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 that thrived on praise. With that in mind, GDB’s specialized breeding program was started in the late 1940s in an effort to ensure consistent production of dogs with desirable traits.
Our breeding stock dogs live as family pets in loving volunteer custodial homes located within a 50-mile radius of our San Rafael, California campus.
Labrador Retrievers have proven to have the most success worldwide as guides; at GDB, Labradors constitute the largest percentage of our breeding colony. We also have a smaller percentage of Golden Retrievers and Lab/Golden crosses as well. These breeds offer enough variation to fill the myriad needs of our clients, 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 easy-to-care-for double coats
The vast majority of our dogs are bred from our own specially-selected stock, but a percentage are donated from other schools, through international exchange programs, and other means.
The dogs in our breeding colony and all of their puppies are cared for by our team of experts including full-time veterinarians and technicians, staff neonatal and breeding specialists, consulting allied professionals, and volunteers.