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Dog Training: What is Schutzhund?

Schutzhund is a German word that means protection dog and is a type of sport that focuses on the development and evaluation of the traits in dogs which make them happier and more useful. Schutzhund training for dogs involves three different parts including obedience, tracking, and protection work. The intention of the sport is to demonstrate a dog's utility and intelligence while also offering dog owners an opportunity to train with their pets and compete for recognition of their dog's ability. The test for Schutzhund is known for being very demanding.

Schutzhund was originally developed as a breed evaluation test for German Shepherds in particular. The sport originated in Germany in the early 1900s and today includes many breeds in addition to the German Shepherd. Some of the most common breeds involved in Schutzhund in addition to German Shepherds include Rottweilers, Giant Schnauzers, Boxers, Dobermans, and Cane Corsos among other breeds.

Schutzhund Dog Traits

Schutzhund basically tests dogs for the traits that are necessary for performing police type work. The dogs that are able to pass testing are generally suitable for a number of different tasks including search and rescue, and police work. The traits required for performing such demanding jobs include intelligence, sense of smell, courage, desire to work, strong bond to owner or handler, and protective instinct. Schutzhund also tests for physical traits including agility, endurance, scenting ability, and strength.

The Phases of Schutzhund Trials

There are three phases involved in Schutzhund testing. The first phase is tracking, the second phase is obedience, and the third phase is protection. There are three Schutzhund titles and prior to a dog testing for a title, they must complete basic obedience testing. Each phase of the Schutzhund test is evaluated on a 100 point scale with the minimum passing score for tracking and obedience being 70, and the minimum score for the protection phase being 80.

Phase 1 - The tracking phase involves testing a dog's physical endurance, scenting ability, and mental soundness. During this phase, a track layer will walk across a space dropping items along the way. Following this, the dog is directed to follow the track while on a leash. During the tracking phase, dogs are scored on how carefully and intently they follow the track and identify the items. The complexity of the tracking test varies for each title.

Phase 2 - The obedience phase takes place in a large field, where dogs work in pairs. This phase tests the dog's reactions to loud noises as well as judging a dog's attitude and accuracy. During the obedience phase, dog's must be enthusiastic to receive a high score.

Phase 3 - The protection phase involves the judge using an assistant, referred to as the helper, to test a dog's ability to protect itself and its handler. The dog must also demonstrate their ability to be controlled while protecting. The helper wears a sleeve that is heavily padded on their arm and the dog must find and attack the helper while obeying commands.

Schutzhund training is important as most police, military, and search and rescue dogs come from Schutzhund lines and breeders. The sport is also an excellent outlet for dogs, both physically and mentally. There are also Schutzhund clubs that offer pets a chance for socialization, stimulation, and exercise. The sport of Schutzhund continues to evolve but remains an important test of physical structure and temperament.

Additional Schutzhund Reading Materials