How to find and choose a mate for your dog

If you own a female dog (also known as bitch) and would like to breed from her, how do you go about finding a suitable stud dog to mate her with that has all the good qualities that you’re looking for in a male? Searching for the right stud dog can sometimes be time consuming and challenging, but it’s worth it if you find a mate that complements your dog, helping to produce healthy, happy puppies that improve the breed.

The benefits of using a stud dog

Unless you own a both the stud dog and the bitch that you’re thinking of mating together, or you happen to know someone with a potential mate that would complement your dog, you’ll need to find a stud dog for your bitch.

A stud dog service will, for a fee, provide you with a male dog to help your female get pregnant (also known as being in whelp). The price of a stud dog service will may be cheaper in some breeds than others, or may depend on how sought after the male is.

A good stud dog service will:
  • Give you support and advice on the mating process and how to get your bitch pregnant. They may also be able to guide you once the puppies are born
  • Provide you with a healthy male who has been fully health tested and screened. The stud dog owner should be able to show you all the relevant health testing certificates and the dog’s Kennel Club registration documents
  • Answer any questions you may have about the stud dog’s pedigree (family tree)

How to find a stud dog

It may be easy to find any old stud service, but finding a good one, whose dog complements yours, can be more difficult. To help you look for the right stud dog, you could try:

  • Speaking with other breeders you know – the first place to start is with your dog’s breeder. They may be able to give you some hints and tips, or may be able to point you in the right direction. Speaking to someone you trust can make a huge difference in reducing your fears and worries. If they can’t help you, try talking to other breeders you’re familiar with and respect. They may not have any dogs currently available, but they may know someone who does
  • Joining a breed clubbreed clubs can be an incredible source of information, advice and support from like-minded breeders and dog enthusiasts. Breed club members may be able to guide you on which stud dogs they would recommend (and ones they wouldn’t) and what to look for in a good stud dog. You may also be able to talk through any questions about breeding, mating, pregnancy and whelping
  • Searching the internet, joining an online forum or using social media – websites, forums and social media groups can be an incredible way of helping you find exactly what you’re looking for. Remember that things online are not always what they seem; always be cautious about the information you give away and do your research thoroughly to check that anyone you contact is who they say they are and does what they say they do
  • Attending dog shows or other canine events – visiting events can introduce you to a new community that shares your interests and passions. Attending these shows can give you the opportunity to talk to other owners, ask questions and see other dogs that pique your interest

When you’re talking to stud dog owners, don’t be offended if they want to know more about you, your dog and their temperament and health. This is a good sign and shows that they’re responsible and want to make sure that you and your dog are suitable for them too.

When should I begin looking for a stud dog?

Finding a good stud dog and doing plenty of research and background checks can take time. It’s best to start looking for a stud dog well in advance of when you’d like to breed from your dog. Doing this research in advance also allows you to take the time to understand your dog’s heat cycles so that when it comes to mating, you can decide when they’re most likely to be ready for mating.

Qualities to look for in a stud dog

Finding the right stud dog can take time, patience and a lot of research. Choosing the right stud dog is especially important, as their genes influence how your puppies look, behave and how healthy they are. Choosing the wrong dog on an impulse and without proper research can affect the health and happiness of your future puppies, as well as your reputation. Regardless of why you’re breeding, you should take into consideration the following attributes:


Any stud dog you use must be healthy. The genes they pass on to your puppies play an enormous part in how healthy they become and will affect them for the whole of their life. These genes will also be passed on if your puppies have any offspring, and so on and so on, so the breeding decisions you make can have an impact for generations to come.  

It's vital that you find out about any disease they may have, their medical history and whether they have had the health tests that we recommend for your breed (they should be able to show you their health certificates). It’s also essential that you ask about the health of their parents, siblings and any previous puppies. Understanding more about any health conditions they have, whether they’re inherited or how they’re inherited, can help you decide if you would like to use them for breeding. If they have not been appropriately health screened then keep looking for another dog.

You can look up the health test results of any dog on our database.


Although a dog’s temperament is controlled by a mixture of genes, their environment and their upbringing, the stud dog you choose should have a good temperament. To avoid any negative temperament traits being passed to your puppies, you should never choose a stud dog that is shy, nervous, unpredictable or aggressive. To get a better gauge of the stud dog’s temperament, it’s important that you meet them in person before the mating and spend time with them.


If you’re paying for a stud dog service then you would expect them to be fertile. If the stud dog has been used before, you can ask if they have previously had any fertility issues. If they have never been used at stud, asking them to have a fertility test before you use them may be sensible.

Looks (breed standard confirmation)

Each breeder will prioritise certain qualities over others. If you’re breeding dogs to show them, then the way they look will be more important to you than if you’re breeding to produce pets. Regardless of your reasons to breed, the stud dog you choose shouldn’t have any extreme features, especially if they affect the dog’s health, such as excessive wrinkles, a very flat-faced, overshot jaw, dental overcrowding, etc.

