Our Breeding Program
Have you ever wondered where Guide Dog Foundation puppies come from – before they go out as working guide or service dogs, even before puppies go to puppy raiser families? They come from our very own breeding department.
Choosing the Right Dogs
Male dogs, referred to as “sires,” and female dogs, called “dams” are carefully chosen to be a part of the proven breeding colony from when they are little puppies. Once they are old enough, they will undergo a detailed evaluation to determine if they qualified to become a breeder dog for the Foundation. Not only do we require outstanding health 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 and service dog work that is well over twice that of dogs donated as puppies by breeders or from a shelter. By breeding our own dogs, we have a proven history that goes back many generations to assess a dog’s temperament, health, and overall suitability for guide and service work. We have worked and trained with shelter dogs for use as service dogs, and we have several shelter dogs that are currently working as service dogs for disabled veterans. The Foundation is committed to responsible breeding, and we 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.
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 for dogs within our program are given at the Guide Dog Foundation by our veterinarians and kennel staff, who make sure each dog is healthy and happy. If breeder caretakers go away on vacation, they don’t have to worry about finding someone to watch their breeder dog. They can make a reservation for a spot in our boarding kennel and enjoy their trip while the dog stays here! To learn more about being a Volunteer Breeder Caretaker, CLICK HERE.
Our breeding colony has over 100 dogs, the majority of which are Labrador Retrievers.
The other breeds we use include:
- Golden Retrievers
- Standard Poodles
- Lab/Golden crosses
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 ext. 1269 for further information.