Stud Dog Management
- Almost every dog breeding program in the world keeps at
least one male dog in residence for breeding purposes.
Some will be popular stud dogs, some not.
If a dog is offered at public stud the owner must be prepared to deal
with stud dog management, keeping in-season bitches and the intricacies of
successful matings. The
days of putting a dog with a bitch and letting them do their own thing are
long past. The practice isn’t
safe, usually isn’t effective and is certainly not the correct way to
handle a breeding.
a Puppy to be a Stud Dog
- Although this may sound frivolous, you really do need
to “teach” a male how to be a stud dog.
Start when they are about 12-16 weeks by letting the baby run with
older intact bitches. The bitches will almost always put the baby in his place.
The baby needs to learn to take social signals from the bitch.
When it comes time for breeding, the bitch will usually signal her
readiness. If she is not ready,
she may become aggressive and possibly hurt the male if he continues to try
to force himself on her. By
running them together when the male is young, he will be taught by the
bitches what is acceptable behavior, and what is not.
- Second of all, NEVER correct a young male for mounting
a bitch. Either separate the
two, or allow the bitch to correct the boy herself.
Given the opportunity a bitch will almost always take care of
herself. If she has been
corrected for being aggressive (such as when she is on lead), encourage her
to take action, but do not yell at the boy.
- The age of first breeding for males varies from owner
to owner. Males are
usually physically capable of producing puppies by 8-9 months.
Many owners like to wait until the male is older, more mature, and
has had all his health screenings.
- A younger male can sometimes present a challenge to
breed because their ridiculous enthusiasm combined with a lack of
concentration can make a natural breeding almost impossible.
The bitches also tend to lose patience with an over-eager male who
doesn’t know what he is doing. In these cases, an artificial breeding might be needed to get
the job done and keep the young male safe.
- If you intend to have your male perform natural
breedings, you will have to spend time with him in the beginning helping him
perform. If natural breedings
aren’t important, or you wish to do only artificial breedings for health
or safety reasons, you also need to work with the male to teach him how to
- First time breedings are best with experienced bitches.
Try to avoid maiden bitches (although sometimes this just isn’t
possible), aggressive bitches or bitches who have had past reproductive
problems. If you are going to
attempt a natural breeding, make sure the bitch has stood for a natural
breeding before, or is at least even-tempered enough to allow misbehavior
from an inexperienced stud dog. If
this will be an artificial breeding, make sure the bitch is properly
restrained and is no danger to the stud dog.
of the Bitch
- One of the most
challenging parts of keeping a stud dog is having to take responsibility for
someone else’s bitch – keeping them safe, healthy, happy, and ultimately
sending them home pregnant. Most
of these bitches will be kept in conditions different from yours, which can
cause stress and make a successful breeding more difficult.
The key is to make the bitch feel at home, providing her with a happy
and relaxed atmosphere and keeping stress to a minimum.
Try to move her to your house as early in her season as possible.
- Questions for the bitch owner:
- How is the bitch kept at your house?
Crated, housedog, kenneled, or a combination.
- How many times a day does she eat and what does she
- How many times a day is she exercised?
Is she walked on leash?
- Is she used to children?
Other dogs? Other
household animals? Common
- How often does she come in season?
- How many times has she been bred?
- How many litters has she produced?
- Was she bred naturally or artificially?
- Has she ever been ovulation timed?
Is so, please provide details.
- After the bitch owner has answered all your questions,
you have to determine the best way to make the bitch at home in your
situation. If she is a
housedog, you might have to change your living arrangements to bring her
into the house, at least for a portion of the day. If she is crated, provide a crate for her that is safe and
comfortable. If she is kenneled
and you don’t have a kennel, ask the bitch owner what they think is a
reasonable alternative for her at your house.
Most importantly, make sure the bitch is securely segregated from ALL
intact males until you are ready to do the breeding.
- Some experienced stud dogs will tell you when a bitch
is ready. He will only mount
her when he believes she is ready and he will pay close attention to her
signals. The majority of the
time you aren’t going to be anywhere near that lucky!
If the stud dog or bitch are inexperienced, YOU are going to have to
determine when is the proper time for breeding.
