This is a late posting, but here goes.
A few points based on the preceding comments of 3 others. Starting with the posting with link about Clone. I first did quite a bit of reading and research on it a couple of years ago when I first hoped Dusty would be a breeding candidate, which she was not and AI wasn’t a DLV approved option at the time anyway although now it is. Few people know of it or have heard about it. I have brought it up in seminars and conversation and there are also a number of vets who have not heard of it. Surgical insemination seems to be all the rage now. More on that later.
Some background on Clone for those who didn’t follow the link. The use of frozen semen inseminated using the Norwegian Catheter Trans-cervical Insemination technique is 87% successful. In addition to this technique used, CLONE developed its own extender solutions for preparing and preserving the semen as well as for thawing out the semen. These solutions are one of the major factors that make the CLONE system different from all other systems available. With the CLONE method of freezing the motility of the semen is generally over 70% after de-thawing. With other methods the motility rates of de-thawed semen is often about 40 – 50 % and even lower. Research has shown that the fertility rate starts to decline rapidly after the motility of the post-thawed semen decreases below 50 %. Also the semen frozen by CLONE maintains their motility for up to 3 days after de-thawing, in refrigerator temperatures. There are 18 centers in the U.S. and 13 in Europe including one in Dortmund, Germany. For best results, collection at a Clone facility and receipt by another Clone facility is advised. All inseminations are done at Clone facilities. In cases for collection abroad, it might be an added expense and problematic from a logistical standpoint, but may be achievable.
According to published interviews by Dr. Hutchinson with progesterone testing, they can get 83 percent conception rates with frozen semen. According to Dr. Hutchinson the transcervical (TCI) insemination does not replace the surgical insemination as it does not allow for uterine evaluation, but is a significant improvement over the vaginal method of artificial insemination. The TCI is recommended for any type semen, especially frozen and fresh-cooled and can significantly increase conception when poor quality semen and lowered sperm numbers are used. The TCI technique should be used in bitches less than 5 years of age where there is not a reason to suspect uterine changes or uterine disease. The surgical method of artificial insemination is especially useful when breeding "middle age" and older bitches (5years of age and older). The drawback to a transcervical insemination is you don't get a chance to evaluate the uterus – maybe more necessary in older than in but not younger bitches. In a surgical insemination, the uterus is handled and felt for cysts and a determination can made of where to put the semen.
According to Hutchinson Surgical conception rates using frozen semen closely match those of natural mating. So it could be argued that the as close as ovulation and breeding can be predicted with LH / progesterone testing - surgical AI, Transervical Insemination using the Norwegian Catheter method, and natural breeding result in about the same success rate. I would argue that natural cover is preferred (provided breeding pairs are healthy and tested to be disease free), followed by Transervical Insemination using the Norwegian Catheter method in a younger bitch and surgical AI in an older bitch.
I don’t want to burst any bubbles, but typically the older the bitch gets the less eggs she ovulates often resulting in reduced litter size regardless of the method used or sperm quality. Of course there are exceptions to this rule and we always hope for lots of puppies!
I do have a question to ask a reproductive specialist. My understanding is that the sperm is collected, evaluated then frozen and unthawed at the collection point and evaluated again before shipping to the receiving clinic where it is unthawed before depositing into the bitch. Why is it not reevaluated again at that time? Maybe Clone does, I don’t know yet. With every freezing and unthawing sperm degrades and not necessarily by the same percentage each time. So in fact you are inseminating with less motility than projected according the initial collection / freezing report?