General Information

I Want to Stand my Dog at Stud

By Doris Engbertson


The following article, written by Doris Engberton of Godiva Labradors, speaks of the Labrador Retriever breed. However, the information within the article pertains to all breeds. If you are considering using your dog as a stud, this is a must read!

“Dear Godiva.. I want to stand my dog at stud can you help me?”

I recently received an email from a family who was seeking advice on turning their family pet into a stud dog. Because I care so much for our breed, I spent the time to put together the following answer. After I received numerous requests for copies of my post I decided to include it here in hopes that it will help others see just what goes into making such an important decision.

Thank you for your post. I hope you don’t mind the long answer that follows. I just want you to be aware of what you are considering undertaking. As far as picking mates for my girls, I spend many hours and days going over pedigrees, going to shows, looking at dogs and corresponding with others in the breed to finally make my choice. Any dog that I breed to must have proven himself either in the ring or in the field as my goal (and that of any true breeder) is to produce the absolute best dogs I can.

Whether you are breeding a dog or a bitch there is a lot of responsibility involved. I actually think that there is more placed on a stud owner than on the owner of the bitch. It is a well-known joke that if ANYTHING goes wrong the fault is always that of the stud dog. Even though this is often said in jest it is a fact that the stud does receive most of the blame when a problem arises. He may or may not be at fault but the whispers still abound as to his liability.

After I had been in dogs long enough to feel that I was knowledgeable enough to attempt breeding, I had to decide if I was going do males or females as I do not have the facilities that would allow me to do both. After considering all of the options I chose the girls. Why? The responsibility and knowledge needed to be an ethical stud owner was far more than I was able to commit to at that time. I decided that I would leave that end of breeding to the experts and rely on their input when it came time for breeding.

Here are some things that anyone who is thinking of taking this step has to consider:

What is the dog’s pedigree?
This MUST ALWAYS be taken into consideration when breeding. Nightmares can and do happen when dogs are bred without checking out the history. Are the lines compatible? Will they double up on faults that could lead to severe problems on down the road? This becomes even more important when breeding chocolates because the genetics are trickier than with the other colors. I believe that when breeding chocolates you really want to stay away from having yellow in the lines. Yes, there are dogs out there that do have yellows but you are courting disaster if you are not very careful. You need to know if both your dog and any dog that you are breeding to could have yellow heritage and if so how far back. Ideally, a chocolate to chocolate breeding should not be done for more than 2 generations. Every other or every third breeding should be to a black that carries chocolate (called a Bc). You need to know the pedigrees involved so that you can advise the bitch owner as to the proper course to take.

How old is the dog?
No dog, either male or female should be bred prior to the age of 2 years.

Has he been OFA’d, Penn-Hipped or Wind Morganed for Hips and elbows?
No dog should ever be bred without these clearances. You mentioned that your dog’s joints and hips have been certified and I can’t tell you how glad I am to hear that. You did not mention whether they were OFA’d, Penn-Hipped or Wind Morganed or what joints you had done and what the ratings were. These are all very important. Did you have elbows done? What about shoulders and hocks? Are you forceful enough to insist that any bitch coming onto your property has the same clearances? Remember if anything shows up, the fault will probably be placed on your dog regardless of actual liability.

Speaking of liability, we live in a sue happy society and it is not uncommon for law suits to be filed over health problems in dogs. Even if your dog is clear but the bitch he is bred to is not, you can both end up looking at a very expensive lawsuit. What do you know about the other puppies in your dog’s litter? Just because your dog is certified free of CHD, etc, if there are a number of pups from his litter than do have problems, then the chances of your passing them on to subsequent generations is increased dramatically.

Has he been CERF’d as well as being cleared of PRA through one of the current DNA tests?
No dog should be bred without having yearly eye exams by an ACVO licensed vet. You mentioned that he has not had his eyes done so this is something that you would have to have taken care of if you decide to go ahead with any breeding. Once again lawsuits can be filed if a dog develops PRA or other eye disorders. Has he been checked for entropion or ectropion? Again you need to be able to enforce the rules with the bitch owners who come to your dog.

