A wet yellow Labrador stands in water coming up to the middle of his legs. His mouth is open and he is looking off to the side

Adopt a Dog

When a dog is not able to serve as a Leader Dog, we call the dog "career changed." Career changed dogs may go on to "work" in a different job such as a therapy dog, customs dog, search and rescue dog or another service, but others are available for adoption to loving homes.

How to Adopt

Leader Dogs for the Blind requires that all prospective applicants attend an orientation about our career change program. Orientations are offered free of charge. If you are interested in adopting a dog, applications will be available at the orientation and may be submitted with a $25 fee. A $1,000 tax-deductible donation is required at the time of adoption.

Upcoming Orientations

All currently scheduled orientations are listed below. The registration link for each orientation will be listed one month prior to the orientation's date. You cannot preregister. Please note that we can only accept 40 registrations per orientation. Registrations are on a first-come-first-served basis. Once 40 individuals have registered, the sign-up will be closed.

Saturday, November 14, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. - This orientation is now full. Please register for another orientation once the link becomes available.

Saturday, February 6, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. - Registration link to be posted

Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. - Registration link to be posted

Career Changed Dogs FAQs

The puppies from our breeding colony are raised by volunteer puppy raisers until they are 12–15 months of age. We have puppy raisers around the nation who have welcomed Future Leader Dogs into their homes. There are also several prisons throughout the country that have inmates raising puppies as well. When a dog is returned to Leader Dogs for the Blind from the puppy raiser, it receives a thorough medical evaluation including vaccine updates, neutering and x-rays to check for early signs of hip and elbow dysplasia.

  • Labrador retrievers – 80%
  • Golden retrievers – 10%
  • Labrador/golden crosses – 5%
  • German shepherds – less than 5%

Labrador retrievers are our most commonly available breed, so wait times for them will be much lower. Wait times for golden retrievers and German shepherds will range from 1‒4 years.

Dogs that are career changed for medical reasons may have allergies, hip or elbow dysplasia, etc. Being career changed for behavioral reasons may mean that the dog had a high level of distraction or excitability, anxiety, lack of initiative, etc. Retired Leader Dogs that have been returned to Leader Dogs for the Blind by their handlers are also occasionally available for adoption.

The dogs available for adoption have varying levels of training depending on what point in the training process the dog was career changed. Some dogs do not undergo any formal training if they have a medical condition preventing them from being a working Leader Dog. Other dogs are career changed much later in the process after having been through several months of training. Most of the dogs available for adoption are career changed for medical or behavioral reasons. However, we occasionally have retired Leader Dogs available for adoption. Please note that the training that the dogs receive while on our campus is primarily guide dog training and the amount of it won’t reflect on their ability to be a better house pet.

In addition to the $25 application fee, there is a $1,000 donation required at the time of adoption. This donation helps offset the cost of the breeding, health, care and training that the dog received while on campus. This donation is tax-deductible.

We can't accurately estimate the wait time for a dog since we can't predict which dogs will need placement nor the reason they might be career changed. Our team works hard to make the best match for each individual dog and family. Therefore, the wait time can range between several months to several years.

Keep in mind:

  • The wait time for a female is significantly longer than the wait for a male.
  • Labradors are the most common breed available. The wait for a golden retriever, German shepherd or cross is much longer.
  • Applicants with no breed or gender preference will be matched with a dog quicker than those with strong preferences.
  • Applicants willing to adopt dogs with medical conditions will be matched with a dog quicker than those who are not.

The majority of the dogs available for adoption are 1–2 years old. Some dogs are younger and some are older.

Leader Dogs for the Blind partners with several organizations who adopt career changed dogs that have the potential to succeed in their respective programs. Every career changed dog is evaluated for its potential to work in an alternative career prior to being available for adoption. Dogs we feel are suitable for alternative careers are adopted by organizations that train working, therapy or service dogs. If you are interested in a therapy or service dog, we encourage you to visit Assistance Dogs International.

Host a Leader Dog Mom

Consider hosting a Leader Dog mom in your home. When you become a volunteer breeding host for a Leader Dog mom, a female Labrador retriever, golden retriever or a cross will be placed in your home for her breeding career of two to three years. Your role during this time includes helping the dog whelp her puppies in your home and caring for her puppies for their first six weeks of life. After the Leader Dog mom is retired, you get to adopt her and have her with you for years to come.

Vote for Leader Dog

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