Have you ever wondered where Guide Dog Foundation puppies come from – before they go out as working guides, even before puppies go to puppy raiser families? They come from our very own breeding department.
Male dogs, referred to as “sires,” and female dogs,called “dams” are carefully chosen to be part of the breeding colony from when they are little puppies, and once they are old enough, they undergo several tests to determine if they right to become a breeder dog.
• Not only do we require outstanding heath clearances,but also excellent temperament, behavior, and a desire to work.
• These characteristics will be passed along in their genes, and it is these qualities that make the amazing guide dogs and service dogs you see working in public.
• The dogs in our breeding colony are the “cream of the crop,” as are their puppies!
The dogs we breed at the Foundation have a success rate for guide work that is well over twice that of dogs donated as puppies by breeders or from a shelter because we can go back many generations to assess a dog’s temperament, health, and overall suitability for guide work.
• We have worked and trained with shelter dogs for use as service dogs. In fact, we have several shelter dogs that are currently working as service dogs for disabled veterans. At this time, all of ouor program needs have been met through our on-campus breeding program, and we are unable to accept offers of donated dogs, or shelter dogs.
• We are committed to responsible breeding, and breed only enough dogs for the needs of our programs.
• There are many careers open to our dogs. In addition to becoming guide dogs or service dogs, they can also become detector dogs for law enforcement agencies, physical or occupational therapy dogs to serve in VA or military medical center, or other specialized therapy dogs.
Even more important than our breeding program are our breeder caretakers.
• These exceptional volunteers give loving homes to our sires and dams, which includes feeding, exercising, grooming, and caring for them.
• They also bring them to obedience training sessions throughout the year and transport the dogs to and from campus when their services are required.
All medical checkups and vaccines are given at the Guide Dog Foundation by our veterinarians and kennel staff, who make sure each dog is healthy and happy. And if breeder caretakers go away on vacation, they don’t have to worry about finding someone to watch their breeder. They can make a reservation for a spot in our boarding kennel and enjoy their trip while the dog stays here!
Our breeding colony has over 100 dogs, the majority of which are Labrador Retrievers.
The other breeds we use include:
Standard Poodles - due to high demand, we are not accepting applications for Poodle guides at this time.
These breeds tend to be smart, easy to train, more suitable for assistance dog work and, in some cases, are hypoallergenic(poodles).
To learn more about the Guide Dog Foundation’s breeding, please contact Theresa Manzolillo, Breeding Program Manager, at 631-930-9066, or Kara Hickey, Breeding Technician, at 631-930-9000 x1269 for further information.
Interested volunteers can also fill out the online application to start the process to become one of our elite breeder care takers and join the essential volunteer force that drives the Guide Dog Foundation!
DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION HERE