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.

Specifically Guide Dogs will:

  • Maintain the best possible standards of health and quality of life for their breeding stock
  • Breed only from sound stock of good temperament
  • Take full advantage of all relevant health screening processes available, including hip, elbow and shoulder radiographs, eye tests and heart screens
  • Ensure that any dog or bitch to be used for breeding is continuously checked for good health, is free from infection and in good condition at the time of mating
  • Provide professional, timely and competent supervision and support of all volunteers attached to the Breeding Programme
  • 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 they have bred that are unsuccessful in the Guide Dog training programme
  • Carefully plan all matings, and while taking into consideration organisational and breeding programme needs, primarily ensure optimal health and temperamental welfare of each individual stud dog, breeding bitch and their potential progeny
  • Only breed from bitches between the age of 19 months and seven years: we will not breed from any bitches once they have reached eight years of age. No bitch will be mated so as to whelp before she is 20 months old, unless there are exceptional circumstances and only then if she is considered mature enough to raise a litter of puppies. No bitch will be mated so as to whelp a litter after her eighth birthday
  • Where consecutive season matings are considered this would normally be in the middle of a bitch's breeding career, to ensure that litters are delivered at the peak of a bitch’s reproductive fitness. Consecutive breeding will only be considered providing a satisfactory veterinary assessment has been conducted, confirming the bitch is in good health
  • Ensure that bitches will normally have a maximum of 4 litters and that no bitch will have more than 5 litters. A 5th litter will be dictated by operational, productive and/or breeding programme/genetic need and will be subject to and conditional upon veterinary advice confirming that the individual’s health and welfare would not in any way be compromised. A vet assessment will confirm the bitch is in good health and only bitches that have had relatively uncomplicated 4th litter whelpings will normally be considered
  • Retire all bitches that have required two caesareans
  • 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
  • Only use stud dogs after 18 months of age and aim to retire them no later than nine years of age
  • Keep accurate breeding records, registration papers, pedigrees and contracts of all dogs it breeds
  • From time to time offer its stud dogs for use on external bitches in accordance with Guide Dogs’ current protocols. A clearly stated agreement on the use of such stud dogs will be agreed by both parties
  • ‘Line breed’ only where this is beneficial to the Guide Dogs breeding programme. Guide Dogs will not breed from a dog or bitch where this could in any way be harmful to the dog or the breed. Guide Dogs does not practice ‘in-breeding’
  • Follow the Kennel Club’s ‘General Code of Ethics’