SDTI Service Dog Training Institute Logo

Donna Hill's

Service Dog Training Institute


How Long Does it Take to Find a Service Dog Candidate?

calendar showing several months

Many people get impatient when they start looking for an assistance dog candidate.

How long it can take depends on many factors:

  1. The Breed (or Mix) You Are Looking For.

    Rare breeds may take longer. Regionally, the breeds vary too. Choosing more common breeds like a labrador or golden retriever increases your chance of finding a dog sooner.

  2. The Population Near Where You Live.

    In general, the higher the population the more dogs will be available to choose from both from breeders and from rescues. If you live on an island or in an isolated area, you may need to plan to travel to visit potential litters or dogs. Use a webcam to see where the dogs live and interview the breeder/owner/rescue organization before you go in person.

  3. How Important it is to You if the Parents Have Been Tested for Health Issues Common to the Breed.

    In our opinion, this is very important especially in breeding lines that are relatively short, such as a new breeder with dogs only a few years old. There are many breeders who have dogs from untested parents. Look carefully at the pedigree to see if previous generations have been tested and what their scores are. This applies to both purebred and mixed breed dogs like Doodles.

  4. Puppy or Adult Dog

    If you know the breed you want and have sourced a reputable breeder who produces healthy dogs with good temperaments, you may need to wait a year or more, especially if they only breed occasionally. I’d advise start looking at least 6 months before you plan to start training, especially if you are starting in spring or fall. The better breeders have presold their pups and are likely to have a wait list for the next litter. If you want your pup in the fall, start looking in the spring. It takes 2 months for the puppies to develop from conception and another 2 months for the pups to get to an age that is appropriate to go to their new homes. That gives the breeder a few months to look for potential mates for their dog. Not being in a hurry for a pup will also put you in good with the breeder. They don’t like being pressured. Be open to considering any adult dogs that are returned or retired from conformation show.

  5. The Time of Year

    In general more puppies tend to be born in the spring as that is when many dogs biologically are geared to have a litter. In the fall, there is usually another spike in puppies being born.

    It can be frustrating to have to wait especially when most people want their service dog yesterday! Knowing you have done your research and have made the best choice you have available will give you a good start to successfully training your own service dog. 


Wondering how to train your own service dog?

Check out our Service Dog Training Institute classes (for both human and dog).
If you want to learn how to train a service dog like a professional, these classes will give you the skills to do so and to train other pet dogs! You learn as your dog learns.

You might also like