There are a few breeds are dogs which are used more, by a great margin, than others. And they are selected for a variety of reasons which makes them ideal for their life-long jobs.
The earliest of guide dogs were German Shepherds, but overtime, other breeds have moved in to take the lead in helping guide those who are visually disabled. German Shepherds were selected for the job because there were plenty of them after World War I, when they were bred for working, and had incredible stamina, easily trained, and highly intelligent. These characteristics made them the choice as guide dogs.
As time went on and other dog breeds were explored to do the same work, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers. The reason for the change was because German Shepherds were not a suitable breed for most owners, as they are highly independent, and strong of character, and require a firm hand from their owner. Labradors, and Golden Retrievers are much more docile, willing to please, and can get along with most owners. German Shepherds also need a lot of exercise and things to keep them busy, or they can become destructive, so they are not well suited for owners that may need their dog only for short periods during any given day.
The use of German Shepherds as guide dogs was pioneered in 1920’s Switzerland, by Dorothy Eustis, but she later introduced the two additional breeds, the Labrador and Golden Retrievers.
Currently about 70% of guide dogs are Labrador Retrievers, with the remaining 30% evenly split between Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.
Labrador Retrievers: The Ideal Guide Dogs
Even though Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds can make fine guide dogs, the Labrador Retriever is the perfect dog for the job. They are easy to train, and easily adapt to life with a close relationship to humans. Their sporting history, also helps them be strong workers, with great stamina.
A well-trained Labrador guide dog can help its owner navigate busy streets, and in and around store. This allows the owners to gain mobility impossible without a guide dog.
Another important characteristic of the Labrador breed is their instinctiveness when it comes to danger, which is crucial for the owners that rely on their guide dogs for mobility outside of the home.
Guide Dogs go through a formal training process, specifically designed to prepare them for their life as a guide dog. Each dog is trained for a specific person, and their needs, which makes them highly valuable to the prospective owner. Guide dogs are also thought to not only follow commands, but to also disobey them if it is going to put the owner in danger. Due to this difficult and complicated training process, those who want a guide dog, usually have to wait a long time in order to get access to a guide dog.