How to Create The Ultimate Dog Stud Fee Contract Which Will Prevent Litigation (or Reduce the Risk of Litigation)

Owning a stud dog can be an exciting endeavour since, for many breeds, it is the male dogs that most people notice first. And do we ever want our stud dogs to be noticed, not only by puppy buyers but other people in the breed. In fact, it can be a point of pride knowing that your male dog is a much sought after and priced stud dog in your breed.

But once you have that prized stud dog, there is the sticky matter of contracts that you have to consider and that is what this article is all about. We will take you from choosing the perfect stud to crafting that dog stud fee contract and then, finally, to any problems that can arise.  

Having a Stud Worth Using​​​​

Before we even start looking at a contract, it is important to really take a step back and look at your breeding program. In general, stud dogs are often ignored by the breeding world. What I mean by this is that your stud dog really needs to bring something special to the table for other breeders to put out the money to use him.

If you have a rare breed, obviously, your stud is going to be desirable if there are not a lot of them available. However, if you have a popular breed, such as America’s Number One breed for over 20 years running: the Labrador Retriever, your stud is going to have to stand out from the pack if you want him to be used.

For this reason, you should consider a few things about your stud right from the moment of purchasing him.

  • Lineage: Choose a dog with an excellent pedigree with champions and dogs of merit in his lines. This will help get him noticed above other dogs.
  • Fully Health Tested: Make sure that he has been health tested for all of the genetic conditions that are common for his breed. To get a list of health testing for your specific breed, visit the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
  • Correct Age: Every breed has guidelines for breeding, however, the general rule of thumb is 2 years of age. Many health tests, such as hips, are not done until the dog is 2 years or older.
  • Excellent Example of Breed Standard: Check your stud against the breed standard. Make sure that he doesn’t have any strong faults that can be passed to his offspring.
  • Registered: Most breeders won’t look at a stud dog if he is not properly registered. If you are serious about breeding, make sure your dog is registered with your country’s kennel club.
  • Excellent Health: In addition to being health tested, your stud dog should be in good health before you offer him as a stud. In addition, it should be reflected in your contract that his health is maintained and checked regularly by your veterinarian.
  • Titled: It can be working titles, agility, obedience or confirmation but breeders want to see that your stud dog has proven himself.
  • Appropriate Temperament: This will vary depending on the breed of dog that you have. You want to make sure that your dog has the temperament that is described in the breed standard.

If you feel that your dog shows all of these traits, then you definitely have a stud that will catch the attention of other breeders the world over. That means that you can get down to the business end of the dog stud fee contract.

However, before we move on, I want to mention that there is a 9thtrait you want to look at and that is the fertility of your dog. Throughout his breeding career, it is important to make sure that you constantly test the fertility of your dog. Only offer your dog if his fertility is excellent and be honest if it is in decline or lacking for a period of time.

As with humans, a stud dog’s fertility can be affected by illness, weather and the time of year so it is recommended that you check his fertility every few months to ensure that he is still performing as stud before you take any other contracts with him.

How To Offer Your Stud

Now that you have your stud dog ready for breeding, it is time to look at how your stud dog is going to be offered for services. Although we often just think of natural mating with dog breeding, science has opened up the door for a stud dog to be thousands of miles away from a bitch he is being bred for. You may not feel that this will affect you but part of having a desirable male is also having a male that is accessible. And in today’s day and age, that means that you may need to offer several types of services for your stud dog.

Generally, these fall into the lines of natural breeding and AI. And this means that you will have to consider whether you will do AI collections on your dogs including fresh, fresh chilled and frozen collections.

But before we look at that, we should look at the different types of ways that your dog’s semen can be used by a bitch and her owner.

Natural Breeding​​​​

As you can imagine, the first, and probably the easiest, ways to offer your stud is for natural breeding. This means the bitch is brought to the stud and they are allowed to breed without any artificial means or implementation.

