Breeding champion dogs is a discipline that requires you to learn and grow over time. As a responsible breeder, you must plan, research, and execute your breeding plan with a clear goal in mind.
Responsible champion dog breeders are not in the business solely for money. They focus on producing healthy dogs that meet the breed standard. To achieve their goals, champion breeders will consider three things. They breed from the highest quality dogs and ensure that their dogs are health tested. In addition, they carefully study the pedigree of the stud and dam to ensure that the litter is healthy and improves the breed in some way.
Keep the Breed Standard in Mind
Before you begin breeding champion dogs you will need to understand breed standards. Breed standards are written by breed associations and breed clubs. They are designed to define the ideal animal of the breed and provide goals for breeders in improving their animals. The breed standard for a dog details what the breed should look like, its movement, and its ideal temperament. This makes the standard important for breeders who wish to breed ideal specimens of that breed. In essence, the breed standard is the blueprint for an animal that is fit for its original function. This could be hunting, tracking, or livestock guardianship. Breed standards vary between associations. They are often updated over time as well.
A large degree of faults from the breed standard indicates that the dog is not suitable for breeding. Dogs who deviate from the breed standard oftentimes make wonderful pets but will not fare well in conformation shows. Some champion breeders sell their pet-quality pups on a limited registration basis. This means that the pet-quality puppy can participate in AKC events like agility and obedience, but not conformation. It also means that the puppy cannot be bred from in the future. As you might guess, champion breeders place the pet-quality puppies on this limited registration to prevent unscrupulous buyers from breeding these puppies.
Have a Long-Term Goal
Becoming a champion breeder and developing your own bloodline demands that you establish a clear breeding plan. This plan should be tangible and measurable. The first port of call is to identify the breed characteristics you wish to reproduce in your litters. You will need to be familiar with your breed’s structural soundness and genetic health issues.
In order to breed dogs for improvement of the breed, you will need to understand three things: your breed’s standard, its modes of inheritance, and what strengths and weaknesses there are in your pedigrees. If the strengths and weaknesses of your dogs do not offset each other, it makes little sense to breed them in the future.
Another mistake is to emphasize only one trait due to your long-term goal. Breeders who fail to consider the whole dog, including its core traits (conformation, temperament, and health) will find that the quality of their litters will drift away from the breed average. This is most often seen in litters where the goal is only to produce new coat colors – other aspects of the dogs are not paid enough attention and the end result can be dogs that deviate far from the breed standard.
Buy the Best Founding Stock
All high-quality bloodlines are established by incorporating excellent quality stock from someone else’s bloodline. It is not often that a pet quality dog can be incorporated into the breeding program. Due to this, the best advice is to begin with the best stock you can find, and breed this dog or bitch to a top-quality stud. But how do you choose what bloodline to begin with, and what entails quality founding stock?
When evaluating the champion bloodlines in your breed you should be careful to remember your long-term goal. Champion bloodlines might be of some help to you if the recent generations in that bloodline show evidence of success in the show ring. However, if you are looking to breed dogs for better health and temperament, not all champion show dogs will be exact pictures of what you might want to achieve. You, as the buyer, need to be familiar enough with your breed to know what genetic health problems you might run in to, and what the dog’s breeder has done to avoid them.
To further ensure success, be sure to stick with proven dogs. These are studs and dams who have a track record of producing litters. If you go with an unproven stud, the likelihood that the breeding will be unsuccessful is higher. An unproven dog might have unrevealed fertility issues and be inexperienced at mounting. This can lead to disappointment for you and unnecessary stress for your bitch. At the same time, a “proven” stud only tells one thing – that the dog is fertile. Be sure to verify that the stud is also health tested before choosing him!
Select the Right Partners
When selecting your dog’s partners there are two aspects to consider: pedigree analysis and proven stock. Pedigree analysis entails the research of your stock’s ancestors. A lot of valuable information can be quickly garnered by studying your dog’s pedigree, such as: titles and awards, inbreeding level, health status, coat types and colors, patterns of desired and undesired traits, and general ancestry. Another aspect to consider is whether your dog’s partners are proven or not. Dams and sires become proven only once they have produced a healthy and disease-free litter. Breeders who are willing to pay a higher sum and do not want to risk an unsuccessful breeding may opt for using proven breeding stock.
All the awards a dog earns in AKC events become part of its records. This means that when a dog wins a championship title, the title will be permanently noted in the dog’s pedigree. When you study your dog’s pedigree, the abbreviation “CH” before a dog’s name will indicate a conformation championship award. The abbreviation “FC” indicates a champion in the field. A closer look at the pedigree will reveal just how many champion dogs make up the ancestry of your dog.
Research Your Pedigree's Genetics
When evaluating your champion breeding program, remember that most of the traits you’re aiming for cannot be fixed or changed in one single generation. The more information you obtain about how those traits have been transmitted by your dog’s ancestors, the better you can hone your breeding plan!
By studying your dog’s pedigree you can ascertain what positive traits run strong in your bloodline. For example, there are currently a few but important pieces of information that can be found on a dog’s pedigree: OFA, OFAL, and EYE. If a dog has the abbreviation OFA, it means that they have been examined for hip dysplasia. A dog examined under the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals‘ guidelines can be graded as F (Fair), G (Good), or E (Excellent). Similarly, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals sets criteria for elbow dysplasia examination. A pass on the exam will appear as “OFAL” on the pedigree. Finally, the EYE abbreviation means that the dog passed the eye exam and was free of eye disease when tested.
