Selection and monitoring of breeding stock

Crucial to the success of any breeding programme is the quality of the stock brought in to replace stock that retire or are removed. It is Guide Dogs' aim to ensure the selection process is rigorous and comprehensive, so that only the very best dogs are added to the programme, in terms of both health and temperament. To this end we have dedicated staff whose role it is to supervise this process throughout each stage of assessment.

All new (and existing) breeding stock require regular monitoring on an ongoing basis and a formalised process is used to facilitate such monitoring in an efficient and effective way. A Breed Review meeting takes place monthly to review all our breeding stock, their progeny and ancestors. This enables us, in a formal context, to discuss issues and make decisions relating to all our stock, while in possession of all the necessary and relevant information, ensuring we establish sensible and pragmatic management of the programme. It is attended by experienced and specialist staff and advisors including the Head of Breeding Operations, Canine and Breeding Services Advisors, Breed Stock Selection Manager, Dog Care and Welfare Manager and Chief Veterinary Consultant.

Retired Breeding Stock – next steps

When we need to make the decision to retire a breeding male or female from the breeding programme, there is a careful process of assessment that follows in order to determine the best path for each individual dog. This takes into account the health and welfare of the dog and is in collaboration with professional staff/advisors and the volunteers involved in their care. In the first instance, where possible from a health, temperament and age perspective, we will seek to place the dog back into training, making excellent use of a precious canine resource or consider its use as a potential Buddy Dog. If this is not possible, we may consider liaising with other Assistance Dog Charities to determine if the dog may offer qualities that will be useful to that organisation and provide a valuable service to someone in need. If the dog is unsuitable for any of these options, we may rehome the dog to previous volunteer carers if that is what they would like, or find an alternative pet home from a carefully vetted list of potential rehomers.