Schutzhund is a
German word meaning “protection dog”. It refers to a sport that
focuses on developing and evaluating those traits in dogs that make them
more useful and happier companions to their owners.
concentrates on three parts. The three parts are :-
The Protection are
similar to those for dogs in police work. While dogs of other
breeds are also admitted to Schutzhund trials, this breed evaluation
test was developed specifically for the German Shepherd Dog.
Schutzhund is intended to demonstrate the dog’s intelligence and
utility. As a working trial, Schutzhund measures the dog’s
mental stability, endurance, structural efficiencies, ability to scent,
willingness to work, courage and trainability.
This working dog
sport offers an opportunity for dog owners to train their dog and
compete with each other for recognition of both the handler’s ability
to train and the dog’s ability to perform as required. It is a
sport enjoyed by persons of varied professions, who join together in a
camaraderie born of their common interest in working with their dogs.
Persons of all ages and conditions of life --- even those with
significant disabilities --- enjoy Schutzhund as a sport. Often,
it is a family sport.
addition to the Schutzhund titles, the GSDCA-WDA offers three additional
training degrees. Two of these, the FH1
are advanced tracking degrees that require the dog to follow tracks over
changing terrain, discriminate between cross-tracks and is at least 3
third is the BH. The BH is a degree
for traffic-safe companion dogs that tests the dogs temperament in and
around people. It includes basic formal obedience - heeling on and off
leash, sits, downs and recalls - as well as practical tests of the
dog’s character in everyday situations. These include reaction
to normal situations involving crowds of people, strange noises,
joggers, cars and other dogs. Before being allowed to enter for a
Schutzhund I title, the dog must first have successfully completed the
are three levels of the Schutzhund test for which titles can be earned.
For Schutzhund I
the dog must be at least 18 months old and pass an initial temperament
test by the judge. The dog must heel on the leash and off,
demonstrate the walking sit, the walking down, and the stay tests, as
well as, the send-out. It must retrieve on the flat and over
a hurdle. In tracking, it must be able to follow a track laid by
its handler at least 20 minutes earlier. There are also protection
II the dog must be at least 19 months old and must already
have earned its Schutzhund I degree. It must again pass all
of the obedience and protection tests required for the Schutzhund I
degree, but those tests, for Schutzhund II, are made more difficult and
require greater endurance, agility, and above all, control.
There is an additional retrieve required over the six foot slanted wall.
In tracking, the Schutzhund II candidate must be able to follow a track
laid by a stranger at least 30 minutes earlier.
III the master’s degree, the dog must be at least 20 months
old and must have earned both the Schutzhund I and the Schutzhund II
titles. Again, the tests now are made far more difficult.
All exercises in obedience and protection are demonstrated off leash.
There is the additional of a walking and running stand. In
tracking, the dog must follow a track that was laid by a stranger at
least 60 minutes earlier. The track has four turns, compared with
two turns for Schutzhund I and II, and there are three objects, rather
than two, that must be found by the dog. The picture of
obedience, strength, eagerness and confidence presented by an excellent
Schutzhund III team is a beautifully illustration of the partnership of
human and dog.
Three Parts of a Schutzhund Trial
phase includes a temperament test by the overseeing judge to
assure the dog’s mental soundness. When approached closely on a
loose leash, the dog should not act shyly or aggressively.
The track is laid earlier by a person walking normally on a natural
surface such as dirt or grass. The track includes a number of
turns and a number of small, man-made objects left by this person on the
track itself. At the end of a 33 foot leash, the handler follows
the dog, which is expected to scent the track and indicate the location
of the objects, usually by lying down with it between its front paws.
