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What’s The Difference Between Guide Dogs And Seeing Eye Dogs?

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I’ve been a guide dog puppy raiser for almost 6 years now and before I started raising guide dog pups I didn’t know the difference between a guide dog and a seeing eye dog.

In fact, it wasn’t until I was puppy raising for about a year that I first heard why a Seeing Eye dog was a guide dog, but a guide dog was not necessarily a Seeing Eye dog.

Confusing?  Give me a second and I’ll explain a little further.

The Difference Between Guide Dogs And Seeing Eye Dogs

Guide Dog Dublin
Is Dublin A Guide Dog or a Seeing Eye Dog? – image by Laurel Schuman

So I scooted on over to the Seeing Eye Website and took a gander at their FAQ page.  If you scroll all the way to the bottom you’ll see question 12:

12. Are all dogs that lead blind people Seeing Eye® dogs?

Only dogs trained by The Seeing Eye, Inc., of Morristown, N.J., are properly called Seeing Eye® dogs. The Seeing Eye is a registered trademark. The generic term for dogs trained by other schools is “guide dog.”

The Seeing Eye Website says that they are “the oldest existing guide dog school in the world”.  That’s probably why the name of the school: The Seeing Eye is pretty much synonymous with the word “guide dog”.

Do you understand now?  Did the lightbulb just go off in your head?  If not, here are a couple of similar examples:

Xerox vs. Copy

Another example that used to come up frequently in the office (I don’t think it’s as common nowadays) is asking someone for a “Xerox” of one of their documents.

Maybe I’m dating myself, but the word “Xerox” used to be synonymous with the word “copy”.  However, once again, “Xerox” was the brand while “copy” was the generic term.

Kleenex vs. Tissue

When I have to blow my nose I often ask for a “Kleenex”.  However, what I’m really asking for is a “tissue”.  “Kleenex” is the brand, but the generic term is “tissue”.

Guide Dogs vs. Seeing Eye Dogs

So lets see how you did in todays lesson.

I raised Dublin for the school Guide Dogs of America.  Dublin graduated and is now a working dog leading his blind partner.

Dublin is a _______

A. Seeing Eye Dog
B. Guide Dog
C. Neither
D. Both

I bet when you decided to read today’s post you didn’t expect to get SAT style questions 🙂

The correct answer is “B”.  Dublin is a Guide Dog!

Now do you understand the difference between guide dogs and seeing eye dogs?

Do you know of any other similar examples like Kleenex vs. Tissue, Xerox vs. Copy, or Guide Dogs vs. Seeing Eye Dogs?  If so, tell us about it in the comment section below.

By the way, I thought about this article when I was reading a post today about Frankie’s failing eyesight from I’m My Dog’s Seeing-Eye Person.

When I looked up the Seeing Eye website I stumbled across this old blog post (over 4 years ago) which I think may have been the first time I realized there was a difference between Guide Dogs and Seeing Eye Dogs.

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  2. We have Seeing Eye Dogs and Guide Dogs. I recently started supporting Seeing Eye Dogs Vision Australia thinking they might of changed from Guide Dogs(as thats all I knew them as) but apparently we have both.

  3. That’s interesting. So people are more aware of “Seeing Eye Dog” vs “guide dog”. I usually say that my pup is going to be a guide dog for the blind.

  4. I find I normally have to follow up telling people that David is a “guide dog in training” with “he’s going to be a seeing eye dog”. The former gets a blank look, and the latter gets a spark of recognition. 🙂

  5. Thanks for all the other examples. It’s very interesting to see all the brands that become synonymous with generic words.

  6. Hi Carey,

    That’s very interesting. I’ll take a look at the Guide Dog Federation website and see if I can find anymore information. In Australia do people ever refer to the dogs as Seeing Eye Dogs or is that only something that happens in the United States?

    Take care,

  7. Thanks Allen! Probably about 50% of the time people ask me if I’m training a Seeing Eye Dog.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Oh and Cutex vs nail polish, Hoover vs vacuum cleaner (even a verb, to hoover), Biro vs ball point pen, Tippex vs correction fluid. The marketing men do a good job on us eh? Great post Colby.

  9. But Guide Dogs is also a ‘Brand Name’. Some countries even have royal patronage eg Royal Guide Dogs for the Blind in New Zealand. Guide Dogs are also very proud of their branding and history. Certainly they are both very competitive in Australia. I think if you look up the history of guiding dogs, the Seeing Eye Dog was an American movement and to this day the Guide Dogs of America follow the British standards and trends. Look up the Guide Dog Federation website. Have not done any research but see what you can find and tell me!

  10. Interesting. I always thought seeing eye dog was just yesterday’s term for a guide dog.

    At one time Aspirin (upper case) was a brand made by Bayer. But as it was used repeatedly as lower case, Bayer lost the exclusive use. That’s why Xerox hates it when someone says they got a new Toshiba xerox machine.

  11. Hi- Thanks for posting this. I’d always wondered about the difference between “Seeing Eye Dogs” and “Guide Dogs”. A friend has a Service Dog so I quickly learned about them and Companion Dogs. Excellent article.

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