What you should know about using your Lancashire Heeler at stud
- Article by Jacky Cutler
You may have been asked or thought about allowing your dog to be used at stud, but are not sure how to go about it. Often breeders are looking for dogs of different bloodlines or with specific breed points such as size, colour or ear/tail carriage to help to increase the very small gene pool we have in Heelers. They should have a good knowledge of your dog’s pedigree as well as that of their bitch, to ensure that the lines will complement each other. If you have a dog that is a reasonably good representative of the breed standard, is entire (has all his ‘bits’!), and has a very good temperament, then he may be a useful addition to the breed as a stud dog. The breeder of your dog should be contacted for their opinion as to whether he should be offered at stud, and they may even wish to use him themselves or recommend him to other breeders. He would need to be Kennel Club registered, with no endorsement on his registration to prevent puppies being registered, and to have had the relevant health tests carried out. DNA testing for PLL (unless clear by parentage), plus an up to date eye test certificate are the minimum requirements. Some breeders might require a DNA test for CEA as well, and details of this can be found on the Health pages, as can details of Patella Luxation testing.
At this stage I would just like to point out that using your dog at stud is not going to make you a fortune – in fact the first mating is often given for free just to ‘prove’ the dog is capable of producing puppies. It used to be that the stud fee was the price of a puppy at the going rate, but these days with the price of pedigree dogs having escalated this is rarely the case now. A rough estimate would be around £200 - £300 depending on the pedigree of the dog, and of course any success in the show ring could add to the value. Should a mating take place but no puppies be produced, then it is customary to allow a ‘free return’ to the dog. Some people charge a set fee plus an amount per live puppy born, say £100 stud fee and £50 per puppy, so a litter of five would be £350, and some people would want a puppy from the litter or even the price of a puppy once sold. Some breeders would expect not to pay until after the litter was born, whereas some stud dog owners insist on the money up front at the time of mating. It would be as well to have the arrangements written down in a form of contract before the mating takes place, so everyone knows where they stand.
Although most breeders would expect to bring their bitch to your dog, you could be required to take the dog to the bitch if your circumstances don’t allow for this. You could be asked to let him stay over for a few days to ensure he became used to the bitch and was confident enough to mate her. Some breeders could even ask for you to take their bitch for a while if you had the facilities to care for her. A secure environment is necessary, as both dogs and bitches can be very determined if a bitch is in season in close proximity, and many unplanned matings have taken place even in the best run kennels or homes. Some breeders would require the dog to be checked by a vet before the mating and in some cases swabbed to ensure he is not carrying any infection. You could also insist that the bitch is checked before allowing her near your dog.
The actual mating process is not as straightforward as you might think, and it can take hours or even days to get a successful mating depending on whether the bitch is ‘ready’ at the appropriate time. Most breeders would have a good idea of when this is, but there are methods available to check when the bitch is ready to be mated, so you might get an urgent phone call requesting that your dog is standing by as the time is right! There is plenty of information out there on the actual mating process, so I won’t go into too many details here. Hopefully the breeder will have some idea but their bitch may not want to co-operate and if she is being rather aggressive to the dog you may wish to insist she is muzzled so as to prevent any injuries. If after getting to know each other, usually by letting them run loose together for a while, the dog does try to mount the bitch to mate her she should be steadied by the collar so she cannot pull away from him. If they do mate and ‘tie’, the dog will usually try to turn round so they are facing the opposite way, which is a natural defence against predators in the wild. You may have to help the dog lift his front leg over, but try not to interfere too much other than holding them still as the bitch may try to drag him along to get away. This can at best put him off mating a bitch, and at worst injure the dog. This ‘tie’ can last for anything from a few minutes to several hours, so make sure you have a comfortable chair or cushion handy as you may be sitting there for quite some time. As the dog swells up inside the bitch and the bitches muscles contract round the dog they cannot be forced apart until nature has taken its course – so the old idea of throwing a bucket of water over two dogs mating in the street was never going to work! When the tie finishes they will just come apart naturally and probably start licking themselves. The dog might take some time to return to his normal size, so don’t worry. It is possible for a bitch to become pregnant without a tie, and this is known as a ‘slip mating’ where the dog enters the bitch for a very short while but does not tie with her.
Prevention of accident!
It is important to ensure that the bitch does not come into contact with another dog as she would have no hesitation in allowing him to mate her as well. It is perfectly possible for puppies to be born in one litter from two different fathers (and in some cases this is actually planned to increase the gene pool from less litters). A DNA test is then carried out on the puppies to determine which dog is the father of which puppies.
It is important to give the breeder a signed form which has the dog’s registration details on and the date of mating, to allow them to register the litter. This can be downloaded from the Kennel Club website or requested by post. A copy of the dog’s pedigree should be provided if not already supplied.
If this has not put you off allowing your dog to be used, then once the necessary health checks have been carried out you could go ahead and advertise your dog at stud, although I would recommend going through your breeder in the first instance, as an ‘unknown’ dog will not be likely to attract many suitors. It is not wise to allow him to be used on ‘the bitch up the road’ without any proper health checks or having a good knowledge of her pedigree as you could end up producing puppies that have genetic faults or are not of suitable breed type.
Once puppies have been produced by him, he could be in demand for future matings, although it is possible that no-one else will want to use him. It has to be pointed out however that there are occasionally some minor problems encountered after allowing a dog to be used at stud, as some may become more dominant around other males, some might start scent marking by cocking their leg indoors or even trying to mate other animals, human legs or even cushions! However, this is not a common occurrence and most dogs will remain the same as before, if just a little more worldly wise!