The tracking phase is intended to test the dog’s trainability and
ability to scent, as well as, its mental and physical endurance.
phase includes a series of heeling exercises, some of which
are closely in and around a group of people. During the heeling,
there is a gun shot test to assure that the dog does not openly react to
such sharp noises. There is also a series of field exercises in
which the dog is commanded to sit, lie down and stand while the handler
continues to move. From these various positions, the dog is
recalled to the handler. With dumbbells of various weights, the dog is
required to retrieve on a flat surface, over a one-meter hurdle and over
a six-foot slanted wall. The dog is also asked to run in a
straight direction from its handler on command and lie down on a second
Finally, each dog is expected to stay
in a lying down position away from its handler, despite distractions, at
the other end of the obedience field, while another dog completes the
above exercises. All of the obedience exercises are tests of the
dog’s temperament, structural efficiencies and very importantly, its
willingness to serve man or woman.
phase tests the dog’s courage, physical strength and
agility. The handler’s control for the dog is absolutely
essential. The exercises include a search of hiding places,
finding a hidden person (acting as a human decoy), and guarding that
decoy while the handler approaches. The dog is expected to pursue
the decoy when an escape is attempted and to hold the grip firmly.
The decoy is searched and transported to the judge with the handler and
dog walking behind and later at the decoy’s right side. When the
decoy attempts to attack the handler, the dog is expected to stop the
attack with a firm grip and no hesitation.
The final test of courage occurs when
the decoy is asked to come out of a hiding place by the judge from the
opposite end of the trial field. The dog is sent after the decoy
when he refuses to listen to the handler’s command to stop. The
decoy then runs directly at the dog threatening the dog with a stick.
All grips during the protection phase are expected to be firmly placed
on the padded sleeve and stopped on command and or when the decoy
discontinues the fight. The protection tests are intended to
assure that the dog is neither a coward nor a criminal menace.
What is the Judge looking for in the Dog?
At all three stages
--- Schutzhund I, II and III --- each of the three phases:
obedience, tracking and protection, is worth 100 points, for a total of
300 points. If a dog does not receive a minimum of 70% of the
points in tracking, 70% of the points in obedience and 70% of the points
in protection --- or if the dog fails the pretrial temperament test ----
it is not awarded a degree that day and must repeat the entire test,
passing all phases of the test at a later trial. In every event,
the Judge is looking for an eager, concentrating and accurate working
dog. High ratings and scores are given to the animal that displays
a strong willingness and ability to work for it human handler.
Schutzhund Trained Dog in the Home
Since Schutzhund is
the demonstration of the German Shepherd dog’s most desirable
characteristics, dogs well trained in Schutzhund are usually excellent
companions in the home. The German Shepherd Dog --- like any other
working dog that possesses mental stability --- has trust and confidence
in itself, allowing it to be at peace with its surroundings.
In addition to sound
structural efficiencies for long, arduous work, the standard for the
German Shepherd Dog calls for mental stability and a willingness to
work. The dog should be approachable, quietly standing its
ground, showing confidence and a willingness to meet overtures without
itself necessarily making them. It should be generally calm, but
eager and alert when the situation warrants. It should be
fearless, but also good with children.
The German Shepherd
Dog should not be timid or react nervously to unusual sounds or sights.
A dog that is overly aggressive because of its overall fears of people
and events can be extremely dangerous. The Schutzhund sport is
designed to identify and eliminate such dogs from breeding stock.
Because Schutzhund training gives the owner a great deal of control over
the dog the owner is able to let the dog have more fun. Not only
is Schutzhund training itself enjoyable for the dog, but the Schutzhund
trained dog knows how to please its owners, creating a stronger bond
between dog and owners.
a Puppy for Schutzhund.
In every breed, the
pedigree is the key to knowing the potential of the puppy.
Schutzhund revolves around working lines --- generations of dogs that
have proven themselves and produced similar characteristics in their
offspring. These characteristics include not only the physical
structure of the dog, which is very important, but also its temperament.
bloodlines from which you want your puppy may require advice.
Information from breed surveys can help. Of course, it makes sense
to discuss your objectives with reputable and experienced Schutzhund
handlers or enthusiasts.
Once you have
determined that the bloodlines of the potential dam and sire are of high
quality, you should observe the parents, especially the Mother, if that
is at all possible. The dam will be the main influence on the
young pup for the first six weeks of its life. If the dam is
nervous or unsure, chances are this uncertainty will be transferred to
If you are able to
see the litter, watch the puppies together and also separately, to try
to determine which is the best puppy. Obvious structural defects
or health problems should be watched for.
