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Managing Your Stud Dog

You may also find this 1945 historic article by Will Judy interesting.

written and submitted by Judy Doniere, Toledobes, USA

Many people think that owning a stud dog is something that doesn’t require any knowledge and that you can make some easy money.  Well think again. First of all, for the sake of this article, we’ll say you have a beautiful Champion that has a great pedigree and all your friends are telling you they want to breed to him. What do you do first?


  1. Your dog should be in excellent health and condition.  You should get his hips and elbows x-rayed.  They should then be sent to OFA for evaluation and if it’s either Excellent or Good, that’s fine.  Fair is a gray area and I’d only breed a fair to either an Excellent or a Good.
  2. Next should be a complete Thyroid panel.  Having your Vet send it to Michigan State University is the best as they have a different rating for Dobermans than other Labs seem to.
  3. A Holter Monitor should be done at least once a year until age 5 (unless this is a very popular stud and then I’d suggest every 6 mo.)  After age 5, every 6 mo.  This shows early Arrhythmias which is a precursor to Cardio in most cases.  You should also get a Cardiac Ultra-sound annually until age 5 and then twice a year.  EKG’s and Chest X-rays should also be done at this time. Cardio is one of the many defects in the Doberman and there are very few that are not affected or carriers.
  4. You should also have a vWD test done by DNA method.
  5. A blood work-up should also be done once a year to check kidneys & Liver and enzymes etc.
  6. Eyes should be checked for PRA and CERF-ed for other eye problems.
  7.  A Prostate check should be done annually or more if the dog is used often.

These are some of the main things to have done BEFORE offering your dog at public stud.

Most, if not all of these tests should be insisted upon for the prospective visiting bitch as well.  Cardio checks, vWD, OFA, Thyroid for sure.

Now for the good part:

You have a bitch owner call you the DAY she comes in season (starts bleeding).  For myself, I like the bitches to come in early to my stud.  Usually by 9 days.  I will try them at that time.  If this is a virgin stud dog, he may get excited, sniff, drool and try to mount.  The bitch should always be muzzled at least at the first meeting.  Some bitches do ovulate early.  With my last breeding, my bitch was successfully bred on her 9th and 11th days.  By the 13th day she wanted no part of him and he wasn’t that interested.  We had 8 puppies.

Your inexperienced male may try mounting the head, side or maybe even the rear but he doesn’t seem to be able to make the connection.  My advice?  Try them for no more than 10-15 min.  Take the bitch away.  She’s not ready.  Try twice a day for no more than that.  Do it each day.  Believe me, if she is ready and flagging he will make the connection in the right place and you will have a tie.  Always have one person hold the muzzle and collar of the bitch so she won’t try and snap at him.  The other person is to handle the stud dog.  Also have on hand two seats for you both to sit on once they’re tied.

For those who are new to breeding, a tie is when the male pumps and then swells up inside the vulva of the bitch.  They cannot come apart.  Once the male stops pumping, gently take his front legs off the bitch and drop them to the floor.  Take the hind leg and help pull over the bank of the bitch so that this leg is on the ground as well.  Now they are butt to butt.  Take a 6 foot leather leash and hook the ends together, circle under them and pull it up on top so it forms a handle for you to hold keeping them snug together.  Many times they will try walking or pulling away from each other.

A normal tie will last anywhere from five minutes to an hour.  Around twenty minutes is the norm.

Once they are parted, immediately put the bitch in a crate with a clean blanket or towel inside as she will leak some.   The male can either go outside or out of the room.  He is done for now.  Keep the bitch crated for almost an hour before she goes outside to urinate.

The average bitch usually ovulates for 48 hrs.  The male sperm lasts for approximately 72 hours but when you figure a bitch stays in season for about 3 weeks, timing is essential to get the bitch bred on the right days.  I’d say the average optimum days would be 13-15 days but I’ve had bitches whelp big litters when bred on the 8th day and one bitch as late as the 29th and 32nd day.  Her daughter whelped after being bred on her 19th and 21st days so you can’t rely on averages when it’s your bitch.

Many people use the Progesterone testing the Vets want to use.  I have mixed emotions on these.  On some virgin studs they aren’t interested in the days when the tests say they should be bred, so you have to let the stud decide.  Virgin studs will breed when the bitch is ready.  Some may take days and days but if the bitch is there early and she gets to know the stud, they may play and he may make attempts but won’t tie.  He will when she’s ovulating.  You don’t really need to guide him to the right spot.  Even when the sizes are varied between them.  He’ll get the job done.  Too many bitch owners get frustrated and want to try Artificial Insemination to get the job done.  Most times it doesn’t work because she’s not ovulating.

OK, we’ve talked about handling your stud dog, but how about handling the other stuff?

You should be prepared to have the bitch owners coming over for days, maybe a week or more.  If you put them up at your home, it’s even more hectic for you.  Cooking meals, going out to restaurants, etc. as well as making time to do the breeding, having them get upset if your male doesn’t cooperate on the “right” day, etc.

You may have bitches sent in to you so you must pick them up at the airport which may take hours waiting for her depending on the flight and the airport. Making many phone calls daily to the bitch owner.  Have a room to keep a visiting bitch.  Listening to your male cry day and night (some don’t) and generally upset your whole routine. Returning her to the Airport and waiting for the flight to take off, then calling the owner to tell them she’s on her way home.

You should furnish a good show photo and pedigree of your dog as well as copies of all the recent health testing.

You should also keep in touch with the breeder to know when the puppies are whelped and insist on a list of the new puppy owners names, addresses and phone numbers.  I also like to keep in touch with the new buyers as well.

The bitch may miss anyway so you should always provide a return service.

I hope this helps you on your first time breeding.  One thing I always tell people is that every accidental mating produces puppies, so leaving mother nature to do it’s work is the best.  You should always be there but let the dogs decide when it’s time to breed.  Whenever I’ve done this on my own dogs/bitches, I’ve never had a miss and I’ve been doing it for over 50 years.