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

Breeding Stock Host FAQs

Thanks for your interest in hosting a breeding stock dog in your home. Please read the following questions and answers to learn more about the program and your future commitment.

If you decide to host a female breeding dog, Leader Dog provides information on the birthing process as well as how to begin socializing the puppies that will be born in your home. Additional support is always provided by our team of breeding specialists. Our veterinarians are on call 24/7.

We also hold quarterly host home meetings throughout the year, and you will be assigned a volunteer mentor to help guide you through your journey with your breeding dog.

How long is the commitment?

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. The dogs are 12 to 15 months of age when placed in your home, so a female is generally retired from our program by the time she is 4 or 5 years of age. 

What if I have other dogs in the house?

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.

What is it like after the puppies are born?

  • 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 host homes 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.

Do I have to have a fenced yard?

While it is not a requirement to have a fenced yard, females and males have to be on leash at all times if they are not in a contained area. Underground fencing or livestock fencing are not acceptable as contained areas. When females are in season, they must be attended even if in your enclosed personal back yard 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.

What happens after my female dog is bred?

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.

How many trips can I expect to make to Leader Dog?

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.

How far away can I live and still host a breeding dog?

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.

What happens to a breeding dog after it retires?

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 the host home. 

What are the physical requirements associated with hosting a breeding dog?

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.

What food do breeding dogs eat?

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.