Retiring a guide dog

We work with our guide dog partnerships to determine the right time for your guide dog to retire. We know it can be a difficult time and decision to make when it comes time to retire your dog. We’re committed to always ensuring every dog receives the highest standards of care.

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When does a guide dog retire? 

You should carefully consider what’s best for your guide dog ahead of their retirement. While many guide dogs retire between ten and eleven years old, this is very much dependent on your dog’s needs and their individual health and wellbeing. We’ll always make sure the decision is in the best interest of your dog.

The main issue to consider is that older dogs need extra care and attention and can develop new health problems. You'll need to think about what will be manageable for you, especially if you have a new younger and working dog in your home.

Remember, keeping a retired dog is not necessarily the best decision for everyone or every dog. There is no right or wrong way. If the right decision for you and your dog is to allow them to go into a new home, please be assured that we’ll support you through the process and make sure your dog is rehomed to a suitable, comfortable, and loving home.

If you have any concerns, please contact our Guide Line service at 0800 781 1444 or

Retirement process

The retirement of every dog will be individual to you and your dog. However, there are some steps that are common:

  1. Our staff will come to visit you more often and your guide dog will have more vet visits as your partnership is beginning to slow down and age, from around 8 years old.
  2. As your partnership ages, we’ll begin to discuss with you what are the best next steps for you and your older dog. For some Guide Dog owners, their retired dogs staying with them as pet dogs is the best thing for both of them, as they can meet all the dogs needs as they age. For others, this may be more challenging and Guide Dogs will support them with finding the perfect retiring home.
  3. If you cannot keep your dog, you can nominate a home (often family members or friends). This nominated home will need to be assessed for the dog’s welfare. If you would like to nominate a home to look after your dog in its retirement, they will need to meet the rehoming eligibility criteria. Please check these before offering a home.
  4. If there’s no nominated home or it’s not suitable, we approach your dog’s past puppy raiser or volunteers who have looked after your dog over a certain amount of time to see if they’re interested in rehoming your retired guide dog.
  5. Otherwise, your dog can be rehomed by the general public full-time into a new loving home.
  6. It’s possible your dog will be with a volunteer or stay with you until their new home is found.
  7. Our staff will work with you to understand if a new guide dog is the right service for your current goals. If you’re still eligible for a guide dog, you’ll be added to our Ready to Train group and our team of Vision Rehabilitation Specialists can support you until you meet your new guide dog.

Have you just lost your dog? Find out how we can help you in this difficult moment.