A female beagle wanted to have a puppy but she couldn’t, so she went to her veterinarian and asked whether there’s such a thing as fertility treatments for dogs. Yes there is!
The first statement is false, of course, but the second one isn’t — in vitro fertilization has finally been done on a dog. Researchers at Cornell University in New York State and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. recently announced the first litter (pictured below) of IVF puppies.
This is a major breakthrough. Although dogs have been cloned successfully for the past ten years, scientists have been trying since the 1970s to do canine IVF, but up to now it hasn’t worked. This is partly due to the fact that a dog’s reproductive cycle is different from most mammals. For one thing, female dogs only ovulate once or twice a year, and their eggs tend to be less viable.
This new technique opens the door to detecting genetic traits that cause disease and fixing them preemptively, according to the lead scientists involved in the project, Alex Travis and Jennifer Nagashima. Moreover, it could eventually be used to help breed endangered species in captivity, such as the African painted dog. (below)
Bill Rogers is a Toronto-based lawyer, journalist, and family law mediator.