A yellow Labrador rests on a shiny wood floor with a young yellow Labrador puppy sleeping next to her

Breeding Stock Host FAQs

After you apply, we'll match you with a Leader Dog mom or dad. You'll meet him or her on our campus and take them home with you. When your mom or dad has a "date," you'll bring them back to campus and they'll enjoy a comfortable stay on our campus for a few days before going back home with you.

If you host a Leader Dog mom, you'll be the first person to welcome her puppies into the world! Leader Dog provides information on the birthing process as well as how to begin socializing the puppies that will be born in your home. The puppies will stay with you for their first seven weeks of life before you'll bring them to our campus to get ready to meet their puppy raisers. Our breeding specialists are always there if you need help, and our veterinarians are on call 24/7.

You don't need any previous experience to become a breeding host. Our breeding team will be there for you every step of the way! We hold quarterly host home meetings throughout the year, and your dedicated volunteer mentor will be there to help guide you through your journey with your breeding dog. You'll also join a welcoming community of breeding hosts who are always there to support each other with tips, tricks and stories.

All breeding stock dogs are 12‒15 months of age when placed with a breeding host.

You'll typically meet your Labrador retriever Leader Dog mom in less than 6 months. Since we have a much smaller pool of golden retrievers, the wait for a golden retriever Leader Dog mom is usually over a year. Leader Dog dads retire much later than moms, so the wait for a Labrador dad is about 2‒3 years (5 years for a golden retriever).

Our policy is to breed a female for four consecutive litters. Because females come into heat on average every 6–7 months, this requires a host home commitment of typically 2–3 years. A Leader Dog mom is generally retired from our program by the time she is 4 or 5 years of age. Leader Dog dads will continue to be active in our program for about 7 years.

It's fine to have other dogs in your home, but we require that there are no more than three, including the breeding dog you are hosting. All household dogs must be spayed/neutered and up to date on vaccines, heartworm and flea preventative. Personal dogs are not allowed to come into physical contact with puppies.

  • You will need a place for mom and puppies where they are physically separated from any personal pets in the home. For the safety of your dog(s) as well as the puppies, personal dogs are not allowed to have any physical contact with the puppies.
  • Our breeding hosts are required to be available during the whelp (birth) of each litter. Once a female is bred, you will receive dates for a birth window based on a 63-day gestation. You will have this information about two months in advance so you have time to plan your family and work schedules.
  • Puppies require a lot of time and will need to be fed up to three times a day.

No, but your breeding dog has to be on a leash at all times if they are not in a contained area. Underground fencing or livestock fencing are not sufficient as contained areas. When females are in season, they must be attended even if your yard is enclosed since males become extremely determined to scale a fence for the chance to breed your breeding stock female. 

It’s important that our breeding stock dogs remain in top physical condition, so hosts need to be willing to commit to a daily exercise routine with your dog.

We provide veterinary care as well as heartworm and flea preventative treatments for your Leader Dog mom or dad. You are responsible for all costs related to routine care, feeding and transporting your mom or dad dog to our campus in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Breeding hosts for mom dogs are also responsible for the whelping (birth) and care of puppies for the first seven weeks of life.

Once a female is bred, she is considered under quarantine for about four months. This includes the entirety of her pregnancy, as well as the seven weeks the puppies will be in your home with their mom. Quarantine is extended to all household dogs as well. Growing fetuses and puppies can become susceptible to diseases, and the quarantine helps to minimize that risk. This means dogs are required to stay at home and in their own fenced yard. This also means they are not be allowed to attend obedience classes, doggy daycare or play in dog parks during this period.

For a female dog: About five times for a female for each litter. Typically, females will have two litters per year.

  • Drop off/pick up from breeding
  • An ultrasound and x-ray appointment
  • Litter return at 7 weeks of age

For a male dog: Males may be required to make multiple trips a year for drop off/pick up from breeding and semen collection.

Leader Dog moms and dads can be boarded whenever needed at Leader Dog for free.

We have a firm six-hour driving window radius from Leader Dog. The main reason we require this is so we can provide you and your dog the best support possible. Our veterinary and breeding teams are specially suited for caring for breeding stock dogs. We also want to make this endeavor as easy on you as we can. We provide free boarding and veterinary services to all our breeding stock dogs while they are still active in our program. Lastly, when you are bringing puppies back to Leader Dog at 7 weeks of age, a shorter car ride equates to less overall stress for the puppies, the mom and you.

When we choose a dog for you to host, we are trying to choose a forever home for that dog. We want this to be a perfect fit for your home and for the dog. When we retire a dog from our program, it is spayed/neutered and ownership is transferred free of charge to you.

You will need to be able to bend, stoop, crawl on knees and lift about 20 pounds.

It’s important that our breeding stock dogs remain in top physical condition, so hosts need to be willing to commit to a daily exercise routine with your dog.

Dogs in the breeding program are bred to be athletic. We recommend continued obedience training (they will have received basic obedience training from their puppy raiser). 

We feed all of our dogs Purina Pro Plan. Please be advised that with a nursing litter, a mom may eat up to 10–12 cups a day.

Ready to find out more?

Join us for a breeding orientation! We'll cover the breeding host role in detail and you are welcome to ask as many questions as you like.

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Orientations are the 3rd Wednesday of every month. Dates in 2021 include: September 15, October 20, November 17, December 15.
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