While there are many breeds of dogs that could do the work of a Guide Dog, some stand head and shoulders above the rest. In our earliest days, most of our dogs came from animal shelters. It soon became evident that we were looking for something very specific: dogs that not only had excellent health, intelligence and temperament, but also exhibited a willingness to work and thrive on praise.
Our specialized breeding program was started in the late 1940s in an effort to ensure consistent production of dogs with desirable traits. Our dogs also offer enough variation within its respective breed to fill the myriad needs of our students, including:
- Being of a size and weight that are appropriate for working beside a person and riding public transportation
- The ability to live in a variety of climates, thanks to easily-cared-for double coats
Labrador Retrievers have proven to have the most success worldwide as guides; at Guide Dogs, Labradors constitute the largest percentage of our breeding colony. We also have a smaller percentage of Golden Retrievers and we breed Lab/Golden crosses for use in our training program. The vast majority of our dogs are bred from our own specially selected stock, but a percentage are donated from other schools, through international programs, and other means.
From the earliest stages of their lives, our puppies (and their moms) are cared for by a team of experts including full-time veterinarians and technicians supported by consulting specialists and volunteers. As the pups grow, our veterinarians will continue to monitor their health and well-being.