I decided to breed Iris this year, and just returned in mid May from breeding her. Breeding involves a lot of planning and work, and that’s before you even do a breeding.
Evaluating My Bitch
First, you evaluate the bitch, make sure she passes all the recommended health tests (in my breed, this includes a heart echocardiogram, DNA test for Lethal Acrodermatitis (LAD), patella check, BAER hearing test, and Urine Protein Creatinine test for kidney function. All systems go, and really, Iris is a pretty high show quality animal. Her biggest fault is a very high set, curled tail, that has a big white tip to attract attention to it!. These tail faults are very common in the breed right now, so it was a challenge to find a dog that had something approaching a proper tail that is “Short, straight, set on low and tapering to a fine point”
Choosing a Stud Dog
I finally settled on GCH Ch Devil’s Apprentice by Formula, aka Hamilton. He’s larger than I like, and not white, so we may get some solid colored puppies, but otherwise is a good fit. Hamilton not only addresses the tail issue, but also has better feet and shoulders, and does not appear to carry the recessive black gene. I love my black brindle Iris, but it is not my favorite color! Iris on the other hand has more width at the end of her muzzle, more compact, typy proportions and is very smart, which are not Hamilton’s strengths.
I then contacted Hamilton’s resident owner, Cindy Perrott (he’s co-owned by 3 people) and we swapped information on health testing and pedigrees. She shared his contract and stud fee arrangements and I agreed to contact her as soon as possible after Iris came in season.
Reproductive Testing Protocol
More testing ensued after Iris came in season. I use Schultz Veterinary Clinic in Okemos MI for reproductive testing, so she went in on day 8 of her season for her first exam. We had a smear test to confirm she was actually in heat, brucellosis test, which is rare but devastating for breeding animals and can be transmitted to people, check to make sure she had no vaginal strictures, and the most important test, a progesterone blood test. The progesterone testing continued every 2-3 days until the number passes 5, which indicates ovulation. Then you calculate time for the eggs to ripen, life span of the sperm type you’re using, and settle on breeding dates.
Dog Breeding Trip
Since Hamilton is only 5 hours drive from me, I elected to drive there to do breedings with fresh semen. Everything went well and now the waiting game begins.
I had a nice trip, I got a chance to visit with a friend and former colleague who had moved to that area. Then I went to visit a 3 week old litter of Hamilton puppies nearby. I enjoyed talking with friends who collaborate to breed, raise, evaluate, and place puppies. We shared dog stories, compared dog rearing practices, and tried to evaluate the puppies.
Three weeks is not a great age to evaluate puppies, but there was one that looked like a balanced package already, one that looked like the least promising, and a couple of Big Ones. People are always drawn to the big puppies, but there’s no guarantee they will turn out to be the best, or even the biggest dogs from a show standpoint.
Wait and See
Now it’s time to wait. In about four weeks I’ll have a good idea if she’s pregnant. It’s possible to do an ultrasound to find out just a little bit earlier, but I don’t have a burning need to know that early. If she is, it’s time to prepare for the whelping, raising Bull Terrier puppies and finding and evaluating homes. Stay tuned.