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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19670
Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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My female show dog had normal heats until after her first litter,

Customer Question

My female show dog had normal heats until after her first litter, then they became silent. I have been trying to breed her for a couple of years now and have not had much luck. I am trying to breed her now and her progesterone numbers were over a period of almost three weeks now .6,1.4,1.5,1.5,2.0,2.02,1.6 in that order. A vet recommended giving her cystorelin to get her to ovulate. Is this a good idea? Is this good timing for her to have a cystorelin shot? It will be three weeks since her first progesterone test tomorrow (9/30/11). Her most recent progesterone where she went back down to 1.6 was on Tuesday evening (9/27/11). Can progesterones go up and down before they ovulate or does her going back down to 1.6 mean that she is not going to ovulate?

I am desperate to get this dog pregnant, one of the puppies from her only litter is ranked number 14 in our breed right now! I really hope something works!
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Lisa replied 5 years ago.

Hi Jacustomer-kg96gt89~



What breed is she?

Will you be breeding her naturally or AI?



Customer: replied 5 years ago.
She is a Bernese Mountain Dog. I would like to breed her naturally but I have done AI before and Transcervical to try and get her pregant. This is the first time I have done a lot of progesterone tests. The other times she would be at about a 2.6 and I would stop and assume she ovulated. In May I did a progesterone and she was at a 15 so I do believe she ovulates at some point.
Expert:  Lisa replied 5 years ago.
Have the vets done vaginal cytologies at the time she's being tested?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes they have. They said she looks mostly cornified (might have spelled that wrong) but not 100%. But on previous times when I have tried to breed her they have told me that she looked 100%.
Expert:  Lisa replied 5 years ago.

Thanks for answering all my questions.


I texted a vet that I work with to ask her when she would AI a dog based on progesterone levels. This is her answer "Optimum breeding time is 4-6 days after the progesterone level reaches 2ng/ml."


So it looks like you're just barely missing the time to do AI....of course, you'll have to work with your vet to make sure that you're timing the AI with the cornification of the cells. At the general practice I was in, we would attempt AI if the progesterone levels were in the neighborhood of where they were supposed to be and if the cells were at least 90% cornified.


As for the Cystorelin, I did some looking into it, and the other name it goes by is Fertagyl. I've read good and bad things on it, some people swear by it, and some people have said that it did affect the number of pups in the litter...more specifically, that it decreased the number of pups. There's more information on it here:


There's also a great website that is easy to understand about breeding based on hormones here: . Hopefully between the progesterone levels and the cytologies, you can get her bred.


Good luck...Bernese are amazingly beautiful dogs!!


As and of the other experts on this site pointed me to the possibility of having her tested for the canine herpes virus. It can affect a female and render her infertile, so if she hasn't been tested, it might not be a bad idea. There's a site about it here:

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
My dog has not ovulated because she has not reached a progesterone level of ovulation, instead she has decreased back down to 1.6. I am looking to find out if the drug will help her ovulate and if this is good timing for it or not. Thank you!
Expert:  Lisa replied 5 years ago.

I hadn't stated that you were looking for ways to improve her ovulation, so I obviously didn't address that.


Progesterone levels do fluctuate, just like they do in humans, so the fact that she peaked and now is back down is actually normal. Progesterone levels don't remain elevated for long periods in dogs, which is why it's often hard to get them bred.


Unfortunately, there really aren't any drugs you can try to increase her ovulation. In some humans, they use a drug called Clomid, but I haven't heard about it being used in dogs.


I do understand that you're frustrated and you want to breed your bitch, but the best way to do it is with daily cytology and progesterone testing.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Other.
I am really looking for someone who can answer my original question about the cystorelin and if it will help my female reach higher progesterone numbers and ovulate. She is 3 weeks in and is this good timing?
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 5 years ago.

Hi Sir or Madam,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I've been with Just Answer since 2006. It will be my pleasure to work with you.


I'm going to try and answer your question. Your dog sounds like she may be experiencing persistant proestrus. The following site does discuss using gonadotropin-releasing hormones(Cystorelin) to help bring on ovulation. If you were going to use this, I'd probably have your vet start this soon as it can take a few weeks to show a rise in progesterone. However, as your previous expert pointed out, there are cases where smaller litters have been the result of this treatment when successful. You might also have a higher chance of infections as well with its use. You can read about this on the following site under the heading persistant estrus and persistant proestrus. The site does go over the protocol used.


At the bottom of this page is also a nice flow chart on what testing and procedures you should do to logically find the cause of a dog's failure to breed. It might be helpful to you. I would also suggest that you test her for Brucellosis that can cause early deliver, abortion and miscarriage of puppies late in a pregnancy. I would have your dog tested for this before breeding her again. If she tests positive, you will also want to have the previous stud dog tested to as this is sexually transmitted. You can read more about this condition on the following site.


I hope this helped. If it hasn't, let me know and I'll opt out and leave it open to another expert.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

This is very helpful and your link was very informative as well. I have another question related to this though. She did have a progesterone test come back at a 15 in May. Is it possible for a dog in persistant proestrus to come out of it once in a while and then fall back into it?


Thank you!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I forgot to add that she has been tested for sexually transmitted diseases and came back negative.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 5 years ago.



Yes it is possible for them to come out of persistant proestrus and they can also have a split heat as well which is mentioned on the site I supplied. A progesterone reading of 15 would be the time I would want to AI as she should be very fertile at that reading.


I'm glad she has been tested for the various sexually transmitted diseases. At least that is ruled out and you don't have to worry about that.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Last question related to this. I took her back today and her progesterone was back to a 2.0. So now she has been in for 3 weeks and has gone up and down but never over a 2. What would you suggest I do next to get her to ovulate? Thanks! You have been very helpful.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 5 years ago.



I was thinking of your previous post stating she did have a high progesterone reading in May that might have indicated a more normal heat cycle then. If she was my dog, I'd probably give her a month or two so it would coincide more with the time frame between normal heat cycles and then do a few progesterone tests as a base line and then try Cystorelin with frequent testing of the levels. If you are doing AI, I'd be sure and have your vet perform the procedure. I would try and use fresh semen if at all possible as well.


i would monitor her closely as well afterwards to ensure no infections develop. Since this is an important litter for you, I'd have blood tests run to check pregnancy at around a month and probably have an ultrasound done when she is closer to delivery. I hope this is successful and do understand your wanting to preserve her bloodlines.



Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19670
Experience: Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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