In the USA and throughout the world, the majority of guide dog programs require handlers to be a minimum of 16 years of age (a high school sophomore) to apply, go through training and be partnered with a guide dog. This age minimum is to ensure that the handler is old enough to be fully responsible for the proper care and well being of their canine partner as well as have enough independent travel and mobility skills to properly keep up on the dog’s extensive training.
There is currently at least one guide dog program in the UK and one in the USA that is open to partnering teenagers as young as 13 years of age with guide dogs. These children go through the same process as any other guide dog applicant for being partnered and trained with a dog, and they must have at least 2-3 regular routes that they will work their dog on to keep up with the dog’s skill and training as well as have support from their family and school system to properly care for and work the dog on a regular basis. Many of the dogs partnered with these younger visually impaired individuals are dogs that are less active and would not meet the more active and demanding needs of an adult guide dog user.