Schutzhund FAQ: What is Schutzhund??? Presented by the Treasure State Working Dog Association
The literal translation from German to English of the word "Schutzhund" (protection dog) is really quite misleading. To help acquaint you with this complicated, three level, three phase dog sport, following you will find a simple and condensed explanation of Schutzhund rules, regulations, and the point system used.
Schutzhund originated in Germany as a test for the German Shepherd Dog (GSD) so that breeders could evaluate and pick only the highest quality dogs for their breeding programs. Even today, no German Shepherd Dog can be bred in Germany without a Schutzhund title.
Schutzhund offers three levels of titles, and there are three phases to each title. One must obtain a passing score in all three phases in order to obtain a title, and be able to advance to the next training level.
The titles are:
Sch H I (novice)
Sch H II (intermediate)
Sch H III (master level)
There is also an advanced tracking degree offered, FH.
The sport is designated for all athletic dogs with correct working abilities and is not restricted to a particular group or breed of dog. Schutzhund is now the fasted growing Dog Sport in North America!
Schutzhund Training Phases
For each of the three titles already discussed above, there are three distinct phases: tracking, obedience, and protection.
In this phase, the dog must draw from inherited abilities by using his/her nose to find a person's track and discover articles that have been dropped along the way. Depending upon the title sought, all tracks will vary in length, shape and age. Tracking is usually done in dirt or on grass. A perfect score is 100 points, with a minimum of 70 needed to pass.
The obedience phase involves numerous and demanding exercises which include heeling on and off leash, a gunfire test, walking through a group of people, motion exercises, recall, a 10-20 minute long down, retrieving, and jumping. A set pattern is demonstrated by the handler from memory (unlike AKC obedience, where the judge calls the pattern for you). A perfect score is 100 points, with 70 needed to pass.
This phase of Schutzhund training is very intricate, advanced, and taught with control in mind. It should not be confused or compared in any way with guard dog or police protection training. A dog competing in the sport of Schutzhund must always prove to have a reliable temperament and must show courage without viciousness. The "bad guy" or "helper" as he is known in the sport always wears protective leather pants and a special sleeve with a burlap cover. The dog is allowed to bite this sleeve and he must bite this in the correct manner. On command, the dog MUST release the bite. A dog will fail if it does not release the bite when commanded to do so. A perfect score is 100 points, with 80 points needed to pass.
Many people view the sport of Schutzhund like preparing for an Olympic Event. One must see their dog as an athlete and learn all the aspects of conditioning, proper diet, and the psychology of it all -- for one's self as well as for the dog.
To compete in the breed ring is a start; to obtain an obedience title is certainly an advancement; to compete in Schutzhund is the ultimate!