It is important that
the puppy have intense instinct to stalk the prey --- a ball, a toy,
etc. --- and also be the leader in the sense of bullying the other
puppies. The puppy should not show fear when away from its
littermates. It should not need to stay with the mother. The
puppy should be adventurous and active, playing with objects shown to it
by someone in the enclosure, but it should be independent enough to take
that object and go off on its own as well.
It is independence
and confidence, combined with the positive contact with the pack leader
(the dam, at this time) that will develop into the traits of
trainability that you need.
a Puppy for Schutzhund Work.
Puppyhood is the most
critical period for the development of the characteristics you want to
encourage. Your local Schutzhund club can advise you about
nurturing and socializing your growing puppy.
A puppy learns from
it experiences, so you want to provide only positive ones. It
should be provided with opportunity to explore and investigate new
situations and new people, but always in a non-threatening way.
Remember that your goal is to build confidence in the young animal.
Your aim is NOT to dominate or oppress the young pup.
Exposure to different
environments is crucial to the general education of the dog and also to
assure it that the world is a safe pace. If something appears to
make the dog unsure, give it the opportunity to investigate it slowly,
but do not force the issue.
It is imperative to
avoid situations where your dog would be dominated by another older or
stronger dog, or by another puppy. You also want to avoid having
to discipline or correct your puppy and thus dampen its spirit or damage
its self-confidence. You can do this by never leaving the pup in a
situation where it can cause damage to your valuables or find itself in
a dangerous predicament.
The final area of development is that of
drive encouragement. The natural behaviors that you want to
encourage are playing with the ball, tug of war, hide and seek, pulling
toys on a string, pursuing you rapidly when you run away, and finally
defending itself, its family and its home. The latter really only
shows itself between the ages of nine and eighteen months as the pup
begins to mature by barking at strangers or intruders.
It is better to leave
for later formal obedience training with a young dog. The
character of the puppy is not sufficiently strong to withstand the
corrections involved in obedience training. Acceptable manners at
home and in the car and “play“ training, like learning to sit for a
food reward, with NO corrections involved, is advisable.
Real obedience work should begin only after the dog is well on its way
in the protection training.
Value to the Breed
Any registered German Shepherd
that has earned a Schutzhund degree has demonstrated sufficient ability
as a working dog to qualify for breed evaluation. The breed
evaluation is a very detailed examination of the dog’s structure,
temperament and pedigree and requires both a certification of good hip
joints and sufficient performance on an endurance test (the AD).
Dogs that do well in the breed evaluation receive a Koerklasse I or
Koerklasse II. This is a recommendation and evaluation by a
trained and recognized expert Judge as the worthiness of the dog for
breeding. Dogs rated Koerklasse II are “suitable for breeding”
and dogs rated Koerklasse I are “recommended for breeding”. By
thus screening dogs in order to select the suitable specimens for
breeding, Schutzhund helps to maintain the quality of the breed at a
very high level. Thus, there is a very high level of assurance
that puppies born to Schutzhund dams and sired by Schutzhund dogs are
more likely to be of reliable temperament, high intelligence, steady
nerves, extreme endurance, great strength, and sound structures.
Dogs Enjoy Schutzhund Training?
If trained in the
right manner, dogs enjoy working, as anyone who attends a Schutzhund
competition can see. The joy of the dogs in working with their
handlers is evident.
For thousands of
years, dogs have adapted to serve humans in a mutually beneficial
relationship. While dogs could move quickly, hunt prey, and
protect flocks and their owner, the humans could provide food, shelter
from the most severe elements, and protection from larger predators,
besides tending to the dog’s injuries. A dog’s reason for
being is to serve humans.
Schutzhund training helps develop the
dog’s natural instincts to a high level. Self-confident dogs, doing
work for which they are well trained, are happy dogs. Wagging
tails, sounds of excitement, and strong pulling on a leash all show an
observer at a Schutzhund trial how much fulfillment dogs find in this