One of our most critical tasks is selecting the next generation of breeding dogs, which is why almost all of the puppies in our Puppy Raising Program remain reproductively intact until they take their IFT.
When evaluating a dog as a breeder, we consider his or her health history and temperament, as well as the health and temperament of all the littermates. Dogs chosen as Guiding Eyes breeders will meet the standards for each trait that a guide dog needs, and contribute to improvement in one or more traits so that the next generation is even better.
Process for Breed Evaluation
Only one-third of the dogs selected for breeding evaluation actually become Guiding Eyes breeders. There are multiple steps in the process, which typically takes 3 to 4 months to complete.
- Identifying candidates: Our database identifies dogs from superior litters based on their genetic values for health and temperament criteria.
- Dogs chosen for breed evaluation: Dogs that do well at the IFT test, their kennel experience, and veterinary exam have further health, reproductive, and behavior assessments at the Canine Development Center (CDC). The best are held until the litter information is available. A limited number of ideal dogs have dual careers by having semen stored for future use before they are returned to training.
- Breed evaluation completion: Littermates of dogs in breeding evaluation are observed through their second month of training to verify that the positive traits observed in the potential breeder are consistently present throughout the litter. This indicates that the breeder will produce the desired traits more consistently in its offspring. Once the evaluation of littermates is completed, a final decision is made as to whether a breed evaluation dog shall be retained as a member of the breeding colony. Breed evaluation dogs that are not selected for breeding are moved into training.
- Placement of breed dogs: During the breed evaluation period, a candidate may be placed with a brood stud foster sitter who lives locally to the CDC. The foster sitter may or may not receive permanent placement with a breeding dog. Once the decision is made to make the dog a brood or stud within our breeding colony, the dog will be placed with a foster family meeting a number of eligibility requirements.
Keeping in Touch
When a pup is being evaluated for the breeding program, Guiding Eyes is mindful of a raiser’s desire to stay connected during the various phases of this career path.
- During breed evaluation: The Region Team will keep the raiser updated while the dog is being evaluated for breeding.
- During active breeding years: When the dog is placed with a brood/stud foster, Guiding Eyes will arrange an exchange of contact information between the raiser and the foster. Before placement, the foster agrees to maintain contact with the dog’s raiser and share information on the dog’s progress over time. A complimentary 8 x 10 portrait of the dog wearing a harness without the handle − a special designation of breeding status − will be sent to the raiser, (as well as to any official vet or food sponsors for the dog).
- During Retirement: Raisers are notified when the dog they raised retires from the breeding colony. If the dog has been a breeder for more than 12 months, the foster family will be given first option to adopt the dog. You can review the Brood Stud Retirement page for information on placement policies after retirement.