With the advent of the Internet it's really easy to find a stud dog if you're hoping to breed from your bitch. However, finding a great stud dog can be a little harder and can often turn into a stressful affair. Making sure you know exactly what you expect from the breeder and the stud dog, goes a long way to reducing the stress. Below are some tips and advice on how to go about finding and choosing a good stud dog to put your bitch to.
You need to be honest with yourself and be as objective as you can when it comes to assessing your bitch's strong and weak points. You have to know what's important and prioritise which of her traits you consider as good, and which you would like to find in her pups. You have to bear in mind the chances of finding a stud dog that complements you bitch 100% are low – but with this said, it is far better to focus on her weaker traits when looking for a stud dog. However, it's just as important to find a dog that does not share her faults which means, if you can find a stud dog that was a track record of correcting weaknesses in the breed – all the better.
It's really important to do as much research as you can so you learn about any inherited traits you are hoping to change. Should any of your bitch's unwanted traits be inherited, the chances are the stud dog may also have the trait and therefore not be able to correct it. However, if the undesired trait happens to be one she's inherited as a “simple recessive” gene, the stud may be able to correct it but only if he does not share the trait himself, although some of the pups may inherit an unwanted trait if the stud dog is a carrier of the recessive gene.
In order to gauge the risks of a stud dog carrying a recessive gene, you would need to examine the stud dog's ancestry. When it's an unwanted trait inherited polygenically (several traits combined), it would depend on how the stud dog is affected as to the outcome of the pups not inheriting the gene. The best way to check out any “hidden polygenic” genes would be to check out the stud dog's siblings.
Don't be tempted to focus on just one line, when advertising their stud dogs, many handlers can make an average dog sound and look like a top one. It's far better to keep your options open and judge your choice as objectively as you possibly can. A good stud dog should have a great win record as a show dog – so they might be more expensive, but as long as you are sure they will match your bitch and strengthen any weak traits or eliminate them, then you should consider the dog as an option to put her to.
There are online programs you can use to calculate the coefficient of inbreeding (COI) of every proposed pedigree, and some of these programs are free. This is a very good way of estimating how inbred any puppies you breed would actually be, which in turn helps calculate the risk of a recessive allele might be in any of them.
The smaller COI a stud dog has and especially if the percentage is under 10%, the better. If this is the case, you should add the dog to your list of potential studs to put your bitch to. In brief, you stand a much better chance of breeding healthier pups using a dog with lower COIs simply because hereditary health issues are usually inherited recessively.
It's really important to meet a potential stud dog in person and not rely on just seeing online photos of them. Meeting the dog means you get to see what kind of temperament they have too which is extremely important. You don't want to put your bitch to an aggressive dog or one that is maybe a little too shy.
Using a dog that's an extremely popular one, might be tempting. However, if you want to breed more pups in the future, you might find it harder to find a stud dog that boasts a different gene pool.
It's worth using an older dog because they will have reached maturity and any inherited age-related health issues will have manifested themselves whereas in a younger dog, the chances are they have not. The downside to using an older dog is their sperm count may be that much lower though.
If you can, you should choose to take your bitch to a stud that's not too far away from where you live. This makes life a whole lot easier for you and your bitch as well as reducing the cost of all the travelling you may have to do.
You must ask to see the genetic test results of a stud dog you hope to use. Remember, your bitch should have undergone the same tests. You should also ask about the health and life span of the stud dog's siblings and their ancestors. A stud owner who is willing to supply all this information knows the importance of the questions and is therefore a responsible person which should earn them more “brownie” points.
You have to make sure you know the breeding terms offered you. A lot of stud owners ask for a fee or some will ask for a puppy which is usually “second pick”. Your bitch may have to stay at stud, so you need to make sure you know if there will be an extra cost for this. If the stud owner's terms are to take a puppy, you need to know at what age they will be chosen. You also need to know what happens if your bitch does not produce a litter. Remember, both your bitch and the stud dog would have to undergo certain pre-breeding tests and you need to know if there would be any extra charge for these of if they are included in a stud fee.
Obviously finding a good stud dog takes a bit of research and you need to know what your breeding goals are. If you're hoping to produce show dogs, conformation aspects of the dog will be important. However, if you're breeding to produce pets, then temperament will play an important part in your choice of stud dog. The thing to bear in mind is no dog is “perfect” and as such no stud choice is going to be perfect either. The fact you have done as much research as possible improves your chances of producing nice, healthy puppies.