Labrador Retrievers Are without Doubt The Most Popular Guide Dogs In The World
Labradors are more popularly used as guide dogs throughout the world than any other breed of dog.
This is without doubt due to their high intelligence, as well as their eagerness to please which makes training them such a pleasure.
The history of using dogs as guides for the blind goes back to long before the existence of the Labrador Retrievers.
The following is taken from Wikipedia Encyclopedia:-
In the mid 16th century, there was a popular verse to assist in learning the alphabet. It starts something like this "A was an Archer and B was a Blind-man/Led by a dog".
An example from the 1800's is a book by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. A character in the book say's "The blind man walks wherever the dog pulls / And so I answered."
The first institutions to train dogs as guide dogs were established in Germany during the first world war. This was done to assist the veterans blinded in the fighting when they returned home.
This was followed in 1929 in America.
In 1934 the first English organisation dedicated to guide dogs was established.
In the 1920's and 1930's, Jakob von Uexküll along with Emanuel Georg Sarris started investigating the different methods of training these dogs, they subsequently published better ways of doing this training than were available at the time.
Very early on Labradors were recognized as one of the best breeds to use for this task, along with Golden retrievers and Alsatians (the first to be used).
There are a number of other breeds being used, but none are even nearly as popular as the Lab.
You will however find a good number of Lab cross breeds being used for guiding, mostly due to allergies by the owners to dogs hair (unfortunately Labs do shed a lot). Labradoodles are popular for this reason.
Most civilized countries around the globe have legislation in place which allows a dog to accompany its blind owner everywhere. Which means into places that other dogs or pets would not be allowed.
These laws do vary greatly throughout the world unfortunately, for instance,in South America and in Mexico, the owners have sole discretion as to who is allowed in.
Unfortunately Muslims consider dogs to be unclean, and even when living in European countries with laws to protect the blind assist dogs, taxi drivers, store owners etc. will still refuse to allow the animal in.
This situation is difficult to police simply because of the religious connotations.
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