How To Judge the Breeding Soundness of Your Male Dog


In the world of dogs, the male can have a very big influence on the breed, for good or bad. As he is not a seasonal breeder, but instead is capable of breeding every other day without any loss of fertility, the male can play a huge role in the genetics of any given breed. Although the cost of shipping and the inherent risks and stress may be a hindrance, he is able to service bitches from all over the country. With modern technology, the dog’s sperm can be collected and used even after he has passed on. Hence, a dog’s role is potentially much larger in a breed than the female’s. This can be a double edged sword. The owner/breeder needs to make some very serious decisions before allowing any one male to have too large a role in a breed.

Is He Worth It?

Does a particular male have one or more outstanding features that are worth carrying on? Is he an excellent example of what the standard outlines? Is his temperament correct? If he is from a working breed, has he proven to be able to perform the job that he was bred for correctly and with enthusiasm? Is he healthy and sound, with no apparent conformation faults or other problems? A worthwhile male should excel in all of these areas.

What Is His General Health?

Is he considered an “easy keeper?” In other words, is he able to maintain his health and correct weight when fed a normal amount of quality food? Is he active, with stamina appropriate for his breed? Is his coat shiny and in very good condition? Keep in mind that if he is not thrifty, but is either too thin or too fat,  is unable to maintain his weight without special care, or is just not in good, overall condition, he should not be used for breeding. The only time that this is not true is if he has a problem which is not caused by genetics, such as worms. If this can be corrected easily with simple care, than that should not be used to judge him.

Has He Had a Veterinary Examination?

If the dog appears to be worth it, and is in good general health, then regular visits to the veterinarian should be made to insure that he remains worth it and in good health. Along with the regular check-ups for internal parasites, vaccinations and dental care, a potential stud dog should have his entire reproductive system checked. All of his reproductive system should be checked for any swelling, infection or discharges. During this examination, his testicles should be carefully examined. Are they a good size for his breed? Are they firm in texture and in the correct position in the scrotum? The epididymis, spermatic cord and prostate should also be palpated to check for any irregularities.

When collecting a semen sample, it is best to use a bitch in estrus as a teaser. This will ensure better quality of the semen.  The semen should be collected in a clean container and checked immediately for motility, concentration and morphologic abnormalities.

It is important to note how the male reacts to the female at this time. Does he engage with the bitch in a flirtatious and playful manner? Is he willing and able to breed? If he seems to have low libido, has he been regularly punished for sexual behavior in the past? This may influence his behavior and should not be used against him. But if there has been no previous disciplinary actions, then a dog with poor libido should not be used, as this may be inherited in his puppies.


Careful consideration should be given before using a male extensively. The owner/breeder should answer these questions honestly, and make their choices based on the answers and not their own prejudice or favoritism. In that way only can they make a very good to excellent contribution to the breed and to the dog world.

For more information on breeding dogs,  read Canine Reproduction, The Breeder’s Guideby Phyllis A. Holst, MS, DVM.


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