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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know that Guide Dogs for the Blind uses a small number of Golden/Lab crosses. It seems like it's working well for them. I then wondered if other places were using crosses, and I found out the Mira Foundation in Canada uses BMD/Lab crosses as well as pure Labs for guide and service dogs. It looks like they do both F1 and go beyond F1 as well. Interesting stuff.

Here's the full link:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oh I'm not disparaging at all. I was pleasantly surprised actually. I actually think that these endeavors are good; it gives people in need of a service dog or guide dog more options. Other program dogs are mostly Labs, Goldens, and mixes thereof (and I understand why, they excel at it). I know Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation uses GSDs, but that's about it. I talked about this with some of my friends with service dogs, and they basically said they would get a program dog if they had more options.

Initially, I was stumped on why they pickled BMDs to cross with Labs. Their temperament and size is a desirable quality, but even compared to other giant breeds, their lifespan is quite short. That's not to mention the other health concerns. I think that's why sometimes they didn't stop at F1. It didn't specify whether their "second generation Labernese" is a backcross of Labernese x Lab or Labernese x BMD or just Labernese x Labernese. From the looks of their dogs, my guess is that they do all three. MIRA foundation has a location in North Carolina, but their headquarters are in Quebec. It does get quite cold there and it snows, so I get wanting a dog more cold hardy than a Lab.

Looking over their website again and watching some videos, it looks like they do use purebred BMDs as well, just in a lesser capacity compared to the crosses and purebred Labs.
The videos:
(part 1)
(part 2)
(the kennel)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRxIdkpPsZNHL86LCNAEIhw (MIRA foundation channel)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I exchanged emails with someone from the MIRA foundation, and they basically took an educated leap of faith and lucked out. Their first crosses gave them the best of both worlds, and they went from there. This person said there aren’t any definitive statistics on wash out rates, other than the obvious fact that the rate is high. There’s only estimates, as there are so many different types of service dogs from different places. From our conversation, it doesn’t look like MIRA foundation has this data either for their own dogs. The cross is new, created in the 90s, but so new that you can’t get meaningful data from it. There wasn’t any implication that the data in question was being withheld either. They either had massive success since the start, or they just don’t really keep track extensively.

Talking to some acquaintances who are SD users, some programs don’t really keep track extensively, accepting the high washout rate as just part of the job. The dogs that pass pass, and the dogs that don’t are adopted out through the proper mechanisms.
 
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