The prebreeding examination should include a test for brucellosis, a highly infectious disease that attacks cattle, goats, hogs, some wild animals and dogs. It causes abortion, resorption, stillbirths and sterility.
Once the organism enters a breeder’s kennel it rapidly attacks both dogs and bitches and renders the entire population impotent.
More and more stud owners are wisely insisting that they receive veterinarian certification that a bitch is examined a week or two before breeding, and is shown free from brucellosis infection.
Owners of bitches should also receive certification that the stud dog has been monitored at regular six-month intervals. Males can remain infectious, shedding the organisms in their urine or ejaculate for much longer periods than bitches. Bitches are infectious only while in season or following abortion.
Dogs may be infected by inhaling, ingesting brucella organisms or in mating. Those infected orally may develop enlarged lymph nodes in their throat area, while those infected vaginally may develop the enlarged nodes in the groin. As the disease progresses, the testicles in the male may become atrophied and edema of the scrotum results. The dog, because of painful testicles will, at best, be reluctant to breed, and will eventually become sterile. Some bitches fail to conceive or early fetal death follows conception. These are usually undetected except for bloody or greenish discharge, which may or may not be due to the presence of brucella organisms in the uterus. It is generally assumed that the bitch “missed” or the dog failed to impregnate the bitch. Other bitches may abort at the end of approximately 50 days gestation, or give birth to stillborn or weak puppies.
To date there is no cure for brucellosis. It is a self-limiting disease and can “burn itself out” in a kennel over a period of two or three years. The population is usually attacked during its most productive years and while it runs its course the dogs must still be fed and cared for. All breeding ceases.
Castrating all infected dogs and spaying all infected bitches can probably interrupt transmission of the brucella, but most breeders remove infected animals from their kennels by euthanasia.