What breeds of dogs do you use and why?
How many puppies are typically in your program?
Do you use crossbred dogs or rescue dogs?
How often/How many times do you breed your dogs?
What happens to your breeding dogs after they retire?
Do you ever sell any of your puppies?
Where are your puppies born?
Do you accept donated puppies or young adult dogs?
OccuPaws uses mostly English Bloodline Labrador Retrievers, but we do have Standard Poodles and an occassional Golden Retriever. The dogs we select are quiet, stable, eager to please puppies from reputable breeders with clear health histories back several generations. Labs have among the highest success rates in guide dog work.
Since our goal is to place 4-6 teams a year, we need about 18 to 24 puppies of all ages, so that we have a continuing supply of “prospective” puppies for our trainer to evaluate. Not all dogs meet the very strict criteria to become a guide dog, so we need 2-4 puppies maturing every couple months to have available for our trainer to work with.
We do not use rescue or mixed breed dogs. Because of the substantial time and cost to raise a potential guide dog, we must be certain the health, temperament, and physical structure of the dog is well suited to guide work. Many times the health history of parents and grandparents of a rescue or mixed breed dog is unknown.
For our internal breeding program, females are not bred until two years of age and then only every other heat cycle for a maximum of 4 litters.
Breeding females normally live with a foster family or with our breeder before retiring at around age 6. They are then placed either with their foster family or a lucky applicant as a permant family member.
Normally we like to retain all the puppies, but on occasion we may have too many puppies or too few raisers and may trade puppies with another service dog organization (receiving one at a later time) or sell a few.
The puppies are normally either born at the breeding female foster family home or at our breeder’s home. Sometimes if the mother is having difficulty, they may be born in the Veterinarian’s office.
Yes, we accept both puppies and young adults, if they are purebred, have clear family health histories, and come from quality breeders with a history of producing sound dogs.