Unlike before when the only dogs used as guides for blind folks were German Shepherds, these days other dog breeds are also used in this kind of service. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss the best dog breeds for the blind and also reveal importation information about these working canines.
Characteristics of a Great Guide Dog
Before we take a look at the list of breeds we have today that are the best as guide dogs, it is necessary that we discuss the characteristics that a great guide dog must possess. This will help you choose the best canine companion for your blind folks.
1. Calm Temperament
A guide dog must have a calm temperament. It must be able to maintain its focus despite distractions in the environment. This is very important as it will ensure the safety of their charge.
This characteristic takes precedence over the next one which we will discuss which is also very important. Your guide pup must be able to take and listen to instructions and training.
3. Very Intelligent
This is a necessity for this type of service dogs. The expectation is that they are required to make complex and critical decisions; hence, they must be intelligent enough to learn and carry out such important tasks.
4. Selectively Social
A great guide dog must be able to interact with persons and other pets. At the same time, they must be able to maintain attention on their charge when on duty despite the presence of other persons or pets.
5. Good Health and Long Life
As a result of the amount of money spent in training them for blind folks, it is important that such a dog is not one prone to much illness. Also, it must be able to live for a long time. Else, the money invested in training the tyke goes down the drain in just a few years when it dies. Visit: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42028076 to find out the lifespan of some guide dogs.
Guide Dog Breeds
The breeds in this list embody the characteristics we discussed above and are the most popular canine in the business of leading persons with vision impediments. Despite, how efficient they are, they also have their drawbacks which we will point out.
So, without further ado, let’s begin…
1. German Shepherd
Yes, you simply can’t top the first Seeing Eye dogs. They were the first breed used for this purpose by the Germans (which is where the name is gotten from) to aid their World War II veterans.
Although they were already popular in Germany, it would take close to a decade before they were used in the U.S and Europe. When the Seeing Eye school was established in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A in 1929, these dogs were the only ones used. And it remained so for a number of years.
While they remain the icon for guide dogs the world over, their usage is on decline as many have begun to favor the Golden and Labrador Retriever.
- Very hardworking and dedicated
- Well recognized by many which is good when in public
- Extremely intelligent
- Might be hostile to other pets if not well socialized
- Sheds a lot
- Susceptible to hip dysplasia
- Shorter lifespan when compared to the other dogs on this list.
2. Golden Retriever
This breed is a great substitute for the German Shepherd as it does not have its health or temperament issues. This breed is known for its calm personality and can be easily trained and worked it.
- Calm disposition
- Very intelligent and obedient
- Gets along with people and other pets
- Doesn’t require much exercise
- Requires a lot of grooming attention
3. Labrador Retriever
Many consider the Labrador Retriever to be the most well-known seeing eye dog breed in the U.S. It has a great temperament and can be easily trained. The only thing you need to be worried of is its high energy level. It has more of such levels when it is younger. While this can be a downside for some, it works best for charges who are very active. Click here to find out how much exercise a dog needs.
- Amazing personality
- Highly intelligent and can be easily trained
- Requires little grooming
- Socializes will with both children and other pets
- High energy level
4. Golden and Labrador Mix
The second and third dogs on this list have been crossbred recently over the years to produce a very wonderful hybrid. And they are having great prospect as seen in many training programs and dog schools.
- Incredible temperament and able to work despite pressure
- Very focused
- Sociable yet not distracted
- Less grooming needs when compared to pure Golden Retreivers
- Less exercise needs when compared to pure Labradors.
- Some may still require high grooming needs
Do not be deceived by their appearance, Poodles are very intelligent. They can be trained easily and are becoming popular as seeing eye dogs for those who are dog allergic because of their hypoallergenic nature.
The only issue one might face with using this breed as a Seeing Eye dog is that people might not take it seriously, while some might end up petting it due to its cuteness.
- Can be trained easily
- Less health issues with long life
- Loving and loyal
- High exercise level
- Not recognized as a guide dog by many
While the dog breeds information provided above will point you in the right direction for the selection of a guide dog, you need to realize that the individual personality of the canine also affects if it will be effective for this kind of service.
And that brings us to the end of the article. Which of the dog breeds listed above are you going for? Or do you have any in mind already? Feel free to let us know, we always love hearing from our loving readers.