While we are talking about health problems, what about brucellosis? TVD? (tricuspid valve dysplasia, a heart problem that is starting to crop up and is thought to be hereditary) Thyroid? All of these need to be checked out and some of the tests are not cheap.

Has he been evaluated by someone familiar with labs and found to be of breeding quality?
The only ethical reason for breeding is to improve the breed. You undoubtedly have a wonderful dog but that does not mean that his offspring will be like him. What does he have to offer that other dogs that have been tested in the ring and field do not? Almost all Labs have wonderful temperaments so that cannot be a deciding factor. I can throw out the names of a lot of dogs that have Championships, field titles, etc. that I could breed a bitch to and they ALL have wonderful temperaments. There has to be something more.

Do you know your dog’s conformation well enough to be able to tell just how your dog’s qualities can hopefully improve on those of the bitch? Does he have a strong rear or front that will compensate a bitch that is weaker in those areas? Does he have a good layback of shoulder, a nice “double thigh” or the proper tail set. If you are breeding to improve the breed you will need to know all of these things.

Do you know how to tell a BYB (back yard breeder) from someone who is breeding for the good of the breed? (see for a description of the various types of breeders). Remember that not all bitches should be bred and you will need to be strong enough to deny service to someone who does not have the interest of the breed at heart. There is a tremendous pet over population problem in this Country and unfortunately there are a lot of Labradors who are ending up in rescues and shelters as well as being destroyed each year. Even the worst bitch breeder can only produce somewhere around 20 pups per year from a single bitch if they were to breed her twice a year and had 10 pups per litter. A stud Dog can produce hundreds!!!

Do have the knowledge to answer the bitch owner’s questions? They will come to you for the answers to many questions and they WILL expect knowledgeable answers. Believe me, they will call you at all hours of the day or night, any day of the week.

Do you have the contacts to pass on qualified puppy referrals for all of the pups you help produce? Once again this is part of a stud owner’s responsibility.

Do you know how to safely breed a dog and bitch in order to prevent injury to one or both of the dogs? Once again lawsuits can and do occur when dogs are injured during breeding. You cannot just turn the dogs loose in a pen or the backyard and “let nature take it course”, this is asking for nothing but trouble. Bitches often live up to the derogatory connotations of the word. They can turn on a dog and severely injure him and even themselves. Do you want that responsibility?

Do you know how to tell the optimum time to breed? A bitch’s season is approximately 1 month in length but there are only a few days when she is ready to receive the male, will you be able to tell when that is?

Other things to consider:

Are you willing to give up your vacations and free time to be available whenever a bitch is ready to be bred? When they are ready, it is now, not next week. If you are boarding the bitch do you have a secure area that she won’t be able to escape from or the neighbor’s German Shepherd won’t be able to get in to or near? Dogs have been known to breed through chain link fences, so they cannot be considered totally safe.

Do you have the finances to refund the stud fee when the bitch does not conceive or does not produce any viable pups?

Are you willing to lose some of the things that make your dog such a great pet? When used for breeding, dogs will take on different characteristics. Marking of furniture and walls, roaming and jumping the fence, mounting objects and people, some dogs become more aggressive. Also, once a young dog’s fancy turns to sex it can be very hard to refocus his attention. Many males will not eat if there is a female in season near by. Some bark and carry on for hours driving every one near by out of their minds.

Are you willing to take the chance of your dog developing testicular and prostate cancer? Cancer is the number one killer of dogs by a wide margin.

Is keeping your dog in tact so he can produce a few pups that important? A friend of mine had a wonderful Rottweiler, she did not have him neutered so that she could stand him at stud occasionally. She kept thinking about taking him to the vet and having “the deed” done put never quite got around to it. One day she noticed a lump. The biopsy was positive for cancer; he was gone within a month.

Since you are in Los Angeles City here is something else to think about. The city is going to change its licensing structure. The proposal that they are seriously considering calls for a $500 annual license for all intact dogs. This may be harsh but it looks as if it may soon be true.

I know that this is long but I feel that if you are going to go into the breeding business,(all it takes is 1 litter and you are “in the business”) then you should have an idea as to what it is all about. Here is another web site for you to check out if you are interested:

Please let me know if I can supply you with any more information or help in anyway.


© 1998 Doris Engbertson

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