Breeding Dog Holder - Brood (formerly called a Brood Bitch Holder)

To provide a home for a breeding dog - Brood on behalf of Guide Dogs, to take responsibility for her and provide support when she is giving birth.

The time devoted to the role changes and it requires more time when the brood is giving birth.

Volunteering for Guide Dogs has given me a real sense of purpose – and it’s good for meeting people and feeling part of something.”
Liz, Breeding Dog Holder
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Meet Breeding Dog Holder Liz and brood Jackie - mum to Flash!

Liz started volunteering as a Breeding Dog Holder when she took in Jackie, a yellow Labrador selected for our breeding programme. She’s already helped Jackie deliver 26 puppies - and says it’s an incredibly rewarding experience that she would recommend to anyone. 

To know that this little puppy called Flash that was born in our kitchen will go on to play such an important role for Guide Dogs – it just makes me feel so proud.

"When I first heard about the role I thought it could be the perfect fit for me and my family,

We’d been building up to having a family dog for a while, and definitely wanted to have a dog in the house. I’m also a full-time mum, and now that my boys are a bit older - they’re now 11 and 15 - I thought it would be good for me to have a role that is important and rewarding. 

It was also in my mind that my Dad’s only got vision in one eye, so I know how a vision impairment can really affect a person."

Getting involved

“After making an initial enquiry I was offered the chance to attend an information day at the Guide Dogs Guide Dogs National Centre . 

It’s a great thing to do because it’s so informative and gives you the insight you need to make a decision - you get videos, talks from the staff and also practical sessions - so you really get a feel for what it could be like to look after a breeding dog.

Soon afterwards I made the application, and after all the necessary checks, which included a visit to our house to check things like our garden and the space we have available for raising a litter, my husband Neil and myself were approved as volunteers.

At that point, the supervisors at Guide Dogs also do a lot of work to partner you with a dog that will suit you and your environment - and I was delighted that it wasn’t long until we got a call to say they had found the perfect match with Jackie.”

Training and support

“Jackie is a beautiful yellow Labrador - and the most wonderful, kind and loving dog. We’re so lucky to have her, she’s really playful, 100% a family dog, and my boys love her to bits. 

Of course it’s also a big responsibility looking after her, which you definitely feel, but I was reassured right from the start by the induction and level of training you get. There’s also a 24/7 support line that you can call anytime if you are worried about anything.

Su, our Breeding Dog Advisor from Guide Dogs, is brilliant. She came to see us regularly when Jackie first arrived. She wanted to check things like whether she would respond to our calls when we let her off the lead for the first time. 

Su still comes to see us often, especially when Jackie is pregnant, and it’s just reassuring to know you’ve got that expert help that’s always there when you need it.”

Jackie’s first litter 

“When Jackie had her first litter; that’s when you really start to learn about the role - but once again the support you get for the birth is fantastic.

Guide Dogs brought us a whelping box and all the equipment you need - absolutely everything from heat lamps and even down to floor cleaner, antibacterial wipes, sanitising sprays and bin bags. 

Su also helped us set everything up and talked us through what we needed to, which proved invaluable when my husband and I ended up helping to deliver her first litter of seven puppies through the night!

The adrenaline was definitely pumping, but we knew we could call the 24-hour support line if we needed.

We didn’t need to call though - it all went well - and it was an amazing feeling when we could finally wash Jackie down and see her clean and happy with her puppies.

We’ve since had two more litters, another of seven puppies and one of 12, and the feeling afterwards has always been the same - amazing.” 

A truly rewarding experience

“Of course there are also challenges. We look after Jackie’s puppies until they are six or seven weeks old and that’s an intense period when you have to be on alert all the time.

Most of the rest of the year we’re much like any other dog owners. We have this lovely, perfectly behaved dog that I’m so happy to say will be with us for the rest of her life.

Personally, I’m getting a lot out of the experience too. It’s given me a real sense of purpose – and it’s good for meeting people and feeling part of something. The team at Guide Dogs arrange gatherings for people doing the same role in the local area, for example, which is great for sharing stories and tips.

If anyone else is thinking about this role I would encourage them to investigate more. You don’t have to have had much experience of raising dogs to apply – we certainly didn’t have much before Jackie – and you get all the training and support you need anyway.

Ultimately, there’s nothing like that feeling when you load the puppies into the Guide Dogs van after six weeks, knowing most of them will go on to make a real difference to people’s lives.

Recently we found out that one of Jackie’s puppies, Flash, has also been selected to star in a video that will help promote Guide Dogs across the country. 

To know that this little puppy that was born in our kitchen will go on to play such an important role for Guide Dogs – it just makes me feel so proud.”

Search for a volunteering opportunity near you

If you think you could become a volunteer breeding dog holder for Guide Dogs, then the next step is to check if there is a opportunity available near you. You can use the search option below to find all volunteering opportunities near you and if you don't see a breeding dog holder option - don't worry! We do update our opportunities all the time so make sure you check back in.