Schutzhund

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Schutzhund (German for protection dog) is a dog sport that was developed in Germany in the early 1900s to test whether German Shepherd Dogs exhibit the traits necessary for police-type work, rather than simply evaluating a dog's appearance. Today, many breeds other than German Shepherds can compete in Schutzhund, but it is a demanding test for any dog and few are able to pass successfully.

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Traits of Schutzhund dogs

Schutzhund tests dogs of all breeds for the traits necessary for police-type work. Dogs that pass Schutzhund tests should be suitable for a wide variety of tasks: police work, specific odor detection, search and rescue, and many others. The purpose of Schutzhund is to identify dogs that have or do not have the character traits required for these demanding jobs. Some of those traits are:

  • Strong desire to work
  • Courage
  • Intelligence
  • Trainability
  • Strong bond to the handler
  • Perseverance
  • Protective Instinct

Schutzhund training tests these traits. It also tests physical traits such as strength, endurance, agility, and scenting ability. The goal of Schutzhund is to illuminate the character of a dog through training. Breeders can use this insight to determine how and whether to use the dog in producing the next generation of working dogs.

History of dog breeds commonly used in Schutzhund

The German Shepherd was developed from working herding dogs around 1900 as an all-around working dog. Within a few years it was clear that the dogs were losing their working ability. Schutzhund was developed at this time as a test of working ability for German Shepherds. Only German Shepherds that had passed a Schutzhund test or a herding test were allowed to breed and thus have their progeny registered as German Shepherd Dogs. This is true in Germany to this day. It is only by testing the working ability of every generation that the strong working characteristics of the GSD have been maintained. Dogs of any breed, even mixes, can compete in Schutzhund today, but the most common breeds are German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Giant Schnauzers, Bouvier des Flandres, Dutch Shepherd Dogs, Beaucerons, American Bulldogs, Boxers, Black Russian Terriers, Airedale Terriers, and the like.

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