- Introduce the dog and bitch a few times before the
breeding is to take place. Allow the two to interact – flirt, chase and mock-breed (if
the bitch allows it). Watch the
bitch’s behavior, and if you need to, make notes about how she is acting
with the dog. In the beginning
she will play-bow and allow him to sniff her behind.
She may progress to allowing him to mount her, and eventually
(hopefully) she will stand and flag. Also
watch your dog’s behavior. In
the beginning he will chase and court her by standing on tip-toes and
placing his head over her shoulders. (The
males are wicked-cute when they are courting a bitch!)
Soon he will want to mount her -- first in play, and then more
seriously as she stands and allows him.
Watch for signs of aggression from either of them.
Sometimes the bitch will get cranking right before she becomes fully
ready. Occasionally the dog
will try to bully a bitch into submission before she is ready to stand.
Separate the two and try again later.
- If you want to be more precise, you may use diagnostic
testing to determine the bitch’s readiness to breed.
Progesterone testing, LH surge testing and/or vaginal smears may be
helpful. If you use these
tests, put the dogs together when it is determined to be the best time for
the bitch. If a natural
breeding isn’t possible, make sure you know the window of time for optimal
breeding and get an artificial breeding done.
- Semen can live in the bitch between 3-5 days, or
longer. Breedings are usually
performed every other day until the bitch is no longer receptive, or it is
determined by testing that she is no longer fertile.
It takes between 48-72 hours for a dog’s body to produce more
viable semen, so performing breedings more often than this is usually only
for practice and does not help ensure conception.
- A natural breeding performed at a time when both the
bitch and dog are ready is your best chance of a successful conception.
However, at least with most Cardigans, this doesn’t happen often.
- When a bitch is standing and flagging, or when it is
determined by testing that she is ready, introduce the dog and bitch in a
controlled manner (small room, or on lead).
Allow the two to flirt and play for a few minutes to get them
comfortable with each other. Have
one person restrain the bitch in a way that she is comfortable with.
I often lay the bitch across my lap, and this seems to be a
comfortable position and good height for both the dog and bitch.
Encourage the dog to mount and breed the bitch.
Pat her on the rear quarters and tell the dog he is a “good boy”
when he mounts her.
- If he doesn’t seem to be achieving penetration, try
to adjust the bitch by lowering her rump, or raising her off the ground with
telephone books or a stack of towels. If
this doesn’t work, try to adjust her vulva from underneath and see if you
can help the stud dog make contact. Again,
if this doesn’t work, try manipulating the male to help him penetrate.
This operation will take two people!
Don’t try to do it yourself. The
dog’s penis has a bone in it, and when you help the two dogs connect, it
can often surprise and startle the bitch.
It can harm the male to have a bitch flinch or jump at this time.
- After the dog has penetrated the bitch, he will start
long thrusts meant to help him achieve a tie.
You might want to help him stay mounted on the bitch (believe it or
not, they sometimes fall off) by holding his rump up against the bitch.
Try not to distract him while you are helping him.
After the tie has been achieved, the dog will stop thrusting and will
either remain on top of the bitch or will turn around backwards so the two
are butt-to-butt. Try to make
the couple as comfortable as possible.
Help the dog turn around, or lay them down in their current position.
Ties can last upwards to an hour with twenty minutes being average.
- Artificial Insemination Breedings
breedings are relatively easy and can be done at home.
Most stud dogs are easy to collect, and after learning proper
insemination techniques, it is comfortable for the bitch.
- If a natural breeding cannot be achieved or isn’t
desired, try to determine the best time to breed the bitch by the behavior
indicators mentioned above or by ovulation timing.
Get all your equipment together before putting the dogs together.
I use a latex sheath with a test tube attached for the collection
part of the breeding. Other
acceptable equipment is a plastic baggie, Dixie cup or 60cc syringe cover.
- Put the dog and bitch together and encourage the dog to
mount the bitch and attempt to breed her.
Have someone restrain the bitch.