While this can seem very simple; time, space, and location can greatly heed the breeding process. A young, untested male may fail to breed naturally or there may be great problems with size difference or even with compatibility between the two dogs.

If you are planning on only offering natural breeding, be aware that you are limiting your stud and your stud contract to dogs that are only in your general location. In addition, you need to consider a few other things in your contract including:

  • Proper Vaccinations: Your contract state that all females coming to your kennel be properly vaccinated for rabies and other canine diseases such as Bordetella.
  • Blood Tests: In addition to vaccinations, you should have a clause that the female (and your male) is tested for brucellosis before any breeding takes place. Brucellosis is a contagious disease that will cause infertility in dogs. In addition, it can be transmitted to humans with very serious health problems.
  • Alternatives: You should add information in your stud dog contract that states what will happen in the event of a refusal of a stud service. For larger breeding programs, a secondary stud may be offered but for someone just starting out, you should have a contingency plan, such as AI with your vet.
  • Travel and Travel Expenses: Who is travelling to whom is very important to have in your contract and who will cover the costs. Generally, if you are bringing the stud to the female, you cover your own travel costs in the price of the studding. However, if she is travelling to you and staying with you, there may be additional costs in the contract such as kennelling fees if she is with you for an extended stay.

Everything should be noted in your contract, so it prevents confusion at the time of breeding or afterwards when the puppies have arrived.

Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination is becoming a very common and popular choice of breeding. It requires very little time from your stud and you don’t have to worry about the logistics of bringing a female dog to your kennel, which can have complications in and of itself.

This form of breeding is when the semen is collected from the dog and inserted into the female dogs in a variety of different ways. These include:

  • 1
    Standard Artificial Insemination: Standard Artificial Insemination or AI, is when the veterinarian or other professional inserts a catheter into the vulva and into the vagina. The semen is then expelled from a syringe into the bitch, so fertilization can occur. Standard AI is only done with fresh or fresh chilled semen.                                                                    
  • 2
    Transcervical Artificial Insemination: The next artificial insemination is transcervical artificial insemination, also known as transcervical insemination or TCI. This is similar to a standard AI; however, the bitch is immobilized by the vet before a rigid endoscope is inserted into the vulva. The vet uses the camera to locate the cervix and then, carefully, a catheter is inserted through the cervix. The semen is expelled from the syringe as with other AI but this time it is deposited directly into the uterus instead of in the vagina. Success rates are often higher with TCI’s and they allow breeders to use fresh, fresh chilled and frozen semen.                                                  
  • 3
    Surgical Artificial Insemination: Also known as SI, surgical insemination is when the veterinarian places the dog under general anesthetic and then makes a small incision on her midline. Once the uterus is located, the veterinarian will check her overall health before a small needle is inserted through the uterus and a catheter is inserted Semen is deposited directly into the uterus before the bitch’s incision is sutured. It is usually a day treatment and any type of semen: fresh, fresh chilled or frozen, can be used. Primarily, if frozen is used, this is the preferred method of AI.

Although it may not seem like you need to be aware of these points as a stud owner for the contract, understanding the many different ways to breed will help determine your contract and how the expenses are incurred by each party member. In addition, knowing the different types of breeding will help you determine what you are comfortable offering as a stud. This boils down to if you are comfortable with collections or not.

When collected, semen is stored in three different ways. Again, it is important for your contract to be cleared what you offer and if there are differences in price.

Fresh (Click To Know More)

Chilled (Click To Know More)

Frozen (Click To Know More)

So, there are the different ways your stud dog can be used. As you can see, it can seem a bit complicated but overall, it isn’t. Knowing what you are willing to do as a stud dog owner will help determine what you are going to offer in the contract.

What Should be in Your Stud Contract

It may seem like we’ve gone through a lot of information but all of the points before now are very important when you create a stud dog contract. Understanding the ins and outs of your service will make writing your contract much easier when you sit down to start.

So now let’s get to the heart of the task and look at what should be in your contract as well as a few considerations you will need to make.

