Breeding code of ethics

Guide Dogs has a Breeding Code of Ethics which outlines its ethical standpoint relating to breeding practices and emphasises our commitment to the Health and Welfare of all our Breeding Stock.

Guide Dogs is committed to following best practice in the care and welfare of all its breeding stock.

We will always work to serve the best interests of each dog and believe that our dogs should all enjoy the care, respect and understanding that they deserve and require. We will never forget that our dogs are our partners in the work we do.

We recognise our responsibilities under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and will keep abreast of current knowledge, always upholding the highest standards.

Guide Dogs does not require a license under the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018 (Schedule 1, Part 1 a) but adheres to all health and welfare aspects relevant to our operational methods and organisational structure. 


Specifically Guide Dogs will:

  • Maintain the best possible standards of health and quality of life for their guide dog mums and dads
  • Breed only from carefully selected dogs based on extensive analysis of behavioural and health data from ancestors, siblings and progeny to ensure animals are suitable for breeding
  • Ensure that any dog to be used for breeding is continuously checked for good health, is free from infection and in good condition at the time of mating
  • Take full advantage of all relevant health screening processes, including genetic tests as appropriate and available, including hip, elbow and shoulder radiographs, eye tests and heart screens
  • Not breed from a dog where this could in any way be harmful to the dog or the breed
  • Carefully plan all matings to primarily ensure optimal health and temperamental welfare of each individual guide dog dad, guide dog mum and their potential progeny, whilst taking into consideration organisational and breeding programme needs
  • Only breed guide dog mums between the age of 19 months and seven years; we will not breed from any mums once they have reached eight years of age. No mum will whelp before she is 20 months old, unless there are exceptional circumstances and then only if she is considered mature enough to raise a litter of puppies. No mum shall whelp a litter after her eighth birthday
  • Only use guide dog dads after 18 months of age and aim to retire them no later than nine years of age
  • Rehome retired breeding dogs with care and consideration to the individual dog’s well-being and welfare. This will normally be with the existing volunteer carer
  • Monitor carefully the level of genetic diversity within the breeding population and monitor coefficients of inbreeding for individual mating pairs
  • Only consider a consecutive season mating in the middle of a guide dog mum's breeding career, to ensure that litters are delivered at the peak of a mum's reproductive fitness. A consecutive season breeding will only be considered providing a satisfactory veterinary assessment has been conducted, confirming mum is in good health
  • Ensure guide dog mums will have a maximum of four litters
  • Retire all guide dog mums that have required two caesareans
  • Take every possible care as to the placement of puppies it has bred with puppy walking families, to ensure the transition from nest to the new home is as efficient and trauma free as possible
  • Help with rehoming any dogs bred that are unsuccessful in the guide dog training programme
  • Work closely and in consultation with The Kennel Club and observe, where appropriate and reasonable to do so, the current regulations and advice relating to breeding practices and welfare, including the Kennel Club’s ‘General Code of Ethics’