Frequently Asked Questions About
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind

What are the most common breeds of guide dogs?

The most common breeds used by Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind are Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, as well as crosses between these two breeds. We also, occasionally, train German shepherds, labradoodles, and standard poodles.

What makes a good guide dog?

– A high level of willingness to work
– A strong desire to please the user
– A quiet and calm disposition
– A high level of initiative
– A low level of distraction from its work
– A high level of concentration while working

At what age do the dogs begin their training?

Most dogs begin their formal training between fourteen and twenty months of age.

How long does it take to train a guide dog?

It varies from dog to dog, approximately five to eight months.

How long does a person who is blind train with their dog?

A residential training class for the person and dog lasts eighteen days and takes place at the National Training Centre of Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind

At what age does a guide dog retire?

Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind retires guide dogs at a maximum age of eleven. Dogs may retire earlier if they develop health issues or slow down or exhibit guiding behaviour that may become a safety issue for the handler.

An image of a yellow lab sitting with a white Guide Dog harness
An image of a black labrador puppy

What happens to the guide dog when it is retired?

Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind works with each client on an individual basis to determine where the dog will reside upon retirement. We find a loving home for all our dogs in their senior years.

Do guide dogs watch the traffic lights?

No. The decision and responsibility to cross a road lies solely with the guide dog user. The guide dog user is taught how, when and where to cross safely.

When can you pet a guide dog?

If the dog is in harness, it is working and should not be distracted.

Does a guide dog have time to play?

Yes. When a guide dog is out of harness or inside the home it is not working and is treated just like any other pet dog.

Can you give a guide dog treats?

No member of the public should ever feed a guide dog, so that the dog remains in good general health and good condition for its work. The guide dog handler may use a piece of the dog’s regular kibble as a treat or reward, occasionally, but never increases the daily food intake.

How much does the guide dog cost the person who is blind?

The client leases the guide dog for $1.00 from the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. The client is responsible for the care, feeding and veterinary costs, but may apply to Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Veterinary Reimbursement Fund for routine expenses.

How is Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind funded?

Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind operates solely through donations and fundraising. This includes individual and corporate donors, service clubs, foundations, bequests and legacy giving, and in-house and third-party fundraising events.

Frequently Asked Questions About
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind

What are the most common breeds of guide dogs?

The most common breeds used by Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind are Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, as well as crosses between these two breeds. We also, occasionally, train German shepherds, labradoodles, and standard poodles.

What makes a good guide dog?

– A high level of willingness to work
– A strong desire to please the user
– A quiet and calm disposition
– A high level of initiative
– A low level of distraction from its work
– A high level of concentration while working

At what age do the dogs begin their training?

Most dogs begin their formal training between fourteen and twenty months of age.

How long does it take to train a guide dog?

It varies from dog to dog, approximately five to eight months.

How long does a person who is blind train with their dog?

A residential training class for the person and dog lasts eighteen days and takes place at the National Training Centre of Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind

At what age does a guide dog retire?

Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind retires guide dogs at a maximum age of eleven. Dogs may retire earlier if they develop health issues or slow down or exhibit guiding behaviour that may become a safety issue for the handler.

What happens to the guide dog when it is retired?

Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind works with each client on an individual basis to determine where the dog will reside upon retirement. We find a loving home for all our dogs in their senior years.

Do guide dogs watch the traffic lights?

No. The decision and responsibility to cross a road lies solely with the guide dog user. The guide dog user is taught how, when and where to cross safely.

When can you pet a guide dog?

If the dog is in harness, it is working and should not be distracted.

Does a guide dog have time to play?

Yes. When a guide dog is out of harness or inside the home it is not working and is treated just like any other pet dog.

Can you give a guide dog treats?

No member of the public should ever feed a guide dog, so that the dog remains in good general health and good condition for its work. The guide dog handler may use a piece of the dog’s regular kibble as a treat or reward, occasionally, but never increases the daily food intake.

How much does the guide dog cost the person who is blind?

The client leases the guide dog for $1.00 from the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. The client is responsible for the care, feeding and veterinary costs, but may apply to Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Veterinary Reimbursement Fund for routine expenses.

How is Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind funded?

Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind operates solely through donations and fundraising. This includes individual and corporate donors, service clubs, foundations, bequests and legacy giving, and in-house and third-party fundraising events.