What is Schutzhund?
The literal translation from German to English of the word “Schutzhund” is “protection” or “guardian” dog, but that’s really quite misleading. To help acquaint you with this complicated, three level, three phase dog sport, we offer the following simple and condensed explanation of Schutzhund rules, regulations, and the point system used.
Schutzhund originated in Germany as a breeding suitability test for the German shepherd dog and was quickly adopted for use by other working breeds such as the Malinois and Rottweiler. It provided breeders with a method to evaluate temperament, character, trainability, willingness and mental and physical soundness and to select and use only the highest quality dogs for breeding programs. Today, German shepherd dogs in Germany may not be bred without acquiring Schutzhund titles, a breed survey, a conformation rating, hip (spine and elbow) x-rays and a certificate of endurance.
In response to political forces in Germany, in 2004 the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (SV) and the Deutscher Hundesportverein (DHV) made substantial changes to Schutzhund. The DHV adopted the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) rules that govern IPO titles, so that at least on paper the SV and DHV gave up control of the sport to the FCI. The DHV changed the name of the titles from “SchH” (Schutzhund) to “VPG” (Vielseitigkeitsprüfung für Gebrauchshunde which roughly translates Versatility examination for working dogs). The SV has retained the “SchH” title names, but otherwise conforms to the DHV/FCI rules.
In addition to its value as a breeding tool, Schutzhund is also an exciting sport and training challenge. It can be described as “stylized police dog training” and is the foundation training many of the imported police dogs receive before they go on to specialized training for the street.
Schutzhund involves three phases: Tracking, Obedience and Protection. Each phase has specific tasks or exercises that the dog and handler must perform, and each phase is graded on a point system with a maximum score of 100 points in each phase. A dog and handler team must score a minimum number of points in each phase (70 in obedience and tracking, 80 in protection) in order to pass and earn a title. And all this must be done at the same trial on the same day. There are 3 levels of Schutzhund titles: SchH1, SchH2 and SchH3. Each title is progressively more difficult to accomplish as the individual exercises become harder and the overall level of accuracy required increases. The SchH3 is the highest level. Prior to trailing for a schutzhund title, all dogs must pass the BH, or companion dog test. The BH is graded pass/fail and includes an obedience test as well as a temperament test. The obedience exam involves two heeling exercises, on-lead and off-lead, the sit and down out of motion, recall with front sit, finish and long down under distraction. The temperament portion of the exam evaluates the dog's traffic sureness, and general approachability and safety. The dog must not show nervousness, fear, shyness or aggression when approached by friendly strangers, other dogs, bicyclists, joggers and the like. Nor may the dog exhibit insecurity or anxiety when left alone in the presence of strangers when the handler goes out of sight for a few minutes. All of these tests are designed to ensure that the dog
is safe and reliable and has the proper basic temperament for work, prior to continuing training and trailing for schutzhund titles. The titles are:
* SchH 1 (novice)
* SchH 2 (intermediate)
* SchH 3 (advanced)
Two advanced tracking degrees are also offered: FH and FH2.
To obtain a title, the dog and handler must pass three distinct phases at a trial: tracking, obedience, and protection.