By Amy Dorsch
Health test your dog
Stud dogs can impact the breed even more than bitches due to their ability to sire multiple litters. The cost of most health tests can be recouped in one stud fee and allows for a more informed choice of mates. Tests can include: OFA/PennHip (hips), MDR1, CEA/PRA (eyes) and Brucellosis (an infectious bacterial disease that affects reproduction in both males and females).
Evaluate your dog’s traits and working ability
ESC’s working trait evaluation is one tool that can help determine the strengths and weaknesses of your dog. Outside assessment can also be useful. If your dog is involved in activities such as agility, obedience, SAR etc…assessments in those venues are also valuable.
Be prepared to host the breeding bitch and her owner
With a typical mating window of 1-3 days, you should be prepared to clear your schedule and spend time supervising the dogs and visiting in rain or shine. A bitch and her owner may have traveled some distance to get to you and will need a home base of some sort. Help with that is most appreciated. This can range from local hotel and restaurant recommendations to opening up your home. Travel can also leave the bitch out of sorts. She may need some time to acclimate. Some dogs get right down to business. Others need a period of courtship.
Decide whether you will board a bitch
Some stud owners will board the bitch for a week. This entails more work and care must be taken to treat the visiting bitch well in order to minimize stress. Comfortable, safe, secure containment and strict supervision is a must. Boarding costs are in addition to stud fees and should reflect your time.
Expect the unexpected
Sometimes a natural breeding just doesn’t work. Be prepared with an alternative plan, such as AI, if the bitch owner so desires. Having a good working relationship with a vet able to do AI (both collection and insemination) and letting them know this may be a possibility may allow them to keep an open schedule for you.
Be a support
Whelping/raising a litter and placing pups is a lot of work. The bitch owner may appreciate support especially in the area of puppy evaluation/placements. If you are interested in being an active part of the process, let the bitch owner know. Staying in communication with the new owners as their pups grow will give you a better idea of what your dog is contributing to the breed and can inform future breeding decisions.