What should you be looking for in a stud dog?
I sometimes speak to people who tell me that they want to breed from their dog. “She’s so lovely, such a pretty girl, people often ask if I’m going to have puppies from her.” Or people who have a dog say “I get people who want to use him to have puppies, because he looks so nice”. So what should you do, if you want to get it right?
It’s really challenging. In order to create puppies which are ‘fit for purpose’, we need to match dogs and bitches that both have the correct looks and temperament, with all the relevant health checks in place. Where do we start?
The best place to start is through recommendations of friends. This is where being part of the ‘dog world’ is really helpful. If you show your dog, you will get to know many breeders that way. Most top breeders work hard to promote their dogs. either through showing or competition. If not, you will probably get to know about other breeders through talking to friends with dogs. Look for good examples of the breed and ask the owners what lines they are from. You will soon find that certain breeders crop up again and again.
There is a wealth of information available to us now, so it is easy to just search for ‘border collie breeders’. However, just because someone is popular, doesn’t mean they have nice dogs, or that they will be a good match for your dogs. I recommend looking at Champdogs as a good place to find quality, pedigree dogs. However, far more obvious is the Kennel Club.
Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme
I have put some details about what it means to be an Assured Breeder on this site, but if you want to find out more, go to the KC website itself and look at the Assured Breeders for Border Collie There are currently only 23 of us in the UK! The Kennel Club are doing a great deal to promote and develop the scheme – I am going to a seminar in January – so it will be interesting to see what changes are made to encourage more people to join.
The KC do not list stud dogs on there, so you would have to contact the breeders and ask their advice about appropriate stud dogs, but it is a good place to look, in my opinion.
Line Breeding and In-breeding
I am not an expert in this by any means, but I’ll try to give a quick overview.
Once you have a stud dog in mind, you need to establish how closely related he is to your bitch. A good way to do this is to go to the Border Collie database on Anadune and look up the dog. You can then check any health tests that he has had and make sure that everything that should be done has been done, including hip scores and eye tests.
Then look at his pedigree and see if there is anything on there that is the same as for your girl. You might then decide to use a stud dog with a common grandparent – this is called line breeding. You then know that they will bear similarities to your girl and that their pups will be of a particular ‘type’.
You can put two dogs together who are more closely related than this and many breeders do this. I’ve just found this great summary of inbreeding; A beginners guide to COI which explains it all better than I can. Basically, the more common ancestry the pups have, the more likely you are to breed in health issues. This is particularly worrying for something that cannot be tested for, such as epilepsy. However, if you are confident that there is no epilepsy in a particular line, you might feel that using that line on both sides actually improves the chances of healthy pups.
It is therefore about getting the balance between characteristics you definitely want and increasing variety for better health. It’s complicated, and good judgement is needed.
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