Training, Breeding and Managing A Stud Dog By Emily Holden, Amaden Wheatens
Let me preface this article by saying that what I know about stud dog management, I learned from Penny Belviso, Marjorie Shoemaker, Gay Dunlap and Dr. Daniel Burnside who studied reproduction at the University of Pennsylvania. I have adapted my technique based on good practices learned from all of these very successful dog people and from supervising several hundred breedings of different dog breeds. I am proud to say that these lessons have served me well.
It is also important to note that the single most important part of good stud dog management is patience, acknowledging that nature is the best judge of WHEN or IF mating should happen. The more breedings that take place without allowing nature to be the guide, the less sure we will be of whether those breedings should take place. There are dogs with low libidos that probably should never be bred, but by taking the reigns from nature, we can't learn enough about the dog and then we continue to breed more dogs with low libidos. In addition to this problem, and probably more to the point, is the fact that there are too many breeders who don't want to get their hands dirty, or are too impatient to let the breeding take place naturally. Shame on them! Other breeders become so involved with their own egos that they breed dogs that are unthrifty. Stud dog owners must know the breed standard and only breed dogs that will stand up to the test.
Stud dog management begins with raising a male pup that is hardy and is self-assured without being spoiled.
- Male puppies should be raised in a secure environment.
- A male puppy that humps people should be discouraged, but a puppy that humps other dogs should simply be removed and given some toys to distract him. "No" should never be used when the pup humps other dogs. Take him to time out and give him another distraction or remove the other dog for a while.
- If a male pup has a severe eating problem, eliminate him from your breeding program. Dogs should want to eat and it is not natural for them to starve themselves. A thinner immature male is not unusual, but not a dog that must be pampered to eat.
- Make sure that your pup gets used to being touched everywhere. NOT MANIPULATED, simply touched so that he is not shocked if you are touching him during the breeding. This is a routine part of alpha dog training, so it should be part of a regular routine. This training develops trust between the human and the dog.
- SCWTCA-recommended testing should be done every six months starting at 1 year of age.
- Active stud dogs normally begin their career at 18 months so beginning testing at 1 year enables the owner to chart the blood and urine to see if any changes have occurred.
- Stud dog owners owe it to their clients to have current results and charting.
- Have a breeding contract in place and be sure that both parties agree to the contract BEFORE the breeding.
- Determine price before the breeding and have it understood that the stud fee is being paid for the service and not for the litter. That is the time-honored way of doing stud dog pricing.
- If you choose to base the price on the results, make sure that your contract clearly indicates your expectations. Also consider charging a handling fee so that your time and energy are somewhat rewarded if there are no pups.
- First time recommendations
- Be very circumspect when accepting bitches for breeding. Set a limit of bitches you will accept for the year and
keep in mind that a better bitch may come next month, so only breed to those that will be the best match for your dog.
Use a mentor, who is respected by many, to help with this decision if you are new to breeding.
- We all breed to some bitches because they are owned by nice people, friends, or they are going to breed to someone's dog, so why not mine. Choose only the best.
- Bitches must have all of the SCWTCA-required testing results as well as a complete vaginal exam.
- While it is the bitch owner's responsibility to make the correct decision regarding her bitch and where to go when breeding, it is the responsibility of the stud dog owner to be sure that the bitch is of breeding quality and healthy. It is not in the best interest of the breed to make decisions based on who owns the dog or rumor. Breeding carefully means hard work and even strong shoulders. Remember that the dog is usually blamed if anything goes wrong, so choose carefully and with as little emotion as is possible.
- Breed to an experienced bitch who enjoys being bred. Wait until one is available rather than rush to breed to a virgin bitch.
- Have agreement with the bitch owner that a breeding may not take place.
- Rushing the dog to the veterinarian to do artificial insemination will only make it more difficult to train your dog. This should never be done with a virgin male.
- The bitch must have a physical exam before she comes to be sure that there is no blockage. It is fine to require that the bitch have progesterone, LH surge levels, and smears done, but there is no better training than taking the bitch to the dog from the moment she starts flagging until a natural breeding is accomplished.
- Be very circumspect when accepting bitches for breeding. Set a limit of bitches you will accept for the year and keep in mind that a better bitch may come next month, so only breed to those that will be the best match for your dog. Use a mentor, who is respected by many, to help with this decision if you are new to breeding.
- Two people are needed to do the breeding. It is not a spectator sport, nor is it a place for a doting mother of the bride. The people should be the owner of the stud dog and another dispassionate person. One person will be responsible for the safety of the bitch, the other the dog.
- The dogs should be allowed to sniff one another and to get to know one another unless the bitch is growling. If this is a first time for the male be sure to act calm and pretend the growling is nothing. The bitch needs to be muzzled if she has not been bred before and/or if she is growling. Lubricating the bitch with K-Y or Vaseline may help make the experience easier on her and may relax her a bit. I sometimes use butter to encourage a virgin dog to take note of the right spot.
- Once it is established that the dog knows he has a job, even if he isn't sure of what that job may be, the bitch needs to be positioned.
- One person needs to hold the bitch's head firmly in place so that she is unable to whip around.
- The other pats the bitch on the back and encourages the male to get into the right position. It must be understood that this may take hours with a first time male. The bitch may have to go home and come back the next day or be crated in another room. The male will position himself over her head and over her sides but with patience and praise he will eventually find the correct position. Sometimes it is good to take the bitch away, and then bring her back and to encourage the dog by telling him to get his girl while patting her on the back.
- The stud dog owner will then place a hand under the side of the bitch and reach to the vulva. Using the index and middle finger, the stud dog owner will make a v (stretching the sides of the vulva open) and, using the strength of his/her forearm, will move the rear of the bitch and the opening of the vulva to make contact with the tip of the dog's penis. Do not try to move his penis to the bitch. He will back off and become shy. Make sure that you move the bitch and manipulate her position, not the dog's.
- Usually the dog will penetrate when he realizes that he has an opening. If he misses the opening and is still humping, calmly move the bitch out of the room and let him cool down before trying again. If he ejaculates outside the bitch put her away and try again the next day.
- Repeat the process until the dog understands his job and there is a tie.
- Bitches frequently become frantic a minute or two after the tie takes place. The person holding the bitch must be very careful not to let her flip over of pull violently on the male. After the bitch is stable it is fine to allow the dogs to stand without control because it is natural for them to move about a bit.
- When the tie is over many breeders hold the bitches rear legs up and pat her rear to continue her contractions, but whether one does that or not, it is important to get her into a crate so that she doesn't urinate immediately. Keep her still for at least a half hour.
- Give the dog a minimum of 36 hours to build up more sperm. Optimum time between breedings is two to three days but always remember the old adage about the back seat of a Chevy. It really only takes once! Some of my biggest litters came from one-time breedings, and the length of the tie means nothing. It is the quality of the semen from a healthy, well-kept male that counts most. Many breeders douche the sheath with a vinegar douche, but again, that is just a suggestion.
A final caveat …
The stud dog is responsible for all of the problems! No, that's not true, but count on hearing it, so be wise and be discriminating when breeding. All bitches are not right for your dog. Be responsible and say no to bitches lacking quality, champion or not, and be responsible by sending bitches that will not be improved by your stud to a better match. Bitch owners appreciate honesty and it does pay off in the long run.