#1: The Dog Information

When crafting your contract, the very first thing you want to put on the contract is the information of the stud dog and the bitch; along with the information of both breeders. This is very important as it identifies which dogs are breeding and who the contract is between.

Information should include:

  • Registered Names of Both Dogs
  • Date of Birth for Both Dogs
  • Identifying Markers for Both Dogs; for example: microchip numbers and registration numbers
  • Contact Information of Stud Dog Owner: address, phone number, cell number, email address.
  • Contact Information of Bitch Owner: address, phone number, cell number, email address.
  • Contact Information for Veterinarians: Stud dog’s vet on every contract, bitch’s vet in the event of an AI procedure
  • Price of the Breeding
  • Dates of the Breedings: This is important for both your and the dam owner’s records.

Keep the information clear and simple so that it can be accessed easily at the time of breeding, especially in the case of an AI.

#2: The Stud Dog Owner’s Responsibilities

Once you have the information down with the most important information, it is time to list everyone’s responsibilities. I always recommend that you start with the responsibility of the stud dog owner since you are the one offering the service.

Be sure that you highlight every responsibility that you have so it is clearly defined. Do not put any responsibility that you will not offer and make sure that you stress when the responsibility is optional. For example, if a bitch is being bred by AI at her vets you are not going to have to provide supervision or care for the bitch during mating.

Some responsibilities that should be listed are:

  • 1
    Provide a Stud Dog Contract: There are some breeders who do not offer a stud dog contract, but I recommend, for your safety, that you always provide it. Do not expect the bitch’s owner to provide one for you or work without one.
  • 2
    Care and Housing for the Bitch: If the female is coming to you, be sure to outline the care and housing that you will provide. Will she be kenneled, housed with the male, how will she be exercised, fed and provided with time for herself. Also, be sure to add how you will keep her safe from other dogs or from escaping while she is with you. Remember that you will be liable for any dogs that stay with you without their owners there.
  • 3
    Supervision: Outline how you will supervise the actual mating and the procedure you will follow with keeping the dogs safe during and after the tie.
  • 4
    Vet Care: Have alternate plans, including vet intervention, in the event that the dogs do not breed, or they show no interest in breeding. While most breedings will go smoothly, occasionally, you can be thrown a curve ball and will need the help of AI or a vet. Have those emergencies laid out in your contract as well as who would pay for the vet expense if needed.
  • 5
    Registration: Put in the parameters of registration papers. When will you sign, your obligation for signing. As a general rule, registration is not signed until payment for the breeding is made in full.
  • 6
    Your Obligations: Finally, put down your obligations as a stud dog owner. While the owner of the bitch will handle the majority of everything, once the studding is done does not mean that you just take your pay check and walk away. Instead, you should be a source of support and advice for the bitch owner. In addition, you can offer help with finding homes for the puppies or if she needs any advice on puppy and whelping care. You do not have to offer monetary funds but being a resource for information is important for both the bitch’s owner and your reputation.  

#3 The Bitch Owner’s Responsibilities

Just like you have listed your responsibilities, it is important to list the responsibilities of the bitch owner. These should include:

  • 1
    Sign the Stud Dog Contract: Before any breeding is done, the bitch’s owner must agree and sign the stud dog contract. I also include initials on important clauses such as fee payment.
  • 2
    Providing a Healthy Bitch: They should be able to provide you with all of her health tests and screening as well as vet documents for vaccinations. In addition, the bitch should be tested for brucellosis before being bred and the bitch owner should provide you with this information.
  • 3
    Providing the History of the Bitch: This should include her registration papers, pedigree, and her breeding history. Has she been bred before and were there any complications? It is important to know what is happening with the bitch prior to breeding and highlighting this responsibility on the contract is important.
  • 4
    Vet Fees: The majority of the time, all breeding fee incurred are the responsibility of the bitch owner. This does not include testing the semen or vaccinations, etc. or if there is a breeding injury to the stud dog. It does cover collection and shipping of semen in the event of an AI or if the dog and bitch are having the breeding done at the vet.
  • 5
    Travel Fees: Again, like vet fees, the travel expenses to get the bitch to the stud dog is the responsibility of the bitch owner. If you are bringing the stud to the bitch or to a vet, you would either agree to a payment reflecting the cost or would cover the cost on your own.
  • 6
    Registration: Put in the parameters of registration papers and that the bitch owner will register both the litters and the puppies. 
  • 7
    The Bitch Owner’s Obligations: Finally, put down your obligations of the bitch owner. If you would like some input into who the puppies will be sold to (such as never to a pet store or puppy mill), be sure to put that in the contract. This can also include whether the puppies can be sold on full or limited registration to other breeders. If you would like to be notified about anything regarding the offspring, be sure to have that in the contract as well. The main goal is to establish a relationship, which will mean repeated stud services and a partnership for more than one litter. 

#4 The Fee and What Constitutes a Litter

Although the fee is listed at the top of the contract, it is important to always have a separate section for the fee. I will look at pricing your stud dog later in this article, however, for this section, you want to consider what constitutes a litter and explain what happens in the event of no litter.

First, what constitutes a litter? For every breeder, this question is answered slightly different and you will have to figure it out on your own. For me, a litter is 3 or more puppies, but some breeders count 1 or 2 puppies as a litter.

The reason why you want to decide on what a litter is is to determine the fee or what you will do in the event that there isn’t a litter.

Second, in the event that there isn’t a litter, or a small litter that doesn’t constitute a litter, you will need to have in the contract what you will do. Some ideas are:

  • 1
    Refund of stud fee minus the non-refundable deposit.
  • 2
    Reduced stud fee cost for smaller litters. For example, if you charge $2000, 1 puppy is $500, 2 puppies are a $1000, 3 or more is a full litter with full fee of $2000.
  • 3
    Repeat breeding free of charge except for vet fees, again at the bitch owner’s expense. In the event of 2 failed breedings, the stud dog keeps the entire stud fee, or the non-refundable deposit. 

Third and finally, when you are looking at the fee, be sure to include how many breedings during the current heat cycle. Again, a general rule of thumb is three breedings, but you do not have to follow that rule. In addition, as mentioned with how you offer your stud services, some ways of breeding only allow for one breeding.

#5 The After Care of the Bitch

Finally, put in your contract the after care of the bitch and litter as well as the owner’s responsibility to provide proper diet, housing, maintenance and vet care as needed. If the bitch isn’t properly cared for, she could lose the pregnancy. In that instance, you may decide not to offer a repeat stud service if the care was not adequate or the bitch was mistreated in any way.

Although it may seem like a lot to put into a contract, the more thorough you are, the better you are able to protect not only yourself and your stud, but any of his progeny brought into the world.

Pricing your Stud Dog Service

Another important factor that will go into your stud dog contract is the actual price of the fee and how many services will be done with said fee. In general, the type of breeding will determine the number of times the stud dog will service the bitch in heat. For many, the standard number of services per bitch is 2 to 3 times in one heat period. However, for surgical AI’s that time changes to 1 time simply because it is too invasive of a procedure to open up a female dog more than once.

That being said, stud fees will vary depending on your breed and on the quality of your dog. Dogs with health clearances as well as titles will be more desirable, as mentioned earlier, and will be in higher demand…hence, their stud fees will be higher. In addition, I should stress again that only dogs with desirable traits and clearances should be bred.

In general, there are often two different ways to determine the price of your stud fee and these are:

  • A set total which equals the price of one puppy.
  • The choice of pick puppy back from the litter.

Stud dog owners are not obligated to pay for any of the cost of breeding or getting the female to the stud dog. In addition, they are not obligated to pay any vet costs or costs to raise and register the puppies.