Balancing your breeding decisions

No dog is perfect, but it’s important that you decide what your priorities are and choose two mates that complement each other and balance out each other’s flaws. If your dog has a weakness that you would like to improve upon, then make sure it’s one of the stud dog’s strengths. Breeding is about getting the right balance, so it’s important to weigh up their health, personality and the way they look. This can be tricky, but is easier to do with research, advice and experience. Ask any potential stud dog owners if they have any references.

Always go to see a prospective stud dog

Online photos and written information are useful in helping you find out more about the dog, but you should always see them yourself. Seeing a stud dog with your own eyes can help you check that they’d complement your dog and that you like their temperament, the way they move and the way they look.

Do your pedigree research

When deciding on a stud dog, ask the owner if you can see the pedigree. The stud dog’s pedigree will show you their family tree, including their parents, grandparents and siblings. Seeing this is especially important if you’re a pedigree dog breeder. It can help you understand the dog’s bloodline, look at their relatives' health results to ensure they are compatible and find out whether there are any champions in the pedigree.

Check how related your dogs are

Dogs that are related to one another are likely to share similar genetic material. The more closely related dogs are, the more similar their genetic material is likely to be. This similar genetic material could be genes linked to positive characteristics, like a good temperament or something to do with the way they look, but it could also include faulty genes that cause health problems.

The more closely related dogs are, the higher the risk that their puppies will be affected by certain inherited health conditions, or be affected by inbreeding depression (reduced litter size, increased puppy mortality, reduced fertility, a shorter lifespan, etc.). To avoid close matings, we provide a free online inbreeding calculator that helps you understand how related two dogs are and the possible risks of mating them.

Find out more about our inbreeding coefficient calculators.

Consider choosing a sire that's not over-used

Using a stud dog that’s popular, and has sired lots of litters, may be tempting, but overusing a stud dog can have a huge impact on the health of the breed. Having lots of puppies, by lots of different mates, will spread a dog’s DNA widely throughout a breed. The more widely distributed their DNA becomes, the more difficult it is to find dogs in future generations that aren’t related, meaning it’s more difficult to avoid inbreeding. Also, any inherited diseases that the stud dog may carry, can also spread throughout the breed. The more their genes are distributed through the breed, the more dogs are likely to be affected.

Find out more about managing and maintaining genetic diversity.

Consider the dog’s age

Younger dogs may be less mature and less confident when it comes to mating, but may have a higher sperm count than some older males.

Older males may be more experienced, more confident and will have had time for any health issue to appear, but their sperm quality may decrease as they age.

Are they Kennel Club registered?

If you would like to register your puppies with us, or if you are a Kennel Club assured breeder, you will need to make sure any stud dog you use is Kennel Club registered.

It’s important to check that the stud dog doesn’t have any breeding endorsements, or if it does, that these are removed before mating. You can check to see if a dog has a endorsement on our dog profile.

How far away are they?

Although it shouldn’t be your main consideration, choosing a stud dog that’s close to home may make things easier for you and your dog. Stud dogs that are close by makes it easier for you to meet them for the first time and easier for you to visit them for the mating, which will be less stressful for your dog and will keep the cost of travel down too. Many stud dog owners will suggest that the dogs mate two to three times to ensure that the bitch becomes pregnant, so you may need to visit the stud dog several times.

How much is the stud dog fee?

Many stud owners will charge each time their dog is used for mating. This is called a stud fee. Before deciding on a particular stud dog, it’s always worth finding out how much they charge and what that stud fee includes. How much stud owners charge will depend on the breed, the stud’s popularity and their success in the show ring, or at other canine events. Your own dog’s breeder or your local breed club may be able to give you a rough guide on how much a stud fee is in your breed. If you’re still unable to find out how much is reasonable to pay, you may be able to gauge for yourself by looking around on the internet.

What are the stud dog owner’s breeding terms?

Many stud dog owners ask for a fee, while some may ask for a pick of the litter, usually a ‘second pick’. It’s important that you understand what the stud dog gets as payment for their service and that you’re satisfied with this agreement. It’s also important to iron out all of the details before the mating goes ahead, such as:

  • If the stud dog owner wants a puppy, at what age will they be chosen?
  • What happens if the bitch doesn’t have a litter or only has one puppy?
  • Where will the mating take place? Some stud dog owners recommend that the bitch comes to stay with them for a while to ensure the dog is mated – does this boarding cost any extra?

Once you’ve decided on the terms of your agreement, you may need to sign a stud dog contract. This may be a legal document that details all the terms of your agreement in writing. You will need to sign this and should be given a copy to keep.

Next steps

Once you've found out how to find a mate, it's important that both the dogs you use are appropriately health tested and screened. Find out more about health screening.