation  (65 days from LH peak)

Or if you timed it right 61 days from AI

Be careful some  whelping calendars use 63 days, but this is typically a day or two late

Pay attention to your Dam at least a week prior to whelping

Almost all Frenchies  (85%) are delivered by C-Section. Natural birth is very risky and not recommended with out prior history and a Vet on stand bye. Things can go wrong in a hurry resulting in still birth and even loss of the Dam!

X-ray, blood tests, Ultra sounds, progesterone tests and palpation are all techniques to help schedule the correct day for a C-section. Have a plan of action in place at least a week before the anticipated birth. What are you going to do if it is a weekend or after 5 pm and you need a C-section? Plan ahead. Be careful about simply scheduling a C-Section months ahead based on the AI date. Watch for signs of whelp and C-Section when the puppies are actually due.

Signs that Whelp is soon

We keep the pregnant Dam close by for the last few days of the pregnancy so we can time the c-section correctly. She sleeps outside our bedroom so we can hear any changes. We take the Dams rectal temperature at least daily for the week prior to whelp and every few hours, two days from anticipated whelp. Her temp will drop from about 101 to less than 99, Whelp will usually happen with in 24 hrs. You may miss the temp drop and a few Dams will have temperature fluctuations that are hard to interpret, but if we see a drop to 99 verified by two reading 10 minutes apart or less we schedule the Vet visit for that day. We with hold food if we know that C-section is going to be with in 24 hours. Dogs with full stomachs can vomit under anesthetic and inhale the vomitus.

Early C-section (by even a couple of days) will result in newborns with out developed lungs that will die quickly. Too late and the Dam has contractions and puppies can be stuck in the birth canal. You may loose both her and the puppies. Timing is critical. I often see dog owners who schedule the C-section weeks ahead, based on the AI date. But this is unreliable, even with careful testing to time the AI, because gestation (time from ovulation to Whelp) varies by a few days between dogs. This can result in early or late C-Sections. The preferred method is to time the office visit based on signs that labor will be in 24 hours or less.

Reverse Progesterone a reliable way to schedule a C-Section

We still time our C-Sections partly based on rectal temperature drop and behavior. But The best and reliable way is reverse progesterone. We use the same Target ovulation test we used to time the AI. The bitches progesterone stays elevated during the entire pregnancy and drops to a low level a couple of days before whelp. And drops to a 1ng/mL 24 hrs from whelp. This is a strong blue on the Target test. Now we can safely time our C-Sections. Avoid costly emergency after hours office visits. And the potential disaster of waking up to find our Frenchie had puppies while we slept and is in trouble.

Signs of whelp in the order they normally appear.

  1. Dam’s teats start to enlarge, she develops a milk line and you can express milk. This stage frequently occurs after whelp, especially for new mothers.
  2. Her vulva enlarges and becomes rubbery.
  3. Her mucus plug is discharged. A clear jelly like substance on her Vulva. (this can happen days before whelp) and is not a reliable indication of how close whelp is.
  4. Most dogs will refuse food the day of whelp
  5. Her rectal temp drops below 99F (her Progesterone will drop to a level of 1 or less)
  6. She starts nesting, tearing up newspaper and bedding. She is generally restless
  7. Her Cervix dilates and can be check with a gloved lubricated finger
  8. She starts panting, she may stop panting for a minute and stare at her rump.
  9. She starts to have contractions and stares at her rump
  10. Her water breaks
  11. Her Vulva starts to bulge as a puppy passes in to the birth canal

Steps 4-7 should be followed a trip to the vet and subsequent examination and C-Section.

Steps 8-11 Don’t waste any time she is in labor! Get to your vet now.

Emergency C-Section Situations

Hopefully you can monitor your Dam and schedule the C-section but there are situations that require an immediate C-Section. If you see a green discharge this is placenta fluid and means the placenta has partially or completely separated. Every puppy is connected to a placenta through the umbilical cord. With out an intact placenta the puppy will die and must be delivered immediately. If you see any green discharge go to your Vet immediately.

The C-Section Operation

A puppy being born or a bulging sack from the Vulva are also reasons to head to you Vet now.

The Dam is weighed so the correct amount of Anesthetic is administered.

The Dam is examined, typically for general health, digital examination of cervix and rectal temp

An IV is setup

The Dam is given drugs to put her under.

An intubation tube is placed in her throat. So anesthesia can be administered

She is connected to a ventilator to control breathing and the level of anesthesia

Her belly is shaved and sterilized.

An incision made and the horns of the uterus exposed.

Puppies are removed one by one from the horns, the umbilical cord clamped or tied and then cut

You (if you ask to participate) and other helpers start clearing the puppy’s lungs of fluids. Check for cleft palates and keep the puppies warm. New born C-section puppies are pretty lifeless for the first 2-8 minutes. This can be scary, especially the first time you experience it. Puppies are rubbed and backs thumped to remove fluid from their lungs and get the lungs going. Sometimes non responding puppies are given shots and Oxygen to help stimulate breathing and heart rate.

