World’s first canine IVF successful

Jennifer Nagashima and Nucharin Songsasen, DVM, PhD, with two puppies born by IVF.

For the first time, a litter of puppies was born by in vitro fertilization (IVF), thanks to work by Cornell researchers.

The breakthrough, described in a study published online Dec. 9 in the journal PLOS|ONE, opens the door for conserving endangered canid species, using gene-editing technologies to eradicate heritable diseases in dogs, and for the study of genetic diseases. 

Nineteen embryos were transferred to the host female dog. She gave birth to seven healthy puppies, two from a beagle mother and a cocker spaniel father, and five from two pairings of beagle fathers and mothers.

The findings have wide implications for wildlife conservation.

“We can freeze and bank sperm, and use it for artificial insemination. We can also freeze oocytes, but in the absence of in vitro fertilization, we couldn’t use them. Now we can use this technique to conserve the genetics of endangered species,” said Alexander J. Travis, VMD, PhD, and associate professor of reproductive biology in the Baker Institute for Animal Health in Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Photo credit: Jeffrey MacMillan

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