Top 5 Service Dog Breeds Guiding the Blind
According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 39 million people that are blind worldwide. Of that, an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of 15 are irreversibly blind. Throughout human history, when man had a need, there’s been a dog there to offer a solution. In many cases, guide dogs offer a life changing experience for the sightless among us.
You know a seeing eye dog when you see him. Of all the service dogs, the Seeing-Eye Dog or Guide Dog is probably the most prevalent in the modern lexicon. The guide dog has been a benchmark for service dogs of all types since the foundation of The Seeing Eye school in Nashville, Tennessee in 1929. Since then, a number of breeds have risen to the top of the class, let’s have a look at them.
Let’s get started. But, before we start, take a moment to like and subscribe for more fun, fauna facts.
Here’s a Trivia Question: How much money does it take to breed, train and support a guide dog throughout his working life? See how you do by commenting below ad we’ll give you the answer later in this video.
Well, get to the top guide dogs breeds in a moment, but first, let’s look at how a service dog helps his handler maintain independence despite losing one of our most treasured senses.
Studies show owning a pet or therapy animal offer many positive effects. The guide dog especially comes with a variety of benefits and helps in many ways. He gives a blind person more confidence, friendship, and security. Blind people who use service animals have increased confidence in going about day-to-day life and are comforted by a constant, consistent friend. Companionship offered by a service dog helps reduce anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
Guide dogs make it easier to get around. As a result, people are more willing to go places and feel a sense of independence. Meeting new people and socializing is easier, and people are more likely to offer a blind person help when there is a service animal present. As a bonus, the animals may also lead to increased interaction with other people.
Guide dogs make the experience of the unknown more relaxing. Owners of guide dogs share a special bond with their animal. Many reports claim that the dog is a member of the family, and go to their guide for comfort and support. To them, the dog isn’t seen as a working animal, but more as a loyal friend.
Now let’s get to our top 5 service dog breeds guiding the blind.
Across the range of service dogs, the Labrador has emerged as the top contender for most service dog jobs. A Labrador Retriever is a highly versatile dog, with the smarts and curiosity to do a wide variety of things. He is hard-working with an extraordinary intelligence that makes him a good candidate for training. A Lab is also known for his friendliness and sociability.
The Labrador sticks close and remains loyal, but doesn’t have the protective instinct of many other breeds that can make it risky to take them into public areas. In fact, he is friendly with everyone, including strangers, children, and other animals.
As with all service dogs, it is important to remember that these guide dogs are working animals and shouldn’t be distracted, while they are working. You have to remember that no matter how cute and friendly a service dog is that there is a human being who’s life literally depends on him remaining focused.
Like the Lab, the Golden Retriever is also highly intelligent and easy to train for a wide variety of commands and tasks, he is particularly obedient, he enjoys having a job and loves completing challenges. He is also noted for getting along well with children and other animals.
An attribute that is often cited as making the Golden Retriever stand out from the pack is his outstanding ability to tune into the needs of his two-legged companion, correcting his guiding style to accommodate even the slightest discomfort, such as his handler flinching when rubbing against a branch.
What traits are we looking for in a guide dog? A guide dog must remain focused on his tasks, must be intelligent and obey commands, must be large enough to lead his companion while wearing a harness, and should ideally fit comfortably on public transportation and beneath tables in restaurants and must be healthy with enough stamina to do his job, all this while remaining social and friendly.
The Goldador is a Golden Retriever-Labrador Retriever Mix. He is currently one of the most used breeds for guide dog work. If you have one great dog and mix it with another great dog, chances are you’ll get an even greater dog. And in the case of the Goldador, that’s exactly what you get.
According to the UK-based Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, “Historically the Golden Retriever crossed with the Labrador has produced the most successful guide dog of all, combining many of the great traits of both breeds.”
Originally guide dogs were primarily German Shepherds. They were selected because they were widely available after World War I, they were being very well bred to work, could work very long hours, were easy to train, and were good at working out problems or situations for which they were not trained.
Later most programs switched to Labrador Retrievers because the German Shepherds were not suited for many clients. Shepherds require confident owners with some skill at training and handling dogs. This is not to say he’s still not in use. He is still one of the most highly intelligent breeds around and for the right person is one of the best breeds for the job of a guide dog.
Here’s the answer to your trivia question: It costs around $64,000 US to breed, train and support a guide dog throughout the working life of these highly trained dogs, according to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. It can take up to two years of training for each dog, says the Guide Dogs of America.
We are quite fond of the Labradoodle. You take all the great qualities that make the Lab an excellent service dog, add the intelligence and hypoallergenic nature of the Poodle and you get an A-Class Guide dog that won’t leave his sightless companion with watery eyes and sneezing fits.
Originally developed to be hypoallergenic guide dogs, the first planned crosses of Poodles and Labrador Retrievers were arranged by the Royal Guide Dogs Association of Australia. The result was a smart and sociable dog who not only possessed a nature appropriate for a guide dog but also had a low-shedding coat.
Why is he down here at number 5? As a hybrid, the breed has not yet achieved consistent results in coat or temperament, but he’s getting there. In the future, it’s highly likely that he’ll become the de facto Guide Dog.
Want more fun, fauna facts? Go ahead and smash that subscribe button and hit the notification icon to not miss a single fact. If you like THIS video, go ahead and push the like button, or that other button also works. If you’d like to help us grow, consider becoming a patron on Patreon or clicking the Paypal link on AnimalFacts.us. And as always catch ya next time.