May 13th, 2021
3 min read

The Journey of Becoming a Breeder Dog

Uzette, a female black Lab, facing sideways and looking towards nature.

Within the guide dog community, a few dogs become breeders for GDB to create the next generation of wonderful guide dogs. Jade LaBossier explains how Uzette, a female Labrador she and her family raised, became one of these special breeders for GDB. Fun fact: Uzette is the mother of Titan!

At first, GDB breeder dogs are like any other puppy in training. Uzette was raised and trained from 10 weeks old to 15 months old when it was her turn to be recalled to GDB’s San Rafael, CA campus for formal training. At the campus, Uzette first went through a rigorous physical examination with veterinarians to assess her health to make sure she was free from current ailments or those she might develop in the future. Notably, dogs go through a heart and eye evaluation, along with both hip and elbow x-rays, a routine physical exam, and blood work. Other dogs in the same litter are also evaluated to ensure there are no underlying health issues among related dogs.

The Labossier family with one of Uzette's litters.

Uzette also underwent basic training and evaluations. In addition to the dogs being well rounded, confident, and calm, they must be comfortable with the kennel environment and handling. Because of her good health and at campus, it was determined that she was a great candidate for the breeding program.

Dogs must have specific qualities and characteristics to qualify as a breeder. As mentioned they must have perfect health with no genetic issues that might be passed on to their offspring. In addition to meeting the basic behavioral criteria of a guide dog, they must be calm when dealing with handlers and other animals, and not exhibiting any other negative traits, such as being distracted by traffic, water, moving objects, and other animals that could disqualify their offspring from becoming guides.

A chocolate lab puppy from Uzette's litter, looking at the camera.

If a dog meets all of these qualifications, they can officially become a breeder. Depending on the female, they will have slightly different breeding schedules, but one dog will typically be a breeder for approximately three years, with a litter every other cycle. Uzette had 3 litters, each one year apart.

At first, Jade was a little bit disappointed to find out that Uzette had become a breeder instead of a guide dog, but was honored to have raised her nonetheless. “I felt like we had raised a dog that will be quite an asset for the club.” Jade says. The LaBoissers also had the chance to see Uzette’s puppies: “We were able to go down and see her first litter, and it was so fun being with all of her puppies!”

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