On average, a guide dog mum comes into season every seven months and is normally mated every other season. There are several factors for us to consider when deciding whether a guide dog mum should be mated, assuming she is in good health. Once we’ve established a guide dog mum is to be mated, extensive research is carried out to select an appropriate partner and this is married to the guide dog mum with reference to her own qualities.

Blood samples are taken from a guide dog mum due for mating to evaluate the progesterone levels, which rise at the point of ovulation, so we know she is ready for mating. While we always try to effect natural mating wherever possible, at times it is necessary to artificially inseminate. We are proud that our conception rates remain consistently high at over 95%.

At approximately 4-5 weeks post mating, the guide dog mum is checked for pregnancy using an ultrasound scanner and to determine the number of pups expected. The average gestation period is 63 days and our average litter size seems to be on the rise, currently at 7.6.