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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Expert Advice January 2020 Issue

Dear Doctor: Guide Dog Versus Seeing Eye Dog

Q. What is the difference between a guide dog and a seeing eye dog? I’ve seen both terms used for dogs who help people who can’t see, but does a guide dog also help people who use wheelchairs, for instance?

Catherine Rendon

New Hope, Pennsylvania

Dear Ms. Rendon,

A. Both guide dogs and Seeing Eye dogs help people who can’t see, but only dogs trained at a particular school in Morristown, New Jersey, can correctly be called Seeing Eye dogs; the term is a registered trademark. The Seeing Eye, which opened in 1929, is the oldest guide dog school in the world. Its founding was inspired, in part, by media publicity about the training of dogs to help veterans blinded in World War I. The organization continues its pioneering role today. A fully accredited member of the International Guide Dog Federation, Seeing Eye’s initiatives include the funding of research to identify genetic markers for degenerative eye disease.

A dog that helps someone who uses a wheelchair or in some other capacity, by the way, is called a service dog. Such a dog goes through a different kind of training.

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