When the dog is ready a bulb will form at the base of his penis close
to his body. Reach underneath
and push his prepuce (sheath) back to expose his penis and hold him behind
the bulb. Allow him to thrust
like he would for a natural breeding. Place the semen receptacle at the bottom of his penis, or
place the latex sheath over his entire penis.
The ejaculation produces three fractions of fluid – the clear
pre-seminal fluid, the semen, and the prostate, or post-seminal fluid.
Production of semen occurs during the long thrusts towards the
beginning of the collection. If using a clear receptacle you can see that the semen
fraction of the ejaculation is milky-colored.
It is only necessary to collect the first two fluid fractions,
although it doesn’t hurt to allow the third fraction to be collected and
inseminated. When the
collection is complete, make sure the dog’s penis is totally retracted and
that the prepuce isn’t rolled or pinched before putting the dog away.
- The insemination of the bitch is best performed with a
rigid plastic pipette or a flexible plastic tube.
I prefer the pipette because it doesn’t bend back on itself when
placed in the bitch. Use a syringe attached to the pipette or tube and draw the
semen GENTLY into the syringe. Make
sure you do not draw any air through the semen as this may damage the
collection. After the
collection is in the syringe, turn the syringe upright and draw another 5
cc’s of air into the syringe. The
air helps move the semen further into the bitch when performing the
insemination. You may want to
lubricate the pipette or tube with a small amount of KY jelly or other
- The bitch’s vulva is lower than her vagina.
For this reason you will want to straighten the path of the pipette
or tube by placing a finger into the bitch’s vagina and pulling the vulva
up and into line with the vagina. Run
the pipette or tube along one side of your finger and as far into the bitch
as you can go. Do not force the pipette or tube to go any further than it
will as you can puncture the vagina. Raise
the bitch’s rear end so it is above the level of her head and slowly push
the ejaculate then air into her vagina.
Slowly pull the pipette or tube out and lower the bitch back into a
standing position. Place a
lubricated finger into her vulva and gently stroke the top or side wall of
the vagina until you feel her abdomen contract.
This is called feathering and it helps move the semen up and towards
her cervix and simulates a natural breeding.
90 percent of forward movement of the semen is caused by the bitch.
Continue feathering for about 5-7 minutes.
After an artificial breeding I like to place the bitch in a quiet
place and not let her outside to urinate or exercise for at least two hours.
- Important Note:
Most veterinarians suggest elevating the bitch during the feathering
stage of the insemination. For
Cardigans I do not like to place the bitch in a position that will cause her
spine to be vertical for any length of time.
This is for her back health, and I have personally not seen any
difference in the conception rate using the standing position.
for Fresh-Chilled or Frozen Semen
collection method for fresh-chilled or frozen semen is identical to a live
artificial (with both dog and bitch present) with just a couple of
exceptions. First of all, a
bitch may not be present and the stud may not want to perform without her.
Teaching a dog to perform without a bitch is difficult and some just
won’t ever do it. Being able
to secure a teaser bitch, or the use of an artificial pheromone is often
helpful. As a last resort, the
stud dog can be injected with a safe, short-acting hormone to achieve a
only the first and second fractions of the collection are used.
And lastly, the dog may be asked to perform more than one collection
in order to have enough semen to ship or store.
- Important Note:
At this time, AKC rules required all fresh-chilled or frozen
collections and inseminations to be performed or witnessed by a
collecting for fresh-chilled or frozen semen a semen evaluation should
always be performed. It may
also be helpful to do routine evaluations on dogs who are bred exclusively
using artificial insemination, or if conception rates are low.
Semen is normally evaluated for one or all of the following:
total number, volume, motility, speed, direction, PH, and percentage
of primary and secondary semen defects.
Some vets will leave the semen on a warmed slide to see how long it
lives, but this is not always needed. The
dog should be rated as excellent, good, fair or poor, or actual numbers
should be provided. If the semen is not of good quality it may not be useful to
store for frozen semen, but the use of PH buffers and semen enhancers might
help boost the quality of the semen for use in fresh-chilled breedings.
Check with your veterinarian to see what services they can provide in
Strides In Using Old Stud Dogs
- My old stud dog began having trouble with his prostrate
when he was 7 years old. This caused him to have bladder infections.
