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Guardian Program

Giving our breeding dogs a fur-ever family of their very own... From the very start.

Putting the dogs first, always.

​Our Ilchester Guardian Program is our way of ensuring every single one of our puppies, including breeding dogs, receive the love, affection and attention they deserve from a family of their very own. 

It is our way of ensuring the dogs quality of life and welfare is put before the benefits to the breed in extending our breeding program. 

What is Guardianship?

Traditionally, dog breeders have kept dogs in kennels to allow them to continue their breeding programmes. In our opinion, guardianship is better ethically and for the welfare of the dog; hence why we have designed our breeding program in this way. This agreement allows us to place a puppy into your care, her family home where she will be loved, cared and doted on (and where she will stay forever!) and maintain a breeding career at Ilchester. She will return to us 1-4 times across her prime fertile years to breed and whelp. She will remain the property of Ilchester until the completion of her contract, at which time she will be spayed and all rights and paperwork will be transferred to you.

How can I become an Ilchester Guardian?

If you’re interested in becoming an Ilchester Guardian, firstly contact us and we’ll send you information about our application and interview process.

Once you’re approved, you’ll then sign a legally binding contract and we’ll provide all the information and support you need to become an Ilchester Guardian family.

As soon as a suitable puppy becomes available we’ll let you know, and you’ll get to take them home with you at 8 weeks of age to become part of your family.

YOU MUST reside within ONE HOUR's driving distance of Narangba, QLD to be eligible. 

What does it cost?

Our Guardian puppies are offered to you at the upfront cost of a companion puppy. This is to protect our interest in the dog and ensure the puppy is going to a home that has their best interests at heart as well. However, this cost will be entirely refunded to you as set out in our contract. If you have been an Ilchester Guardian previously, your second and subsequent Guardian pups will be without an upfront cost as you will have previously demonstrated your genuine commitment. 

Because our breeding standards are so high at Ilchester, we will only breed from fully health tested dogs. This means your Ilchester golden will be fully assessed by a vet and genetic specialist (at no cost to you) before proceding with any breeding. 

Ilchester will pay for hip and elbow evaluations by a specialist radiologist, as well as a full DNA breed profile to test for all current known inherited problems. We are also responsible for any veterinary costs associated with breeding. 

At the end of your Guardian puppies breeding life or should we determine them unsuitable for breeding, Ilchester will desex your dog at no cost to you and they will remain with you as your fur-ever friend. 

Your financial commitment to your Guardian dog includes the usual day-to-day and veterinary expenses related to normal dog ownership (such as food, training, grooming, yearly vaccines etc as per contract)

Female Guardian Puppies

Your Guardian contract requires the dog be delivered to Ilchester to breed and then again to whelp (give birth).

She is delivered to us when she is in season (they generally cycle every 6 months and is evident with bleeding) and then retrieved when she has completed her cycle which is generally 10-14 days.

She returns to us 7 days prior to her due date and she remains until her litter is weaned. The gestation period for females is 63 Days (9 weeks).

We always endeavor to assist in any way possible with travel or pickup – we do our best to meet you part of the way to assist if possible but this is not guaranteed.
It needs to be noted that the female ‘can’ cycle on any day of the week when she is mature enough, so you may be required to deliver her midweek.

This process is repeated for 1- 4 litters (maximum) – and we cover the cost of de-sexing upon completion of breeding.

When your dog returns to Ilchester to whelp she is in the safest possible hands. All our female Guardian mums will have their own private birthing den where their Guardian family is welcome to visit them and spend time with them while they are with their babies – after she has settled into being a mum!

Would you like to be part of our Guardian Program?

At Ilchester we pride ourselves on putting what is best for the dogs above anything else, so we’re always looking for loving families to give our breeding dogs the forever home they deserve.

The Guardian program allows families to help us develop our breed, while affording them to chance to adopt one of these beautiful dogs free of charge.

And it also allows us to keep up with the increasing demand for our dogs, knowing that all of our breeding dogs are part of a loving family environment and getting the one-on-one attention they all deserve.

Please note, you must be within travelling distance of our facilities to become part of the Guardian programme as Guardian puppies are returned to us for breeding.

GUARDIAN PROGRAM FAQ's

There are understandably a lot of questions that people have about the guardian program. These FAQ's are our best attempt at addressing all the most common questions. Please email us if you have a question we haven't addressed! We hope this information doesn't overwhelm you- it is actually a very simple arrangement.

WHAT DO I FEED MY GUARDIAN DOG?

We ask that you feed Eukanuba large breed puppy, graduating to large breed adult at maturity. We have had no issues with this food being tolerated by our pups and dogs.

SOCIALISATION

You MUST socialise your guardian dog with other dogs, people, kids and strangers. They MUST be house broken and have basic obedience skills.

We worry more about proper and early socialization than if they will jump through hoops or play dead. We just need them to be comfortable and well-behaved in a home around a family and be able to obey basic commands, not have anxiety issues when in a crate or around new people.