While a pedigree often unveils the important qualities of a dog’s bloodline, there are also downsides to one too, few as they might be. Some aspects of a champion bloodline are difficult to interpret based on a dog’s pedigree. For example, it’s difficult if not impossible to know whether a puppy or dog has come from a responsible and ethical breeder based on a pedigree alone. Of course, breed clubs and social circles are often very closely knit, but a new and inexperienced breeder may be unaware of another breeder’s practices if they do not reach out to other breeders in the community. Newcomers to breeding can also be misled by a pedigree. If a registered dog has a pedigree available it does not automatically mean that the dog will be suitable in your breeding program.
What Needs to be Genetically Acquired?
AKC DNA Profiling is needed for: Frequently used sires, imported breeding stock, dogs whose semen is stored, and for the puppies, sire, and dams of Multiple-Sired Litter Registration. If a stud you wish to use has sired enough litters his DNA profile will be available through the AKC. DNA testing is a great tool that adds integrity to a pedigree. Not only can this confirm the parentage of a dog, but it can also confirm that the dog is indeed clear of hereditary diseases as a pedigree might claim.
Create a Feedback Loop
As a responsible breeder, your community’s feedback is vital for your success. While it is just as important to love your dogs and be passionate about improving their breed, it’s also important to be objective when needed. This means taking feedback and criticism from other breeders and customers alike.
Don’t be afraid to get out there and speak to knowledgeable people about your breed! Approach handlers and judges to discuss the breed. Show your dogs to people who know the breed well, and be open to their criticism. Not only will this help you to identify your dogs’ weak areas, but it will also further assist in improving the bloodline as a whole.
Study and Learn from Existing Champion Breeders
If you want to breed champion dogs it’s often best to learn from the best. Don’t be afraid to reach out to local and well-known breeders to ask for advice and guidance! By reaching out to others in the circle, you can gain useful contacts, insight into who has the ideal stock for your program, and even life-long friends too.
Because puppies undergo growth spurts, many champion breeders wait until their pups are eight weeks to decide which ones are destined for the show ring. Some invite other breeders they trust to inspect the puppies and give their opinion. Having trustworthy contacts in the breed circle will help you to decide which puppies are your next champions.
How to Breed Champion Dogs – FAQs
Have any more questions or concerns about breeding champion dogs? Our Frequently Asked Questions section will have all the answers you need to start breeding champion dogs.
What is the Best Way to Breed a Dog?
The two best ways to breed a dog are natural mating and artificial insemination. Which one is best for you as a breeder might depend on your budget, location, and personal preferences.
One-to-one matings are ideal for breeders who live reasonably close to each other. Breeding dogs naturally is important to a lot of owners. There is also a social aspect to one-to-one breedings as you and the stud or dam’s owner will need to meet in person. By meeting in person, you can also get a better idea of the temperament of both dogs.
Artificial insemination is best for breeders who live far from each other. Thanks to AI, the dam and stud don’t have to be transported long distances, reducing stress for both parties. For many breeders, this means that the gene pool of the breed is vastly expanded, creating potentially healthier dogs. In addition, some bitches are unwilling to undergo one to one matings but will tolerate AI.
What is the Best Age to Breed a Dog?
As a general rule, most bitches can be bred at two years of age. Some breeds mature earlier than two years, but allowing your bitch more time to mature psychologically and physically is often the most ethical way to breed her. This also allows you more time to evaluate your bitch’s temperament.
Furthermore, the OFA does not accept X-rays for bitches less than two years old. This means that your breeding bitch cannot be cleared for hip dysplasia if she is under two years old. In breeds that are prone to this condition clearance from hip dysplasia is highly desirable, and responsible breeders will aim to only breed from dogs that are proven to be free from genetic conditions.
How do I Teach my Dog to Breed?
If your male dog hasn’t mated before, he might not know what to do. Likewise, maiden bitches can get nervous if they haven’t mated before. This is normal. Fortunately, there are ways you can help your dogs to breed successfully.
The most important thing to do is to keep your stud and bitch calm. If your dogs are agitated or over-excited, mating is less likely to occur. Make sure that you choose a location that’s not prone to interruptions and loud noises. If your dogs get too startled it can halt the mating. It can also help to introduce your dogs to each other the day before the mating is scheduled. Allowing the dogs more time to get comfortable with one another should make the mating go smoothly when the time comes.
Some dogs will appreciate being guided along the way. If your dogs are struggling to position correctly you can gently hold the female to keep her steady and provide some comfort. The stud should be allowed to penetrate the bitch on his own if possible but if he repeatedly struggles it can help to direct him yourself.
How Many Times do Dogs have to Mate to get Pregnant?
The American Kennel Club recommends that dogs should be bred every other day for a total of two or three matings. However, it should be noted that how many times a dog is mated is less important than when a dog is mated. Most dogs are successfully mated between the tenth and fourteenth day after the onset of proestrus. At the same time, a bitch can ovulate as early as the third or fourth day after the onset of proestrus or as late as the thirtieth day of the heat period. As long as you pinpoint the best time to mate your dogs, breeding once, twice or three times should be sufficient.
How Many Days Will a Female Dog Accept a Male?
A bitch in heat will accept a male for the 3 to 11 days of her estrus. The female might also be receptive a day or two after the time when she would be fertile. This does not mean that you should breed your bitch every day of her estrus! Frequent breeding is not only uncomfortable for your bitch but can cause your stud to produce lower quality sperm. You should only mate your dogs once, twice or three times to ensure her comfort and better quality sperm from the stud. With that being said, never force your bitch to accept a male. If she refuses, re-evaluate your approach, and make sure that she is calm and stress-free.
Breeding champion dogs is a long-term commitment that requires dedication and passion for the breed. Responsible champion breeders recognize the breed standard, have a long-term plan, use high-quality stock, and research their dogs’ pedigrees. There is also a social aspect for breeding champion dogs. The best breeders will ensure that they have trustworthy contacts in their breed circle. This allows them to get expert opinions on their litters.