In the beginning, we believed it was just chronic urinary infections,
possibly from his food. But when a vet found his prostate gland enlarged and dipping
down into his abdomen, we began a different treatment meant to preserve his
fertility. (This was after
arguing with one vet for twenty minutes about my conviction that unless his
life was in danger, he was not going to be neutered.)
These treatments included rounds of antibiotics combined with herbal
supplements. They were
successful and helped give him a couple extra years of reproductive health.
- When he turned 9, the first few bitches he bred that
year got pregnant and carried normal sized litters.
Towards the end of the year bitches began to miss.
I took him in for a semen evaluation to a local reproductive expert.
His semen quality was good, but the quantity was low.
The sperm was also “lazy” – moving slowly or not at all.
Semen enhancing solution was added to the sperm and this seemed to
help. Because of the
combination of low volume and low motility, it was suggested that any
bitches bred to him be either surgically inseminated or transcervically
inseminated. Both methods
placed the semen into the bitch’s uterus giving them the best chance of
- In 1999 10 bitches were bred to my stud dog, who was 10
at the time. Three were mine, 7
were outside bitches. 8 were live transcervical breedings where both dog and bitch
were present; and the other 2 were fresh chilled shipments and the bitches
were surgically inseminated. Each
bitch was also ovulation timed. 9
bitches were timed with progesterone assay tests and 1 bitch was LH surge
tested. The LH surge bitch is
the only one all year that missed. The
litters ranged in size from 1 to 10, 7 being the average.
During this year I learned a lot about ovulation timing, evaluating
semen quality, semen enhancers and what the inside of a bitch’s vaginal
- Transcervical inseminations are fascinating.
The procedure was new (it is becoming more accepted and common now)
and only taught in a few places. My
vet spent a week in Sweden learning how to do it.
After the dog is collected the semen is evaluated for quantity and
quality. The collection is then
spun in a centrifuge and the semen is concentrated to between 1-2 ccs. The uterus of a bitch before pregnancy is very small and only
about 1-2 cc’s of semen can be inserted.
After the semen is evaluated, it can be treated with semen enhancers
or PH buffers.
- An endoscope is placed in the bitch’s vaginal so the
vet can visually locate the opening of the cervix.
Since the cervix in a dog is horseshoe-shaped with the opening
towards the top of the vagina, locating it and threading an insemination
tube through it is very complicated. The
flexible tube is inserted into the endoscope and is threaded into the
cervix. At this point, if the
tube doesn’t go into the cervix easily, ultrasound is used to visualize
the shape and direction of curve of the cervix.
As strange as it sounds, not one bitch was even sedated for these
procedures. Some got to stand
naturally on the table, but some had to be elevated, turned, and/or twisted
to get that tube into their uterus. Not one objected to be poked, prodded and eventually
inseminated. I was very
impressed. And the conception
rate was also impressive. I’m
hoping more vets become familiar with this new method of insemination, as it
seems to solve a variety of conception problems.
- Everyone has their favorite aspects of breeding and
showing dogs. I find stud dog
management to be my least favorite. The responsibility of keeping outside bitches, timing
breedings, and then performing them can sometimes be inconvenient, and often
- I live in a busy house where everyone has to be settled
down for bed before the stud dog and bitch are comfortable enough to breed.
The numbers of times I’ve done breedings in the witching hours of
midnight to 1AM are incalculable. I’ve
done breedings on Christmas day, Easter, on my kids’ birthdays after
having parties. I’ve done
breedings in hotel rooms at specialties, in handler’s trucks and
friend’s houses. I’ve bred my dogs, friends’ dogs, enemies’ dogs – the
stories are endless. I’ve
spent so much time at my vets getting tests and breedings done I felt like I
should just set up a cot and move in. Having
a popular stud dog is a big pain in the a** and a tremendous time drain.
- All that being said, the reward isn’t monetary, but
in taking pride in my dog’s progeny.
Watching the breed move forward because of some of my puny efforts is
well worth the time and energy I’ve expended.
And because there are others out there who feel the same way I do,
the breed will continue to grow and improve.
That makes it all worth it.
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