What is Involved in Owning a Stud Dog?

2008 Lee Boyd

Life with an intact male dog

First, you have to be willing to leave your male Canaan Dog intact. I have owned both intact dogs and intact bitches. The intact bitches surprised me because their heats were less messy than I expected; Canaan Dogs are by nature so clean. The intact males were not too difficult to live with, as long as no bitches in season are present. If bitches in season are present, intact males are a hassle. The male becomes so intent on mating the bitch that he may whine, howl, fret, and eat poorly for more than a week if thwarted. Intact males are also more likely to urine-mark in the house, and probably slightly more likely to fight or roam than a neutered male. Crate-training an intact male or having a kennel run available helps keep the male away from bitches to whom he is not to be bred. Boarding the male when one of your bitches is in season is also an option. Unless you have a lot of intact bitches, in which case you also probably have a kennel, this nuisance is confined to a few weeks of the year, and therefore not too onerous.

Is he worthy?

There is little reason to leave a male intact if he is not going to be used for breeding, so the first thing you should do is have your male's conformation evaluated to be sure that he is worthy of being bred. This can be accomplished by entering him in dog shows to get the judges' opinions of his merits. However, as Canaan Dogs are still a relatively uncommon breed, many judges will not have an eye for the nuances of proper Canaan Dog structure and temperament. The opinions of a knowledgeable Canaan Dog breeder, or preferably several breeders, are probably more valuable in helping you decide whether your dog is suitable for breeding. These experts can advise you on your dog=s particular merits and faults for consideration in planning compatible matings.

If your dog's conformation and temperament do not disqualify him, the next, almost more important consideration, is health. There are several evaluations that are essential in order that genetic health problems are not proliferated. These are, at a minimum:

1. Hip evaluation via radiographs read by OFA or PennHIP

2. Eye evaluation by CERF.

Screening can also be done to assess elbows, patellas, heart function, and thyroid function.

Before the bitch comes

Yes, the bitch typically comes to the dog, under the somewhat antiquated notion that the male will perform better in familiar surroundings.

The owner of the bitch will contact you to find out more about your male. You should have a contract which both of you sign that stipulates such things as stud fee, what happens if the bitch fails to conceive or only has one puppy, etc. You can obtain sample contracts from other breeders and find out what they typically charge for stud fees. You need to find out about the bitch to make sure she is a good match for your dog; the quality of her puppies will reflect on their sire as well as the dam. Make sure the bitch has the proper health evaluations and is more than a year of age (preferably 18 months or older). Discuss whether she will be driven to you or flown, and when her next heat is predicted. Think about where the bitch will stay while visiting you. You will want to safeguard this animal beloved by someone else.

Once the bitch comes into season and will soon be on her way, both she and the dog should have a simple brucellosis test done by their local veterinarian. Brucellosis is a venereal disease that can result in abortion and sterility. In can also be passed from species to species. For instance humans can get brucellosis, most commonly through drinking unpasteurized milk from infected cattle. So dogs should have a brucellosis check every time they are about to be bred.

When the bitch arrives

It is helpful to have at least two people on hand, one to manage each dog when they are introduced. Canaan Dogs are a very natural breed and should not need much help with the mating process. However if they are not interested in mating initially it can be worrying. If this is the dog=s first breeding experience, are they just naive? Is the bitch just not close to ovulation yet? Is something wrong? The bitch can be taken to a veterinarian for vaginal smears and progesterone testing to determine if she is close to ovulation. As a last resort, semen can be collected by a veterinarian and artificial insemination attempted. These procedures are more costly and your contract should spell out who will pay for them. Keep in mind that for a natural breed like a Canaan Dog, strong mating drive is part of the dog=s worthiness. A dog that has little desire to mate, is structurally unable to copulate, or can't figure out how to accomplish it without help would not pass those traits along in the wild, and that is all to the good for the breed! Each bitch's cycle is a little bit different and often the problem is just that the bitch is not yet physiologically ready. This was the case when I sent my bitch, Keely, to Victor's Gil to be bred. I like to tease Victor a bit with this story. I knew that Keely had a long heat cycle and was attractive to males relatively late in her heat. This was the first natural breeding for both dogs. I flew Keely to Cincinnati where Victor lives. Daily calls ensued, because for at least a week Keely and Gil failed to mate. Victor was more worried than I was, and he finally convinced me to let him have vaginal smears made. They suggested ovulation was almost at hand and by my records I knew we were about at the day in her cycle when Keely became attractive to my neutered mixed breed. With a little holding of Keely and encouragement of Gil, mating was accomplished. However daily calls continued. Now Victor's refrain was the opposite of what it had been before: "Help - they are mating like rabbits! Three times a day if I leave them together! They try to go upstairs and downstairs tied together (Dogs have a coital tie which lasts for 10-30 minutes. If you didn't know that, prepare yourself!). I have to keep them apart most of the time or I can't get anything else done. How quickly can you come pick her up?" Not as quickly as he'd like, as it turned out, because I was driving and school was still in session, so we had to wait until the weekend. And now you know a bit about the early history of Victor's and my friendship.

What ultimately makes your male valuable?

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2008 Israel Canaan Dog Club of America, Inc.