Meaningful health testing cannot be done until at least two years old, so that's generally the minimum age. The long answer, though, is at whatever age he's been screened for the primary genetic health concerns in the breed (with repeated screening as applicable), evaluated by a number of qualified objective parties for correct structure and temperament, and is mentally mature enough to be used at stud (not all of them are 'there' yet at two).
Hip x-rays are generally two years for all breeds that have hip issues (Labs definitely qualify!). There is a different x-ray method called PennHip that can be done much earlier, but overall most breeders seem to be waiting until at least two years for "final" clearance either way. Some breeds consider AS screening final at one year, rather than two. Other breeds have different conditions so different tests; some are one-time, some are annual, it really depends on the breed and the condition.
Hanna and Jennifer..I was wondering if you could also put the information on age specifications because an inmature dog may have low sperm counts, making the mating not worth the efforts ( in the Boxer breed specifically ).
We waited for my first bitch's mate to get beyond the 2 years for the exact reasons you both state above, but I always wondered if her throwing two pups was due to an age issue with the male ( They were stunning..but two made me wonder if we should have held them off for at least another year)
I wouldn't think at two years it would be an age-related issue; while most males aren't fully mature at two, they are "mature enough" at that point. Similar to, say, at 16-year-old boy - he's not "full-grown" and probably not ready mentally to be a father, but he sure can get a girl pregnant.
Generally speaking, the bitch determines the number of puppies; in a nutshell, if there's enough sperm for one puppy there's probably enough sperm for 100. (There may be exceptions, of course; dogs with fertility problems or illness or on various medications, and much older males. If the dog is consistently producing small litters bred to a variety of bitches, then that's something to explore - on a one-off breeding it's hard to say.) The bitch only ovulates a certain number of eggs, though, and so she can't have more puppies than that.
Great information Jennifer! I wondered if it was the bitch, or the stud. Just fyi, she was 3, and we did the mating twice..I believe it was like 5 days, and 9-10 days in the cycle ( don't remember as it was several years ago!) The reason I asked was...although there was definate "interest" on the males part...we had to mount him, because he seemed rather lost about the process.. (although..I have seen a male get TOO stimulated..and mount the females HEAD..funny now..not funny then :lol: )
The other odd thing was..I did produce one additional litter..2 seasons later..and she threw 6 pups ( 2 whites..but the breeder actually took a white for a good friend of hers after we had determined there was no hearing issue ). I know Boxers are not usually really large litter breeds, and UGH..6 was PLENTY!! But we used a better bred stud ( lol..and owner), and thats why I asked, as he was 4 also, and the stud owner suggested a third mating, because of the small litter the first time. Her opinion was maybe we just caught her on a non-productive set of days, and it was a better idea to give her one additional mating.
Its good to know that the stud is not the issue in most cases..I suppose its much like women, where we have our fertile days..and days where its pointless..
I have no interest any longer of breeding ( Ashley will be spayed in May ), as I give you kudo's to the effort that goes into it, and she is SO not show quality...but thats not what I bought her for ( spaying= a responsible owner of a pet quality Boxer IMO! ) She is my baby girl..and it matters not what the papers say..just that the breeders took the time to health check!
Thanks again for the info!