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Makeup of a good stud dog?

by Sherry

Simone is my absolutely beautiful 1 1/2 yr old maltese. My friends think so too. They say I should put him out for stud. His pedigree papers are showing lots of Champions too. Before I would mate him, what do I need to know? Will it change his personality? I bought him for a pet but its not marked on his papers "limited registeration" nor was there a spay-neuter agreement involved so I assume he is ok to breed. Am I missing something? I don't want to do anything ethically wrong. Can anyone help with my decision.


Please bear in mind when reading topics pertaining to health issues, that many of these questions were answered by helpful Maltese owners with no formal education in veterinarian medicine. When in doubt seek a professionals advise.

Breeding your male may alter his personality; if he has not marked his territory (by lifting his leg), he probably will do so once he is bred. It is just a hormone thing that is directed by instinct. Also, there are sexually transmitted diseases that you need to be aware of, before offering your male at public stud. Confer with your vet about those. There are tests that you can require the bitches to have before breeding your dog to them. (Also you will need to have the same tests for your dog each time to assure the bitches' owners that your dog is clean also.)These diseases can kill a litter of puppies and leave dog and bitch infertile, requiring neuter and spay. These same diseases can run thru a whole kennel (:( even without sexual activity, so be careful.

Also, enlist the aid of a breeder/exhibitor in your area to evaluate your dog. You didn't say where or from whom you bought him, which might explain the open registration. Get someone experienced in evaluating Maltese to help you fully assess the attributes and faults of your dog to help you make the correct decision. (In any number of breeds, there have been wonderful producers who were never shown for whatever reason; however, most breeders like myself would prefer to breed to a champion because that dog supposedly has met a standard of conformation by completing its championship.) If he is great, you might consider showing him so that other Maltese owners can see him and consider him for breeding purposes.

Finally, do consider the responsibility of the puppies he would produce. What restrictions would you place on the owner of the bitch? Such as: all pet puppies sired by your dog could be sold only on limited registration with spay/neuter requirements; no selling of puppies to pet shops, etc. (I put many such restrictions, simply because I don't want my furry critters--or babies they produce-- winding up being bred to death. Also, I believe that one should not breed a pet quality Maltese, because one might be passing on serious faults/health problems. Breeding is a sacred trust--the future of the breed is in our hands and we MUST be very careful.
-Linda (Snow Angel Maltese)

Well Sherry, you should realize that Simone is not breeding quality just because his papers show that he has a good background. This is an important *first step*, but it is nothing more than a first step. Lots and lots of Maltese have great backgrounds but are completely unsuited - even dangerous - to breed.

First, if Simone originally came from a pet store, which might be difficult to find out, the papers may be faked, or they may not belong to that dog. Often puppy mills (where most petshop pups come from, as you probably know) send papers with their pups, but don't bother to match the puppy with the papers.

Even if the papers are legitimate, they do not give anywhere near enough information to help you decide whether your Maltese is breeding quality or not. Every breeding of top-quality dogs produces puppies that are closer to the breed standard than others. Some pups are healthier than the rest. Some are better tempered. The intent of a quality breeding program is to breed only the dogs who are close to the top of the list in all these categories. Of course, there are puppies from the same litters which are closer to the bottom of the list. These dogs, although usually of better quality than any badly bred puppy, are still not of breeding quality. They are sold as pet quality.

A dog worthy of leaving his genes to future generations must be judged independently to be close to the breed standard. It should be healthy and good-tempered. To find out whether your Maltese (not his ancestors, but your individual dog himself) is of this high quality, you have to have him judged medically, temperamentally, and conformationally. The last may mean he himself (again, not his ancestors, but he himself) should be shown to a Championship, or at least should be judged by numerous experienced Maltese breeders and judges to be close to the breed standard. After all, we want the Maltese to continue to look like the Maltese, and not become another Poodle or Bischon-like "cutsy" breed.

Health is essential. Just because your Maltese looks healthy doesn't mean that he really is healthy. He can be affected by a disease that just hasn't shown up yet, or he can carry a recessive disease. You don't know unless you have certain tests done. A few of these tests can be done by your vet, but most results need to be evaluated by experts. If he is healthy, you know at least that you won't be sued for big bucks because you didn't check your Maltese's liver status and he throws a puppy who develops liver shunt disease at an early age. You might still be sued if the puppy is unhealthy, but at least you can show that you did all the tests required and recommended by the Maltese breed club in your area, and that you adhered to the club's code of ethics.

