Guiding Eyes dogs are purpose-bred for the superior health and the temperament needed for guide work.
As a global leader in breeding and genetics, Guiding Eyes employs industry best practices in our approach to continually improving the health, temperament, and success of our dogs. Our data-driven approach, together with our partnerships with other guide dog organizations, specialists, and universities helps to promote genetic diversity and ensure that each generation of dogs is better than the one before.
Guiding Eyes staff in the Genetics & Breeding department utilize data, called Estimated Breeding Values, to determine which dogs join the breeding program to produce the next generation of guide dogs and to match broods (moms) and studs (dads) together for litters by taking into account a variety of variables.
Whelping is the exciting process of giving birth to a litter of puppies. About four weeks after breeding, broods are brought to the Whelping Kennel to verify that they are pregnant. The gestation period for dogs is 63 days. The pregnant brood will return home for almost five weeks, and then will be brought back to the Canine Development Center close to her expected whelp (birth) date.
When the whelp begins, the brood and her pups are closely monitored by our specially trained whelping staff, with staff veterinarians on call to assist. Our average litter size is seven puppies, and they may be born as slowly as one per hour or as quickly as one every 15 minutes.
Newborn puppies are checked daily once born to ensure they are gaining weight, and are given supplemental feeding if necessary. Guiding Eyes staff names the puppies, with each litter receiving names that begin with their designated letter of the alphabet. The pups wear a collar with their name on it, and when they start hearing at three weeks of age, they are called by name.
Some litters leave the Canine Development Center with their mothers after one week and are raised until six weeks of age in a volunteer’s home under the Home Litter Care Program. Most litters and broods remain at the whelping kennel until weaning time, when the pups are around five weeks old and the brood is able to return to her foster home.