|Schutzhund is a German word meaning “protection dog.” It refers to a sport that focuses on developing and evaluating a dogs character by giving it
work to do and then comparing its performance with that of other working dogs. These qualities are not only products of upbringing or imprinting. They are also the result of its genetic endowment -
the quality of its parents and grandparents and their grandparents too.
Schutzhund work concentrates on three parts. tracking, obedience and protection. The Schutzhund Standards for the third part, protection work, 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.
The first Schutzhund trial was held in Germany in 1901 to emphasize the correct working temperament and ability in the German Shepherd breed. Originally, these dogs were herding dogs, but the industrialization of Germany encouraged breeders to promote the use of their dogs as police and military dogs. The Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde (SV), the parent club, became concerned that this would lead to careless breeding and undesirable traits such as mental instability, so it developed the Schutzhund test.
Since then, many other countries and working dog organizations have also adopted Schutzhund as a sport and a test of working performance in dogs. International rules have been established, and they are administered by the Verein fur Deutsche Hundesport (VDH).
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 enjoy Schutzhund as a sport. Often, it is a family sport.
Do dogs enjoy Schutzhund? If trained in the right manner, dogs enjoy working, as anyone who attends a Schutzhund competition can see. The joy of the dogs working with their handlers is evident. 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 dog and owner find in this sport.