Some diseases can't be tested for, so you need to know the dogs in the pedigree - not just their names and titles, either. You need to have a good knowledge of their physical and mental health, because sick dogs earn Championship titles every day!

You should also realize that there are some bad-tempered Maltese out there. It's not enough to reason that since both parents are sweet, the puppies will be too. It seems to me that some temperament problems skip generations, so if you don't know the temperaments of your dog's and the female's ancestors for the last few generations, you could help produce puppies with temperaments that are very much undesirable. Since genes don't disappear in puppies just because the parents were of different breeds, these precautions must be taken if you produce mongrel puppies too.

Have you ever been to your local rescue organization? Many Maltese owners think that the only dogs in shelters and rescue are strays or vicious or sickly dogs. This is patently untrue. There are Maltese dogs in rescue, in shelters and, sadly, in research labs being tortured for profit. Most of these dogs die young.

These dogs have almost all come from breeders such as you who may be a very nice person, without a mean bone in your body, but who thought (as I think you might) that there are more people wanting dogs than there are dogs. Sadly, it's the reverse entirely. Every city has hundreds of sweet dogs waiting in shelters for homes that will never come. They end up being killed, or being tortured in cosmetic laboratories, or being adopted by some abusive idiot who has no business owning a dog. If you don't want that to happen to Simone's puppies, you have to make sure that the dam's owner and you take responsibility for the puppies, even years later, to ensure they don't end up like these dogs did.

Owning a stud dog is a pretty expensive proposition, too. Not only do you have to get all the tests for genetic disease done, you have to have brucellosis swabs done, fertility tests, etc. You have to help the dogs mate (I don't mean you have to introduce them; I mean you may have to separate two dogs fighting to the death instead of mating, or if your male doesn't know what to do you may have to take his penis in your hand, push it out of the prepuce, hold the female, and put the penis in her vagina manually. (Yep, dogs don't always know how to do it by themselves the first time!) Most stud dog owners keep the female on site for a few days so repeated breedings can increase the chance of a successful mating. If you do this, and the chances of a successful mating are better if you do, you need a safe place to keep her where other males can't get to her.

You should also be aware that Simone will probably become much more male if you mate him. He will NOT cool down, but instead will more than likely heat up. He will hump more, mark more, and could even become more aggressive. Can you handle this? Do you want to?

Ah! Then there's the contract! You need to protect yourself from the many unscrupulous "breeders" out there, so you have to make sure that the contract spells out your rights and responsibilities, including:

As you can see, there's a lot to owning a stud dog. Think about it, and if you can handle the temperament changes in your Maltese, the legal responsibilities, and the worry, go for it! But if you expect to breed your sweet Simone with another sweet Maltese based only on his papers and your friends evaluations just to make money on the breeding, please don't. Please instead volunteer with a Maltese rescue,and help puppies that were bred by people with little thought and less preparation. You'd be doing a good thing for all of us.

Linda and Jay, what a helpful thing you do by honestly giving feedback to this discussion board about breeding. You offer so much to think about! Sherry, if you are like me, it seems discouraging at first, and I have still not decided what I want to take on and can realistically afford, in order to really breed responsibly as described by Jay and Linda. I think it is possible, but requires a lot on many different levels. Good luck with your decision. Thanks again, Linda and Jay--I think I appreciate most your respect for the life that you bring into this world and your committment to take responsibility to provide for and protect it.

I have had many people want to use my stud with their dogs, and after much thought, I sent an email to Jay privately. After his response, I decided not to. I have had my dogs tested for everything, and know the background of all of them. I know that Jr. has wonderful healthy puppy's but that was not my main concern. I know where my babies are, and with my return guarantee, I feel that I will always know that they are safe and in a good home. The scary part would be not knowing where my males offspring was. I rescue too many maltese from shelters and off of the street, in conditions that still amaze me. I could not sleep not knowing where my babies were, so he will never be put at stud. Thanks to wonderful people who give us good advice. I hope that Jay's response is kept on the main page so that other people will have access to it at all times.
-Marsha A.

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