Unlike many service dog programs, Hero Dogs, Inc. does not have its own breeding program. We do not currently have the resources to support such a venture. Therefore, we rely on donations of puppies from reputable breeders – thank you!
We are looking for breeders whose priorities are the health, temperament, working ability, and longevity of their dogs. The job of a service dog is a very difficult one and it takes a remarkable dog to do it. A service dog needs to be:
- impeccably friendly, yet able to ignore people when working
- calm enough to wait quietly with his partner for long periods, yet willing to go to work in an instant when needed
- confident in new situations, yet responsive to someone who may have little or no physical control over him
- an able and willing retriever
Only dogs who come from long lines of confident, yet calm and focused, working dogs and who receive critical handling and social and environmental stimulation in their first weeks of life have a chance of becoming service dogs.
We use primarily golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers and have recently introduced three additional breeds into our program – Spinone Italiano, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, and a German Shepherd. They are in general the right size, interested in putting things in their mouths, gregarious, and easy to motivate and train. Of course, many other breeds can be these things too, so we never really know what the next remarkable dog we find may be. However, we do not use dogs with coats which require extensive or professional grooming (for example, poodles or poodle mixes), dogs with extremely heavy or thick coats (like a Samoyed or Akita), or brachycephalic (i.e., short face) dogs (such as a boxer).
The qualities we desire in the sire and dam are:
- never met a person s/he didn’t like
- sociable to other dogs
- not sound sensitive
- unafraid of virtually anything
- able to be touched and handled everywhere, even by a stranger
- happy to put things in his/her mouth and equally happy to give them up
- eager to work with a human
- health clearances (at least three generations):
- orthopedic clearances (OFA or PennHip) on hips and elbows
- CERF and cardiac clearances
- other breed-specific clearances (such as EIC and CNM in retrievers, CEA in herding breeds, VWD or thyroid in some others, etc.)
- working titles (e.g. CGC, obedience, rally, agility, field)
The qualities we seek in the puppies are:
- whelped and raised in the house
- daily handling from birth
- exposed to and handled by many people of all ages (including children), shapes, sizes, and colors
- exposed to a large variety of sounds (both “indoor” and “outdoor” noises) from three weeks onward
- provided with environment stimulation in the form of different types and textures of objects to play with, walk on, and climb on or in
- exposed to numerous environments, including a crate, riding in the car, and a wide variety of indoor and outdoor locations
- introduced to grooming rituals
- allowed to copy adult dogs in learning appropriate toilet habits
- natural ears and tail (this makes public access for our clients much less difficult)
- highly sociable and confident around new things
- approximately 8-10 weeks old
We realize that breeders who are conscious of all of these things love their breed. We understand your commitment to your puppies and their futures, and we are cognizant of how much we are asking in requesting a donation of a puppy from one of your litters.
It’s hard to express what a service dog means to his partner, and what your contribution to that person’s life would be. You have raised dogs for many years and you know the special bond you achieve with a working dog partner. Imagine if that dog was your lifeline as well as your companion! Your gift of a puppy could make that happen for one of our heroes. And of course, your kennel would be acknowledged on our website and in our promotional materials.
We would love the opportunity to tell you more about our program and goals and about the life your puppy would lead. Thank you for considering us.
How You Can Help
- If you could donate a well-bred and well-raised puppy that meets the above criteria to our program, now or in the future, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-570-8653.
- If you know a breeder of high quality Labrador or golden retrievers, please refer them to our site to learn more about the Hero Dogs program.