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"Guide Dogs" redirects here. For the British charity, see The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

Guide dogs are assistance dogs trained to lead blind or vision impaired people around obstacles.

Although the dogs can be trained to navigate various obstacles, they are partially (red-green) color blind and are not capable of interpreting street signs. The human half of the guide dog team does the directing, based upon skills acquired through previous mobility training. The handler might be likened to an aircraft's navigator, who must know how to get from one place to another, and the dog is the pilot, who gets them there safely.

In several countries, guide dogs, along with most service and hearing dogs, are exempt from regulations against the presence of animals in places such as restaurants and public transportation.


References to guide dogs date at least as far back as the mid-16th century; the second line of the popular verse alphabet "A was an Archer" is most commonly "B was a Blind-man/Led by a dog" In the 19th century, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in her verse novel Aurora Leigh, has the title character, in describing her conversation with Lady Waldemar, remark "The blind man walks wherever the dog pulls / And so I answered" (Book V., ll. 1028-9).

The first guide dog training schools were established in Germanymarker during World War I, to enhance the mobility of returning veterans who were blinded in combat. The United Statesmarker followed suit in 1929 with The Seeing Eye in Nashvillemarker, Tennesseemarker (relocated in 1931 to Morristownmarker, New Jerseymarker). One of the founders of The Seeing Eye was America's first guide dog owner, Nashville resident Morris Frank. Frank was trained with German Shepherd Dog Buddy in Switzerlandmarker in 1928.

The first guide dogs in Britain were German Shepherds. Three of these first were Judy, Meta and Folly who were handed over to their new owners, veterans blinded in World War I, on 6 October 1931. Judy's new owner was Musgrave Frankland. [11524]. This was followed, in 1934, by the start of The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in Great Britainmarker.


A group of Labradoodle Guide and Assistance Dogs.
Early on, trainers began to recognize which breeds produced dogs most appropriate for guide work; today, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and German Shepherd are most likely to be chosen, though by no means does this mean other breeds, such as Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, Collies, Vizslas, Doberman, Rottweilers, Boxer and Airedale Terriers are not. Crosses such as Golden Retriever/Labrador (which are popular due to both breeds' known intelligence, work-ethic, and early maturation) and Labradoodles (Labrador/Poodles bred to provide dogs with less shedding for those with allergies to hair or dander) are also common.

Guide dog accessibility

Despite regulations or rules that deny access to animals in restaurants and other public places, in many countries, guide dogs and other types of assistance dogs are protected by law, and therefore may accompany their handlers most places that are open to the public. Laws and regulations vary worldwide:
  • In the United Statesmarker, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits any business, government agency, or other organization that provides access to the general public from barring guide dogs. However, religious organizations are not required to provide such access. The Fair Housing Act requires that landlords allow tenants to have guide dogs in residences that normally have a No Pets policy and no extra fees may be charged for such tenants. Whether guide dogs in training have the same rights or not usually falls on each individual state government.
  • In most South American countries and Mexicomarker, guide dog access depends solely upon the goodwill of the owner or manager. In more tourist-heavy areas, guide dogs are generally welcomed without problems. In Brazilmarker, however, a 2006 federal decree [11525] requires allowance of guide dogs in all public and open to public places. The Brasília Metro has developed a program which trains guide dogs to ride it.
  • In Europe, the situation varies. Some countries have laws that govern the entire country and sometimes the decision is left up to the respective regions.
  • In Australia, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 protects guide dog handlers. Each state and territory has its own laws, which may differ slightly.
  • In Canadamarker, guide dogs are allowed anywhere that the general public is allowed.
  • Because Islam considers dogs in general to be unclean, many Muslim taxi drivers and store owners have refused to accommodate customers who have guide dogs. In 2003, the Sharia Council, based in the United Kingdom, ruled that the ban on dogs does not apply to those used for guide work,[11526] but many Muslims continue to refuse access, and see the pressure to allow the dogs as a restraint on religious liberty.[11527] Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra of the Muslim Council of Britain has argued strongly that Sharia does not preclude working with guide dogs, and it is actually a duty under Sharia for a Muslim to help the visually impaired.
  • In South Koreamarker, it is illegal to deny access to guide dogs in any areas that are open to the public. Violators are fined for no more than 2 million won. [11528]

See also

External links


  1. Opie, Iona and Peter Opie, ed. The Webster Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952.

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