How Much Are Stud Fees for Dogs?

picture of a purebred dog

When a breeder needs to go outside their own kennel lines to introduce new blood into their breeding program, they need to make use of a stud dog. Stud dogs are reproductively intact male dogs that are used for breeding purposes for a pre-determined amount of money. This set amount is known as a stud fee, and the breeding act provided by the male is called a stud service. Much like other areas involving dog breeding and the subsequent sale of puppies, stud fees are unregulated with each breeder setting the amount they feel is warranted for the use of their stud dog. This information leads to the question—how much are stud fees for dogs and how is the amount of money determined?

What Qualifies a Dog to be a Stud Dog?

Any reproductively intact male dog can be used for breeding; however, not all should be. To encourage optimal health in future generations of puppies, only dogs, both male and female, that are excellent examples of their breed according to their standard and that have passed the requisite health testing for their breed are suitable for use in a breeding program.

Why is this?

Adherence to the breed standard helps with breed preservation. It is what ensures that a Beagle continues to look and act like a Beagle instead of over time starting to take on physical characteristics and personality traits of other breeds. Since all breeds were designed with a specific purpose in mind, this strict observance of the breed standard ensures that we continue to have dogs that are able to fulfill their intended function and that are consistent in appearance and personality.

Health testing of all breeding stock is one way that breeders can have a reasonable assurance that the dogs used in their breeding program do not pass on the most common heritable issues in their breed. By carefully health testing to understand the genetic material behind their dogs, breeders can make thoughtful pairings to encourage optimal health and wellness in the resulting offspring of any mated pair. 

Why is a Stud Fee Charged?

A stud service involves work. Work for the breeder and work for the dog. Most often, when a breeder agrees to a stud service, the female dog is shipped to the breeder’s home, so he or she can facilitate the breeding between the two animals. This may mean travel to and from the airport to pick up the female dog as well as caring for her and housing her during her stay which can be up to a week or longer. In addition to this; if the pair is unable to mate naturally, the breeder may be required to collect semen from the male dog and artificially inseminate the female, a practice that requires an experienced and skillful breeder to do. Even when breeding naturally, the mating pair may require assistance from the breeder and should be carefully supervised to prevent injury to either animal.

But more than this, the breeding of two dogs together, if timed properly, will result in puppies. It takes both the female dog and the male dog to create the litter. In most cases, the owner of the female dog is the person that will own the puppies created in the coupling. That owner is then able to keep or sell the puppies at his or her discretion.

The stud dog owner is paid a fee which most often is equivalent to the cost of one puppy for allowing the use of their dog, facilitating the stud service, and providing a guarantee of a litter. Though stud service agreements differ from breeder to breeder; most often, most breeders will define a litter as a certain number of puppies live at the time of birth and guarantee that minimum. If for some reason, fewer than that number are born, the breeder will then provide a return stud service at no cost to the female dog’s owner.

In some cases, the stud owner will prefer to take first pick puppy from a mating in lieu of a stud fee. When this is the preferred option for payment, these terms will be clearly outlined in the stud service agreement. Regardless of whether the stud dog owner prefers a cash payment or a puppy in lieu of a stud fee, there should be a contract that outlines all of the agreed upon details. This should be signed and dated by both parties and should be witnessed by a third party to form a legally binding agreement.

How Do Breeders Decide How Much a Stud Fee Should Be?

There are many different factors which combine to help a breeder determine how much to ask for a stud fee for the use of their dog. These include: 

The value of the dog’s pedigree

A dog’s pedigree is a vital document that is of great value to any breeder. A pedigree can be read like a book, telling a breeder what dogs are behind any given stud dog and giving a glimpse into what that dog has produced in the past. This offers a breeder the chance to forecast what any two breeding dogs may produce in a future mating.

Some pedigrees are very rare, containing particularly important sires or dams in a line, many of whom may no longer be living. The rareness and importance of a pedigree will often increase the popularity of a sire and will also drive up the price for the privilege of using the dog for stud.

In some cases, breeders have collected semen from their males and frozen it for future use. When a breeder opts to purchase frozen semen, they must pay the stud dog owner the cost of having the semen shipped to them as well as the stud fee they would pay for a live breeding. Frozen semen can also be useful with living stud dogs that live too great distance from the female dog for fresh, chilled semen or a live breeding to be viable. 