Guardian dogs MUST be comfortable being away from their owners without it causing them high stress. Most of the dogs we select as future guardian dogs can be really great at all of these things AS LONG AS THEY’RE WELL SOCIALISED from puppyhood into adulthood.

DO YOU PAY VET BILLS?

We pay for all vet bills that are related to pregnancy, reproduction, whelping and all neccessary breeding related health tests. 

We do not pay for general costs associated with regular pet ownership (annual check-ups, vaccinations, parasite or worm preventatives etc)

If the dog becomes sick or injured, we need the guardian family to notify us right away, we must be involved in all decisions regarding the health and veterinary treatment of the guardian dog/puppy.

LIVING ARRANGEMENTS

We ask that our guardian families practice safe dog handling. For example do not leave the dog outside if they are not at home. Don’t let the dog sit in the back of an open ute. Do not visit dog parks. Use a leash in public. Do NOT tie or chain your dog to a tree or post in the backyard. Provide basic obedience training so the dog has manners. Our dogs are very family oriented and thrive in a family environment. They love their people.

WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORTATION?

The guardian home is responsible for the transportation of the dog to us when needed for breeding, whelping litters, health testing and pick-up. This is the most inconvenient part of the guardian responsibilities. This is why all our guardians must be local to us and live within 30-60 mins from Narangba, QLD.

Please think through this carefully. Sometimes we will be able to pick up dogs ourselves, but this is not always possible. This is the guardian home responsibility and part of how they earn the dog through the program. Guardians will be notified at least 3 days in advance for any necessary trips.

HOW LONG IS A DOG PREGNANCY?

Dogs are pregnant for 63 days. Once our guardian dogs have been bred, they go back home with their guardian families and remain with them during their entire pregnancy.  We will ask that she be brought back to us about a 1-2 weeks before her due date so she can get situated and comfortable before she whelps her puppies.

HOW LONG WILL SHE BE WITH YOU AFTER HAVING HER LITTER?

Guardian mums stay here with us for 2 months. Just long enough for her to whelp her puppies, wean them and then the last 2 weeks is a very important time where the mother dog will teach her puppies socialisation skills. She teaches them how to be dogs.

So, even if the puppies are weaned and could be separated from their mum and still survive – we do believe that the last 2 weeks is very important and ask that our guardians be patient and understanding that she will be with us until the puppies go home at 8wks.

We also never force weaning.  We allow our mums to decide when mother nature tells her it’s time to wean.  Whether that be earlier or later than “usual”.

I have found there are no hard set rules when it comes to how dogs parent their puppies. Every dog mum is different and we try to listen to our dogs and allow her to follow her instincts as much as possible.

DOES IT NEGATIVELY AFFECT THE DOG TO GO FROM THE GUARDIAN HOME TO THE BREEDER HOME?

The human race is such a kind, compassionate species that we tend to look at our canine companions as little humans, when in reality, they are canines and have a very different thought process. This is what differentiates mankind from other species in pack societies. 

If the guardian family is crying and acting nervous or sad about leaving her, then she will feel that even more greatly and we need to make sure that this doesn’t happen. If leaving your dog for a couple months with another family will cause you this stress, then this program is not going to be a good fit for you.

Humans can project nervous emotions on to their dogs. It is super important to stay upbeat during the transition from your home to ours because if not then your dog may sense it and THEN yes, it may affect her negatively.

This is not only something you should consider as a guardian dog owner but as a dog owner in general.

Dogs do not live in the past or the future, as humans do. They live in the moment.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING PREGNANCY AND WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO DIFFERENTLY?

The dog may act a little more tired, or not eat normally for a few weeks. The last couple weeks of pregnancy she is usually becoming more hungry and sleeps more as time progresses. Otherwise, normal activity is typical and it is important to continue with exercising your dog right up to the end. This helps during delivery. Being in shape is always best. Normal play and romping and walks are fine.

I ALREADY HAVE A DOG. IS THIS OK?

Our guardian puppies will NOT be placed in a home that has an unaltered dog of any kind. This is to prevent unwanted matings to protect the integrity of our purebred animals. If you already own a dog, we would need to meet them before agreeing to place a guardian puppy with your family. 

THE BREEDING PROCESS

You must inform us immediately when your dog shows signs of coming into season (usually a show of blood). From this first display of blood, she will need to be transported to us about 7 days later to stay for a week for mating. 

The Guardian Home program is actually a very simple program even though it may seem like there are a lot of details. The guardian program is designed for our breeding dogs, if we as humans truly reject the idea of puppy mills, then to my knowledge there is no better way than the guardian home program to help reputable breeders continue to breed healthy,  happy dogs in a humane and loving environment and out of cages. We value our breeding dogs and we want them all to live their entire life as family members and we hope that you can see how this program can benefit your family by providing you with a HIGH QUALITY, HEALTHY puppy for life. 

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©2020 by Ilchester Golden Retrievers.

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