A) Acquire adult dogs from established IGDF members or reliable sources 

Starting with the best dogs possible will minimize the costs by training dogs that have fewer health and temperament problems. It is recommended that new guide dog organisations obtain dogs from reliable sources where the dogs have a proven history of success as guide dogs. Getting dogs from local breeders and pet owners is another option. It may be less efficient and more costly overall since it is likely that the success rate of the dogs will be lower, wasting the resources put into the raising and training of these dogs. There are substantial costs in obtaining and supervising puppy raisers, providing medical care and training dogs. Staff salaries for trainers and instructors and costs of dog care and client follow-up are the largest expense of running a guide dog organisation. Therefore, it is wise to invest these resources into dogs that are more likely to be successful.  

IGDF member organisations may sell adult dogs suitable for training. The organisation providing the dogs will most likely have requirements that you will need to agree to. The requirements may vary, but all providers will need you to demonstrate that your organisation consistently provides proper veterinary care, exercise, kind treatment, suitable housing while in training and that clients also provide for these needs once the dog graduates.   

The providing school will also likely require that you provide communication and feedback on how the dog is doing in training and after placement with a client for their own information and possibly to pass the information to the volunteer puppy raiser who raised the dog. In addition, they will expect you to provide important temperament and health data on these dogs, which is used to monitor and improve the genetic quality of their dogs. Also expect to pay for the dog’s quarantine health clearance, transportation, crate and other expenses related to shipping a dog.  

Instead of selling dogs, some organisations may consider resource exchanges, either at the same time or sometime in the future such as supplying an adult breeding animal in year 1, with an agreement that when established. the school reciprocates (perhaps 5 years later). It is possible your organisation may have something else to offer that would be of benefit to the established organisation.  


B) Purchase puppies from established IGDF members 

When your organisation has developed to the point of establishing a Puppy Raising Programme, it is suggested you obtain puppies from IGDF member organisations.  

If obtaining adult dogs from established organisations is difficult due to cost or lack of availability of adult dogs, consider obtaining puppies. It is much easier to provide puppies because there is no puppy raiser involved. The negative side of obtaining puppies is that less is known about the eventual health and temperament of the dog when it matures. 


C) Breeding your own dogs 

It is recommended that you do not try to establish a breeding programme of your own until you have developed the infrastructure needed to establish and maintain a breeding colony and puppy raising programme. Ideally your organisation will become self-sufficient as soon as possible. However, it may take multiple years after you start the organisation to: 

  • Develop relationships with appropriate sources for dogs so you have a reliable source for breeding stock that could meet your needs when you are ready to establish a breeding colony. 
  • Build your organisation infrastructure, including funding, facilities, staffing and need for enough dogs to allow a minimum, sustainable colony of breeders which is 20 bitches and 5 males of the same breed.  
  • Establish relationships with other IGDF member organisations to later develop a cooperative breeding group if your need for dogs is less than the number required for a sustainable colony. 
  • Establish a Puppy Raising Programme to properly raise puppies. 
  • Develop staff skills to manage a breeding programme.

Education of breeding managers from new guide dog organisations can be accomplished through: 

  • The IGDF Breeders Manual available free through IGDF to members; 
  • Mentorship with the breeding manager at the accredited IGDF member organisation(s) with which you have developed a relationship; 
  • Periodic IGDF and/or IWDBA (International Working Dog Breeding Association www.iwdba.org) workshops designed for this purpose. 


Training manuals and other documentation on this topic may be acquired through the IGDF or its Members. There is an extensive Breeders Manual on the IGDF website, accessible through an enquiry to the IGDF office or Development Committee.  

Refer to IGDF Standard 4 Breeding & Dog Supply

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Section 6. Puppy raising programme