The Dams Uterus is closed, abdominal cavity flushed and closed.

The Dam is brought out of Anesthesia and watched on the table for ten minutes or so to make sure she is OK. She may be given an antibiotic shot and  Oxytocin to start contractions to clear fluid form the uterus and start milk let down.

The puppies will now be checked and maybe put on a teat if Mother is sufficiently awake.

Before you leave make sure all puppies are breathing regularly and have pink noses and tongues. If they are gasping or look blue, do not leave the Vets office.

Spaying your female

When is it time to spay? That a discussion to have with your Vet. But if her uterus is very thin in places or she has lots of adhesions then maybe its time for a spay. Or if she has had a rough or difficult pregnancy or behave badly towards her pups it may be time to call it quits. But what ever you do,  DONOT spay at the same time as the C-section. It puts too much load on your girl and it can end very badly. Wait for a month or two and do it when she is back to regular health. Do not try to save a few dollars and combine both procedures.

Free Whelp?

85% of all Frenchies are born cesarean. All of our puppies are born this way. But some are born free whelped. Could your girl free whelp? We do not recommend it. You can loose puppies and your girl! But if you go this route get prepared.

  1. Not for smaller sub 22# Girls Or Dogs that have already had a C-section
  2. X-ray at one week out and see how big the pups are. and how many pups will be born. A bigger litter of smaller pups are a better candidate than a small litter with big pups. A  large puppy in the litter can ruin your day.
  3. Have a Vet on stand bye. What happens if you need help after hours or the weekend?
  4. Stay with your girl thru the entire Labor. Make sure you are there when it starts, no going to work!
  5. Have your Puppy whelping kit organized before labor starts

Time to go to the vet if:

  • Contractions have started but no puppies are born with in three hours or it has been more three hours since the last puppy was born.
  • Water has broken and no puppy is born with in a hour.
  • Puppy is partially present but is stuck.
  • Your girl is in obvious distress.

The Trip Home

Keep the puppies warm on the way home. Have a small box with heated blankets. Long trips of an hour or more require a heating pad you can plug into the cars cigarette lighter. Place the pad under the puppies but do not cook them! (Turn the pad on 10 minutes before you leave the Vet.  We manufacture a portable Incubator . It can be used with house hold 110 volt or your cars cigarette lighter (12 Volt) See the Incubator it here

Put the Dam in a crate by herself, she is too groggy to pay attention to the puppies until you get home.

Post Natal Care

Your Dam will be groggy and sore for a few hours. When we get home we let the Dam (under supervision) walk and pee.

We used to we put her in a crate outside our bedroom with a heating blanket under half of the crate floor. We introduce the puppies to her and put them on a teat. If she groggy she might roll on a puppy, so watch and make sure she is attentive. New Mothers can be confused at first, but they always seem to rise to the occasion and except responsibility.

Now all our litters are raised in out (patent pending) whelping box. It has a heater under the pigrail. Mum is not overheated and puppies are kept warm just under the rail. The safest place for them to be. We have kits to fit most crates and whelping boxes. Check it out here

Most of the time everything goes smoothly, puppies are weaned and all is well, but things can go wrong in a hurry and early detection is key to averting disaster.


Problems fall into four categories

  1. Internal congenital problems, a puppy dies with in hours or a few days of birth and mother may neglect them before you realize a problem is developing.
  2. A Puppy is small and weak and is not getting enough nourishment or warmth.
  3. The mother’s milk is weak or non existent.
  4. The entire litter catches a bug, parasite or virus.

Get a kitchen scale with a 0-4LB range. A thermometer and the scale are the most useful tools do not skip this step! We weigh and chart every puppy’s weight daily. Puppies will loose a little weight in the first 24 hours. But after that they will gain weight, typically 1/2 OZ (15g)or more every day. Any weight loss after day one needs to be taken very seriously. The key to success is early diagnosis and treatment. Puppies have very little reserves and a puppy in trouble can die in hours. If the whole litter is loosing weight, then the litter has a parasite/virus or the mother’s milk is failing. Go to your Vet immediately.

If a single puppy is loosing weight, check he doesn’t have a cleft pallet. Put him on a nipple and see if he nurses, Check to make sure the puppy is not cold. New born are unable to regulate their body temperature for about 10 days and drafts and a cold room can make a puppy drop fast. If the puppy is lethargic and not nursing then visit the Vet.

We also check mother daily. Express milk from every teat, check the C-Section stitches and check her temp is around 101-102F. Milk fever (low calcium) and Mastitis from a blocked nipple are real threats that are easily cured but untreated can be death to the Dam and the entire litter!

The best environment is a warm crate with attentive care, check the mother and puppies every few hours. Dams must have good quality food and additives such as Goats’ milk and cottage cheese to help Dams calcium uptake. If you hear quiet puppies and suckling noises and they are gaining weight daily, then you are doing a good job. Continually crying or lethargic puppy or a restless Mother are the sure signs of a problem.