In addition to the set fee, the owner of the bitch should be responsible for transportation of the bitch to the stud as well as any fees. This includes collection from the stud dog to shipping a collection to a bitch that is too far away to travel to the stud.

Although you can indicate that the bitch owner must reimburse you for the collection fees, today with credit cards and FedEx, there really is no reason for a stud dog owner to pay out of pocket for a breeding. If you choose to be reimbursed be very clear that vet and collection costs for the breeding will be added to the final cost of the breeding.

When to Collect the Stud Fee

This should be indicated not only in your contract but also on your stud dog advertising. Everyone views stud fee collections differently and the very first thing that I recommend you do is try to find out what the standard practice is within your breed.

My recommendation is to take a non-refundable deposit at the time of breeding that is about ¼ of your standard fee. For instance, a $2000 stud fee would be a $500 non-refundable deposit. Regardless of whether there is a litter, the deposit is never refunded as this covers your time and expenses if you must travel at all.

In the event that a litter is produced, collection of the remaining amount is done once the litter is born or by the time the litter is 8 weeks of age.

A great way to protect yourself and your stud program during this time is to not sign off on the registration papers for the puppies until the fee is paid in full at 8 weeks or sooner.

Obviously, if you are choosing pick of the litter, you would need to wait until the puppies are 8 weeks of age to collect your dog stud fee.

The Lexicon of Stud Terminology

Finally, now that we’ve looked at the stud contract, it is important to have an understanding of some of the key words used in the breeding world in regard to stud dogs. These words or terminologies should be used in a contract to ensure that the contract is well researched and intelligently crafted. If you don’t understand the terminology, you are going to have a difficult time proving to other breeders that you are a reputable and serious breeding service.

  • Artificial Insemination: Introducing semen into the bitch by artificial means.
  • Bitch: A female dog
  • Certificate: A document issued to someone who registers a dog for said dog.
  • Collection: When semen is collected from a dog, usually through artificial means for AI.
  • Condition: Overall health of the dog.
  • Congenital: Conditions that are present at birth and may indicate genetic diseases.
  • Co-owners: When two or more people own the same dog. In this case, both have to sign off on all contracts and registration papers.
  • Crossbred: Breeding two different breeds together. Not accepted by purebred dog registries.
  • Dam: A mother of a litter.
  • Date of Mating: Used to reference the first mating to determine gestation and when whelping should begin.
  • Dog: Male dog but is also used as a general term for all dogs regardless of sex.
  • Gestation Period: The time the dam is pregnant; usually 63 days.
  • Heat Cycle: The period of time when the bitch is willing to breed.
  • Inbreeding: Breeding between closely related family members; i.e.: mother to son, father to daughter.
  • In Whelp: Pregnant
  • Kennel: A building or location where dogs are housed.
  • Lease: When a dog’s breeding rights are given to another person other than the owner for a short period of time.
  • Line Breeding: Breeding between family members; i.e.: aunt to nephew, grandparent to grandchild.
  • Litter: A group of puppies born from the same pregnancy.
  • Litter Owner: The owner of the bitch at the time of whelp.
  • Mate: Breeding two dogs together.
  • Outcrossing: breeding two dogs who are not related.
  • Registration: The process of registering with a Kennel Club for purebred dogs.
  • Sire: The father of a litter.
  • Stud: A male dog that is used for breeding.
  • Tie: When the dog’s penis swells at the base during intercourse and the swelling prevents the dogs from moving away from each other.
  • Whelp: Labor; the act of giving birth.

There are hundreds of other words regarding breeding and the dog world and I strongly recommend that you continue to learn everything you need to know about it as you grow as a breeder.

As you can see, a lot goes into a contract and you should start considering this well before you even write it. Starting with the right stud not only ensures that your stud is used, it also gives you more room to have the contract you want. In addition, knowing the rules around breeding, and understanding what you want to offer will ensure a smooth transaction every time you offer your stud up for service.

In the end, the contract will keep you, your clients and your stud well protected and will be a cornerstone of your successful breeding program.