Nothing strengthens the judgment and quickens the conscience like individual responsibility.
~Elizabeth Cady Stanton
So You Wanna Use Your Boxer At Stud, Eh?
Don't miss the companion piece, "So You Wanna Breed Your Boxer Bitch, Eh?"
A stud dog owner has a tremendous responsibility, not only to their dog but to the breed as a whole. Stud dogs can have a much larger impact - positive or negative - on the breed, as they are able to sire exponentially more puppies than a bitch can whelp. Before you make the decision to use your dog at stud, there are some questions you should ask yourself. This is not, by any means, an all-inclusive list!
The most important question, of course, is why do you want to breed your dog? Is your dog a good representative of the breed? Does he meet the standard in conformation *and temperament?* Does he have qualities that will benefit the breed if passed along, and are they stronger than the qualities that will not benefit the breed? Has he been evaluated by at least three objective, knowledgeable, unrelated persons to determine this? If not, how can you be sure he is correct in these areas? Are you able to objectively evaluate the bitches before they are brought to your dog, to determine if his faults will offset hers or add to hers? People buy purebred dogs because they like certain physical and emotional traits - if you breed dogs that are not correct for these traits, you will end up with puppies who are not correct for these traits.
Book - World of the Boxer by Rick Tomita
Book - The Complete Boxer by Tim Hutchings
Book - Boxer Blueprint by Daniel Buchwald
Book - "The Boxer" by John Wagner (out of print)
Video - The Boxer - AKC
Book - Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type by Richard Beauchamp
Has he been fully health tested? This means hip x-rays for dysplasia (PennHip, or OFA after 2 years of age), auscultation by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist after 24 months of age (and Doppler echocardiogram if so indicated - however the American Boxer Club recommends Doppler for all breeding prospects), at least one 24-hour Holter monitor performed after 12 months of age and then repeated yearly, blood test for thyroid function sent to one of the eight OFA-approved labs after 1 year of age, repeated yearly until age 4 then every other year, and a blood test for brucellosis before every breeding. CERF eye tests and blood test for vWD may also be performed depending on lines.
Do you know the history of the parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc? Do you know their age and cause of death? Most Boxer diseases are not of straightforward inheritance, which means that clear parents can still produce affected offspring, so family history is an important part of any breeding decision.
Book - Genetics: An Introduction for Dog Breeders by Jackie Isabell
Book - Future Dog: Breeding for Genetic Soundness by Patricia Wilkie
Book - Control of Canine Genetic Diseases by George A. Padgett, DVM
Book - Breeding Better Dogs by Carmen Battaglia
What health testing will you require of the bitch? (Hips, hearts, and thyroid were discussed earlier. Brucellosis should be mandatory for any bitch, done within 30 days of breeding. Some stud owners also ask for CERF, vWD, and a deep culture.) Your stud dog will need to be tested for brucellosis within 30 days prior to every breeding, as well. What if the bitch needs medical attention while she is at your house? Who pays for it? How many times will you breed the bitch? What if the bitch will not allow the dog to breed her? Will you do an AI? Who will pay for it?
What guarantees will you provide? What constitutes a "litter"? What happens if the bitch doesn't take? What will you do in the event of white puppies? Will you sign a litter registration for them? What if the bitch owner wants to euthanize them? How involved will you be in the selection of puppy buyers? Will you request information from the bitch owner, so that you know where your puppies end up? Will you require that the bitch owner gives you second right of refusal if any puppies cannot be kept, at any time in their lives? Will you require that the puppies are health tested, so that you know if your stud is producing health problems even though he may not have evidence of them himself? The answers to these questions will become most of your stud service contract.
Most litters are considered to be one or more colored puppies that survive past 7 days of age. If the breeding doesn't take, generally either the stud fee is returned or a repeat breeding is given to the same bitch or sometimes a different bitch. White puppies cannot be given full registration by breeders following the ABC Code of Ethics, so if you choose to become a CoE breeder you need to state in your stud contract that the breeder will not provide full registration to any white puppies.
You'll also need to think about stud fee - which will vary greatly depending on your answers to the above questions, and on your dog's titles (if any). An unproven, conformation/performance pointed dog's stud fee is generally half the price of a pet puppy. As the dog is proven and finishes a title and has offspring that become pointed or titled, the stud fee goes up until it is roughly three-fourths to the full price of a pet puppy. Producers of Merit may go above that, although most stud owners don't go much higher as it becomes cost-prohibitive for the bitch owner. Boarding fees, or transportation fees if you're a long way from the airport, might also be something you'll need to consider. These will also go into the contract - *everything* should be spelled out in writing and agreed to by both parties before the mating is performed.
Are you able and willing to take on the responsibility of being a stud dog owner? Have you ever witnessed a breeding before? Do you have an experienced person to help you? It is not always as easy as putting a dog and bitch in the same room and "letting Nature take its course." Not all bitches like to be bred, especially maiden bitches, and they can get very aggressive. Many a bitch has to be muzzled and restrained in order for a successful breeding to occur (and this sometimes leads to questions of temperament in a non-maiden bitch). Dogs have been killed, or nearly so, by bitches who did not want to be bred. If a tie occurs, you still need to be on hand - sometimes the stud needs help turning, or the bitch wants to lie down but the stud doesn't, and the stud dog can get damaged in the process (or the tie can get broken). Do you know how to break a tie if it goes on for too long (generally any longer than 2 hours)?
Do you have the facilities to house bitches - perhaps more than one at a time - that come to be bred to your dog? Typically the bitch travels to the stud dog. Are you prepared for your stud dog to go off his food, howl, moan, attempt to get to the bitches, etc.? Dogs have chewed through doors and gone over and under fences to get to a bitch in season, and ties have occured through fences, gates, and crates. Are you able to ensure beyond the shadow of a doubt that no other dog can get to them for the week or two that they are at my house? If not, do you have the resources set aside for DNA testing of the bitch, the studs, and all of the puppies, as well as the extra fees AKC charges for Multiple Sires above and beyond regular litter registration fees?
Book - Book of the Bitch by Evans & White
Book - The Whelping and Rearing of Puppies by Muriel Lee
Book - Born to Win: Breed to Succeed by Patricia Craige Trotter
Book - Successful Dog Breeding by Walkowicz & Wilcox
Do you know how to care for a bitch during pregnancy? Do you know what happens during whelping? Do you know how to care for newly-whelped puppies? While you are the stud dog owner, you may also become a source of help and information to the bitch owner. If you don't know how to deal with pregnancy, whelping, and puppy care, do you have an experienced mentor to whom you can refer the bitch owner?
Also visit the AKC Breeder Education pages at http://www.akc.org/breeders/ and our Links page for more resources on these and other topics.