Get a Whelping kit together

Get this done days before you need it. You don’t have time to collect these items post fact

We will have complete whelping kits and whelping boxes available by Spring 2018.

This list also includes items that you would need if you are caught short and your girl has puppies at home.

  • Cheap digital thermometer to track mothers pre-labor temp. Also an indispensible diagnostic tool.
  • Pet Tabs or Generic Vitamin Tabs
  • Goats Milk (we like Meyenburg the 12oz can of Powered Goats Milk, easy and fast to mix just what you need)
  • Cottage Cheese to supplement mothers food and provide extra calcium
  • Regular Human Baby feeding bottle, 0-3 month silicone tip
  • #5 French Tube and Syringe for fast stomach feeding
  • Scissors, dental Floss and Alcohol to cut, clean and tie off Umbilical cords
  • Clean Towels
  • Vaseline, Very helpful to release a stuck puppy in the birth canal
  • 0-4 lb scale to weigh puppies daily
  • Small pet nails clippers. Pups nails need trimming every few days or they will scratch and irritate mothers teats
  • Hand lotion to massage on mothers tenders teats
  • A well designed whelping box Go Here to see The Best whelping box available
  • An incubator. See the one I manufacture and sell
  • If you dont invest in an Incubator use aHeating Pad. Make sure it does not shut off automatically after a few hours.

The Joys of a Litter

A healthy litter and Dam don’t just happen. It takes work and planning. Make sure you have the time to do the job. If you are a Mother then you already know the commitment and the joy. I still get excited with the whole miracle of life. If you need help, I can’t guarantee we will have the right answers but we will always try. Call, If you are in trouble and need advice, even if it is the wee hours of the morning we will answer the phone. James: 580-799-2873.

More on Puppy Care here.

How to find what color genes your dog carries

There are three testing companies in the USA that can for a fee determine your Frenchies coat color genetics. I like Animal Genetics in Florida: www.animalgenetics.us

For $130 they will provide a complete coat color profile. It is easy and fast. Simply send a drop or two of blood on a Q-Tip and get results emailed to you in about a week. Or if you remove dew claws send them off. You can send for free check swaps but it will delay the process waiting for the kit.

They will test for:

  • A Locus – Ay (Sable/Fawn)  A Locus (recessive black) – At (Tricolor/Tan Points)
  • B Locus – b (Chocolate/Red) You can not test for Chocolate in Frenchies* see below
  • D Locus – d (Dilute Blue/Lilac)
  • E Locus – e (Black/Yellow)
  • EM Locus – Em (Mask)
  • K Locus – KB (Dominant Black)
  • S Locus – S (Piedbald)

Every animal has two genes for each and every trait, like eye color, hair color etc.

Each offspring gets one copy form each parent to make up their DNA profile.

Many coat color traits in Frenchies require two copies (one form each parent) to express the Gene.

Here is an example of the Blue or Dilute Gene:

  • The blue gene is recessive and to be be blue it has to have two copies one from each parent dd
  • The possible combinations are: DD Dd dD dd
  • DD Is a dog with no blue gene
  • Dd and dD are both  blue carriers, both can produce a blue dogs but their coat is not blue
  • dd is a blue dog, all of spring will get a copy of blue (d) from this parent

How to Tell a Chocolate Frenchie

All true chocolate Frenchies eyes glow red in a low light video.

Below is a video of four litter mates. Three are lilacs and one blue. Lilacs are both blue and chocolate dogs.

So their are eyes glow red, but the blue does not.

This test will not work for Frenchies that are just chocolate carriers.

Oxygen Concentrators Can Save a Puppy

Mine did 10 days after I purchased it!

If you have a puppy gasping for breath then you have an emergency situation that probably will not be resolved with out oxygen. Puppies with blocked airways or Pneumonia need immediate help. And if you hunt they can be purchased cheap.

I bought a used one from a Pawn shop. I’ve seen them on Ebay and Craigslist (don’t but the cheap Chinese ones they don’t concentrate much oxygen maybe 40%). Used ones range from $150 to $800.


Heat Stroke

I lost an older Frenchie to heat stroke many years ago. Had a similar situation just the other day and we saved this frenchie. So I want to share this with you.

This girl had traveled in a car for four hours to come to us to be breed. She suffered from car sickness a bit. She was a strictly an indoor dog, she seemed fine when she arrived. She stretched her legs, had a walk and a bathroom break. We AI-ed her and all seemed ok. Her owner came with her mother. Who took the Frenchie and sat in an air conditioned car with her on her lap But twenty minutes later she was having a hard time breathing, she was gasping and her tongue was turning blue! Took her rectal temp, it was over 105F°!

We immediately got a garden hose and soaked her down for a few minutes, then squirted a syringe of 7up in her mouth. We had heard that this can help with reducing throat / esophagus swelling. (maybe old wives tale). And we immediately gave her oxygen. It took a bit, but after 30 minutes she was breathing normally, her tongue was pink and her temp 101. I’m convinced if we had just tried cooling her down with room AC she might not have survived. She had 9 beautiful frenchies two months later!

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