Guide Dog Foundation

About Us

Frequently Asked Questions

What breeds of dogs does the Guide Dog Foundation use?
When was the Guide Dog Foundation founded?
Are guide dogs allowed in restaurants?
What does it cost to get a guide dog?
How much does it cost to train a guide dog?
How are the dogs’ names selected?
What is a guide dog training "apprentice?"
What exactly is a guide dog trained to do?
What is the blind person taught during training?
Are there things I should or should not do when I am around a guide dog?
What happens to dogs that don’t make it through the training program or are retired? Are they available for adoption?
How many locations/offices does the Guide Dog Foundation have?
Does the Foundation receive a lot of financial support from the government?

What breeds of dogs does the Guide Dog Foundation use?

The Guide Dog Foundation breeds its own dogs. Male and female Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers Lab/Golden crosses, and Standard Poodles are used. The dogs are specially bred for temperament, gentleness, and physical soundness.

When was the Guide Dog Foundation founded?

The Foundation was founded in 1946, in Forest Hills, New York.

Are guide dogs allowed in restaurants?

Guide dogs are allowed everywhere that the general public is allowed to go. This includes restaurants, taxicabs, airplanes, hotels, etc. This right is protected by a federal law called the Americans With Disabilities Act.

What does it cost to get a guide dog?

Our guide dogs are provided free of charge. This includes training, transportation to and from the school, room and board during the 25-day training program, and aftercare services. Home-based, combination home and residential and small group training is offered to qualified applicants.

How much does it cost to train a guide dog?

It costs more than $50,000 to complete the training of one guide dog. This includes all expenses from breeding to raising the dog to training it and matching it with a blind person.

How are the dogs’ names selected?

Dog sponsors, who make a $6,000 donation to the Foundation, can select the name of a puppy. Sponsors can choose a Labrador or a Golden Retriever, male or female. Click here to learn more.

What is a guide dog training "apprentice?"

At the Guide Dog Foundation, an apprentice is a full-time, paid position. To become an apprentice, one must apply just as one would apply for any job. Team members who join the staff as apprentices work their way toward becoming a trainer, and then a certified instructor. Members of the training staff work not only with the dogs, but also with our blind and visually impaired consumers.

What exactly is a guide dog trained to do? 

Guide dogs undergo a comprehensive training program, and only the best of the best complete the training and become working guides. In short, guide dogs are taught how to find and follow a clear path, maneuver around obstacles, and stop at curbs. They follow their teammate's directions, and they know that they can disobey only in the face of danger.

What is the blind person taught during training?

During the training program, blind students first learn about the commands the dog knows. Over a several week period, they are taught everything there is to know about how to work with a guide dog. In addition, they learn about proper care of the dog, which ranges from feeding to grooming to medical issues. Access laws, public awareness and other issues also are covered during the 25-day program.

Are there things I should or should not do when I am around a guide dog?

The general rule is that working guide dogs should be ignored. Distractions take their concentration away from the work they have to do—which can put the dog and its teammate in jeopardy. Do not pet or feed a guide dog and do not encourage the dog to misbehave.

To learn more, click here for "Guide Dog Do’s and Don’ts."

What happens to dogs that don’t make it through the training program or are retired? Are they available for adoption?

When a dog is released or retired from any of our programs due to health, age, or any other reason, the Guide Dog Foundation has a process to ensure they will spend the rest of their lives in a happy home.  

Graduates of the Foundation (or America’s VetDogs) are first given the option to adopt their retiring dog as a companion - they will live in the home of their former partner as a cherished pet.  Some may be placed with family or close friends of the graduate who have been associated with the dog throughout its life.  Sometimes these options are not possible, so the Guide Dog Foundation looks to find another suitable home.  

The retired dog would then return to the care of Guide Dog Foundation, and we first contact the dog’s original Puppy Raisers and ask if they wish to adopt the dog.  If they do not, the dog would then be offered to a prescreened individual from our adoption waiting list who has applied to adopt a dog released from our programs.  Currently there is a wait-list to adopt a “career change” dog or retired guide or service dog.

If a dog is released, and it is determined to not be suitable for one of our programs, we first consider placing it with a carefully selected partner organization where it might be better suited for work. Examples of the other types of work our dogs may do include explosives detection, accelerant detection, or assistance work that is outside the scope of our currently offered services.

Some of our dogs will best thrive as family pets.  If this is the case, the dog may be placed in a loving home with the puppy raiser family that raised it or with one of the families who have applied to adopt a career change dog.

We are currently accepting applications for our Special Needs adoption program.  Dogs available through this program include retired dogs 9 years or older, and younger dogs that have a medical or behavioral condition that requires special attention (for example, a dog with allergies or a dog that is afraid of children).

Due to the length of the wait for a non-special-needs career change dog, we are unable to accept any applications for our general adoption list at this time.  If and when general adoption applications are being accepted, we will update this information in our Guideway newsletter and our web page.  Click here to subscribe to Guideway. 

How many locations/offices does the Guide Dog Foundation have?

The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind’s headquarters and 8 acre campus are located on Long Island, near New York City. We currently have regional staff based in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina, and the list is growing. We service all of the United States, Canada and Mexico and currently also have graduates from Brazil, Israel and El Salvador. We have expanded home and small group training in other regions in both for guide dogs, and Trekker. Besides geographical advantages, this can allow people to combine training with other activities, and allows people with some physical limitations to work in a small class setting and still have interaction with other students.

Does the Foundation receive a lot of financial support from the government?

The Foundation receives no government funding. We rely on the generous contributions of individuals, corporations, foundations, businesses, and service/fraternal clubs.