I think we touched on this a while back w/ the poodle at Westminster that was sired by a dog that had been deceased for 20 years. I've been looking at some breeder sites and have noticed that one dog appears over and over in many pedigrees. On another forum a breeder posted about looking for unrelated lines in Europe and this dog appears in the pedigrees there as well. There is a site that lists pedigrees for this breed and this dog has sired at least 98 pups, in at least 6 countries. I looked at a Swedish breeder's site and she too has many dogs w/ this multiple Westminsteer group winner in their pedrigee. I've also noticed this dog died at 7 years of age, which is concerning to me. One of his pups went on to win the group at least once at Westminster and I'm sure he has sired many pups himself.
(I'm especially interested to know what Abbylynne has to say.)
I have noticed the same thing in certain breeds, some studs are over used IMO. I also found it is Shibas when they were first being imported to north america. And in a few years no one will know how much this dog was used because he will be so far back in the pedigrees.
That's kind of a loaded question. And the answer has a lot of conditions to it.
My views on a stud dog are that the first thing you pay attention to is the overall health, temperament, and structure of the family tree. His qualities come to the table - but the contributions he's going to make to the breed don't come from his titles. The Westminster winner doesn't necessarily mean he'll be an excellent producer just because he was a stellar show dog. What he brings to the table come from his genetic capabilities - which mean every dog behind him has a say...
A lot banks on the honesty of the breeders behind your stud choice BUT I also won't work with people I don't trust. Part of why I show and am a member of a breed club is because being a part of the Sheltie community gives you access to a lot of crucial knowledge you don't get otherwise. Having a good working relationship with other breeders pays off in spades.
Back to the question at hand... You have to know what a stud choice brings to the table. His offspring need to be evaluated as well as him as a dog. I don't mind using a dog who has never sired a litter - but I'll use him once or twice and wait until my pups have grown before I'll go back to him as an option. I want to see the product.
One of our breeds top stud dogs is Am/Can Ch. Apple Acres Odyssey Armani ROM. Armani is present in almost every AOAC (Any Other Allowed Color - essentially meaning "not sable") pedigree. Most of my breeding program is based on Armani linebreedings as are the breeding programs of most of the people I work closely with. I had the good fortune of breeding the very last litter out of Armani before he was neutered at 12 years old - he is owned by a close friend of mine, thus I've gotten to go over him and interact with him. At almost 14 years old he is active, bouncy, happy, and in perfect health.
Armani was the 1997 ASSA Winner's Dog at our National. However, Armani never won a specialty Best of Breed other than that. He, as a dog, has been the highlight of one of my close friends breeding careers. Even more outstanding than Armani the showdog has been Armani the producer... he went on to be the 2003 ASSA Stud Dog Class Winner (in the Stud Dog class they don't look at the dog - they look at the quality and consistancy of his get/offspring - it was that same year that one of his daughters was the Winner's Bitch at our National)... he stands at, I believe 40+ champion offspring to date. He sired his first litter at about 18 months of age and his last litter RIGHT before he turned 12.
He not only passed every test that his owner could do (outside of normal "breed specific" testing- hips, eyes, thyroid, Vwd - his owner opted to do some additional testing as well). He is strong for producing kids with OFA Excellent graded hips - and I don't believe any of his offspring have not passed OFA (I'd have to verify that with his owner... but I'm relatively certain). Health problems are almost non existant - if not totally non existant - in his kids. He's strong for that as well.
When you have a dog who is sound, healthy, with a great temperament, exceptional structure - and is strong for those things... I don't see a problem in them getting used a lot - but the key is KNOWING that before you make that choice for them to inpact the breed heavily. I would HATE to see a dog that present in a pedigree that is only 4 or 5 years old. And young studs shouldn't be used heavily until you see what happens with their kids and how they grow up.
And again - their career as a show dog isn't what I look for. I DO prefer to use boys who are finished - BUT I'm willing to use a boy who isn't done yet once or twice while he's being shown IF he is quality and if he has something I want in the breeding (I actually just had the first 2 litters out of an Armani son who is just starting in the ring... his testing is done, he's mature, he has a stunning, sound body, pretty face, and great attitude - he WILL finish baring injury or a unforseen disaster and his balance and structure isn't something I see in a lot of other dogs out there right now).
Honestly, having been to our National - I've gone over top winning dogs I would NEVER breed to. Once I lay hands on them and see a couple of their kids... I wouldn't breed to them if someone paid me to. But it's a personal choice - and what I consider important in my program isn't necessarily what everyone considers important.
It's about knowledge and quality. If you have a dog that died at 7 and is filling up pedigrees... THAT is scary... a dog who sired for 11 years... THAT makes sense to me. Some of Armani's best get were whelped when he was 6, 7, 8, 9 years old. And his impact was perpetuated by the fact that his kids are also excellent producers. As are his grandkids. He stamped some outstanding traits into his offspring that he was STRONG for. It's hard to come by a great shoulder layback in our breed anymore... and you can tell an Armani offspring when you feel that fantastic layback that almost everything coming down from him has.
And it's making smart breeding choices to start with... Unfortunately, some breeds limit their gene pool so effectively that what is left quality wise is a handful of choices.
How much is too much... it depends on the breeding... You have to play in the other guests invited to the party. You don't want to line breed on a dog with a specific fault when you know that fault is present in a fair number of the other dogs in the pedigree. You CAN paint yourself into a corner. I'll do a tight linebreeding on Armani... but I know anything I keep from that breeding will need to be outcrossed (you have to go elsewhere eventually). It's hard for me to imagine having everything in your breed related. My breed is SO diverse in types and lines... some families have nothing in common at all. Enough so that most Sables and AOAC's are very very different Shelties...
And in my own head, I'm looking at the big picture with stud choices. I am NOT a flavor of the month type person. I won't breed to a top winning stud dog just because he's a top winning stud dog... He has to have something I want in my program (structure, head detail, attitude....). And he has to be healthy... from a healthy family....