Whether or not the male is a “proven” sire

Until a male has sired a litter, it is impossible to know if he is able to produce puppies or not. The breeder can arrange to have his or her male collected, and his semen quality evaluated, but even if the semen is considered to be excellent; sometimes, a pregnancy will not occur.

In addition to this, stud dogs that have sired litters in the past give female dog owners the chance to observe that dog’s offspring as they mature and grow, giving them an idea of what they may be able to expect in a pairing with their own female.

Proven sires typically have a slightly higher stud fee than unproven ones. 

The dog’s show/performance/working record

Stud dogs who have enjoyed highly successful careers in the show, performance, or hunting arenas typically come with higher price tags when it comes to their stud services.  

The successes of the stud dog’s offspring

Stud dogs who have produced a number of offspring that have enjoyed successful show or performance careers or are particularly noteworthy for their temperaments and abilities are the best advertisement for a breeder. Female dog owners gain confidence when they are able to view a stud dog’s “get,” particularly if they have the opportunity to meet some of them in person. This is the best way to get a feel for what a stud dog is capable of producing and may, in fact, produce again in the future. 

The dog’s breed

Some dog breeds are very rare and finding a high-quality stud dog can be very difficult. This too plays a role in the final pricing of a stud fee. 

Guarantee of clear health testing and brucellosis-free

All reputable breeders should be willing to display proof of appropriate health testing for their breed prior to any agreement for a stud service. This is an important part in helping to ensure the future health of a litter and of the breed as a whole. In addition to this, most breeders require and also provide proof of a negative brucellosis test prior to any breeding attempts. Brucellosis is a highly contagious bacterial issue that is passed via bodily fluids. When a dog is affected by the brucella canis bacteria, it causes an infection of the reproductive system which ultimately leads to infertility. There is no effective cure for brucellosis, and sadly, it can also be passed from dogs to humans. 

Why Do Breeders Have a Stud Dog Contract?

A stud service contract ensures each person involved in a breeding understands what they are providing and what is expected of them. It serves as a form of protection and helps eliminate problems by making each aspect of the breeding and the ownership and decision making for the resulting puppies very clear.

How Soon Can a Dog Be Used for Stud?

Most often, a male dog is fertile and can be used for breeding as young as 7 months of age (for some breeds). However, breeding a male at this tender age is often not recommended. Many suggested health tests are age specific and cannot be done until a dog is past age two. With this in mind, the appropriate age for breeding any male is when he is capable of producing high quality, viable sperm AND when he has passed all appropriate health testing for his breed.

How Do Breeders Find the Right Stud Dogs for Their Females?

When it comes to breeding two dogs together, not just any two dogs will do. To help improve the breed and maintain a consistent appearance and temperament, it is important to select a stud dog that is suited to the female in question. Pedigree plays an important role in this process as breeders can carefully assess the pedigree of their female to determine what traits she consistently produces then evaluate that against any potential show dog and what characteristics his offspring typically exhibit.

However, pedigree is only one part of the puzzle. It is also important to look at both dogs very critically to determine a list of each dog’s strengths and weaknesses. Typically speaking, it is never a good idea to double up on a fault. So, if one dog has poor rear angulation, it is best to choose a stud dog for that female that has excellent rear angulation in the hopes that some of the resulting offspring will have the ideal amount of angulation. It is important that these assessments be both honest and objective as the goal of any breeding is to improve on what a breeder already has. The only way this can be accomplished is with total honesty in all evaluations.

Breeders should also bear in mind that genetics is a cruel game. It is impossible to fix everything a breeder hopes for in one generation, and it is also unfair to blame faults on one dog over another. Any time two dogs are mated, the breeder has a chance of getting some puppies with all of the worst qualities of the parents, some with all of the best, but most often, it is a mix of the two. Breeding two dogs together is a gamble at best, and breeders are at the mercy of the genetic draw.

Temperament is the most crucial element of any breeding. It is never, NEVER a good idea to choose a stud dog that has a temperament that is unstable or undesirable in some way. This is also true of dogs with physical problems that could be passed on to their puppies such as severe allergies, blindness, deafness, etc. It is important to remember that the breeder cannot keep every puppy produced from a pairing, and many of those puppies will move on to loving forever pet homes. It is vitally important that the puppies placed in these homes have excellent temperaments and are in good health.

How much are stud fees for dogs? The answer is: it varies.  Stud fees are decided upon by each individual breeder and are determined by everything from show and performance awards to pedigrees, bloodlines, and even rareness of breed. Most often, the stud fee is equivalent to the price of one pet or show quality puppy.

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