Guide dogs provide opportunities for social interaction and greater independence for people who are blind or have low vision. International Guide Dog Day pays tribute to the dogs who do this impressive work. Guide dogs help their owners make their way through the world while offering love and comfort in so many ways.
References to guide dogs date back to the 16th Century, so for the hundreds of years of service that these faithful companions have provided, we pay tribute to their service this year on April 27th (the last Wednesday in April).
The International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) is the professional organisation and standard-setter for guide dog organisations with 97 member organisations around the world. There are more guide dogs in the world than any other type of assistance or service dog. Guide dog organisations have pioneered the development of training methods for dogs to assist people with disabilities or long-term health conditions and there are now also many other types of assistance dogs worldwide.
To mark International Guide Dog Day 2022, IGDF has published its latest global statistics which give a picture of guide dog services worldwide.
Guide Dog Statistics as at 31 December 2021
22,939 guide dogs are currently working worldwide. This means that 22,939 people who are blind or have low vision have the support of a guide dog to help them live life on their terms. This means that collectively, IGDF member organisations are delivering 8,372,735 days of independence and freedom each year.
2,405 guide dogs were trained during 2021. The global Covid 19 pandemic had a severe impact on IGDF members around the world, but they showed resilience and creativity and found ways to continue to deliver these essential services. The 2021 figure of 2,405 is an improvement on the 2020 total of 2,038, but further work is needed to return to the pre-pandemic levels of 3,000 guide dogs being trained each year.
5,589 individuals were employed full or part-time by IGDF organisations around the world. Their dedication, expertise and professionalism enables thousands of people who are blind or have low vision to enjoy a safe and effective guide dog service.
33,551 individual volunteers gave their time and experience to help IGDF member organisations deliver these life-changing services. This demonstrates the strength and breadth of community involvement and support around the world.
8,156 guide dog puppies started guide dog training during 2021. The Covid 19 pandemic had a severe impact on guide dog training and guide dog waiting lists have increased worldwide. IGDF member organisations are determined to increase guide dog provision and reduce the time people have to wait for a guide dog. These new puppies are the guide dogs of the future.
More statistics on the IGDF website: https://www.igdf.org.uk/about-us/facts-and-figures/
About the IGDF
The International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) is the charity that defines and maintains international standards for the training of guide dogs around the world. This work ensures the quality and safety of guide dog services for people who are blind or have low vision.
IGDF was established in 1987 by representatives of 15 guide dog organisations from 10 different countries. IGDF has grown significantly over the years and now has 97 member organisations from 34 different countries. Over 20,000 people with sight loss enjoy the benefits of safe, independent travel through their partnership with a guide dog. However, the World Health Organisation estimates there to be over 250 million people who are blind or have low vision worldwide.
As well as developing international standards, IGDF supports new guide dog organisations around the world, helping them to grow and progress towards full accreditation against the IGDF standards. IGDF also offers scholarships which enable guide dog instructors to develop their professional skills by undertaking secondments with established IGDF member organisations.
The first International Guide Dog Day was celebrated in 1992 and is held on the last Wednesday in April each year.