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.

More about the Apprentice Position.

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?

Dogs are evaluated for service as Guides, Service, Therapy, Companion or Detector Dogs. If it is determined that they are inappropriate for these careers, the dogs are first offered to their Puppy Walkers, the family who raised the dog as a puppy. Retired dogs are first offered to our graduate's family, and then to the Puppy Walker. The Foundation once maintained a waiting list of those interested in adopting a “career change” dog. The demand for these wonderful dogs far exceeded the supply. So few dogs became available to the public that our waiting list exceeded 500 applications. As a result, the Foundation no longer accepts applications for adopted dogs.

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.