March 2007 marked the birth of an extra special litter of black lab puppies
. What makes them so special? They are adorable, cuddly bundles of joy, AND they are the first puppies to have their genders selected prior to their conception!
XY Inc., an international company in Fort Collins, Colorado, is responsible for this technological advancement. They began in 1996 with a goal of sorting sperm for dairy farmers, thus increasing profit and production for the diary industry. Today they are expanding their sex-selecting technology to all applicable non-human mammals, from cattle to bottle-nosed dolphins!
The process of sorting sperm into x chromosome bearing and y chromosome bearing uses a technology called flow cytometry, first developed in the 1970s. This process uses a laser beam to illuminate, measure, and identify cells as they flow, one by one, in front of a detector. XY Inc. has advanced this technology and applied it to sperm sorting.
The five black lab puppies, three females and two males, were conceived via artificial insemination with sorted sperm. This special arrival was born to Morgan's Chocolate Rose, a dog owned by an XY Inc. lab technician.
Typically the sex-selection of XY Inc. is at least 90% accurate; however, in the case of these puppies it was only 60% accurate in the breeding of a desired all female litter. No one is disappointed though. The conception and birth of these pups is a major milestone for science and breeding technology.
XY Inc. has many interested dog-loving clients. Breeders of seeing-eye dogs, law enforcement dogs, and military dogs are often seeking a particular sex because of their desired temperaments. Sex-selecting technology can greatly improve the efficiency of producing these working canines.