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What is Schutzhund?

Schutzhund is a German word meaning "protection dog". It refers to a sport that focuses on developing and evaluating those traits in dogs that make them more useful and happier companions to their owners. Schutzhund work concentrates on three parts. Many are familiar with the obedience work of the American Kennel Club's affiliates and will recognize the first two parts, tracking and obedience. 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 actively involved in the sport of Schutzhund and often follow similar criteria for breeding purposes, 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.

To be a Schutzhund the dog must successfully accomplish a working dog trial in Germany that breeders use to evaluate the working ability and temperament of their dogs. Every dog in Germany, for the last 100+ years, must first pass the working dog trial prior to being used for breeding. By using this working dog trial, which is judged by impartial judges, German breeders have been able to eliminate those dogs that have undesirable qualities from the breeding program. A breeding dog in Germany must also meet other requirements; good hips, conformation, evaluation, and a DNA history of bloodlines before the dog may be bred in Germany.

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 even those with significant disabilities enjoy Schutzhund as a sport. Often, it is a family sport.

Schutzhund Trial:

There are three phases in the Schutzhund trial.

The first phase is the tracking test, the dog demonstrates his ability to track people. During the tracking test, the dog will also locate "lost" objects dropped by the person.

The second phase is obedience. The dog demonstrates his ability to work with the trainer through a series of obedience exercises - heeling, sit & stay, down & stay, stand & stay, come when called, and retrieving of a dumbbell through obstacles. This phase also tests the dog in his physical soundness.

The third and final phase of the Schutzhund trial is protection. During this phase, which is the most important, the dog must be under complete control of the trainer at all times. If the dog, at any time, demonstrates a lack of control by the trainer, the dog is immediately dismissed. During the protection phase, the dog must search a group of hiding places to find the "bad guy". Once the dog finds the "bad guy", he must only hold the "bad guy" at bay by barking. The dog is then tested in a series of scenarios demonstrating protection of the trainer with absolute control.

During the obedience and protection phases of the Schutzhund trial, the dog is shown off leash. This, more than anything else, demonstrates to all how well trained these Schutzhund dogs are.


There are three levels of Schutzhund training as follows:



For SchH1 the dog must be at least 18 months old and pass an initial temperament test by the judge. The dog must heel off leash, demonstrate the walking sit, the walking down, and the long down under distraction, as well as the send-out. It must retrieve on the flat and over a hurdle, and over the scaling wall. In tracking, it must be able to follow a track laid by its handler at least 20 minutes earlier. There are also protection tests.


For SchH2 the dog must be at least 19 months old and must already have earned its SchH1 degree. It must again pass all of the obedience and protection tests required for the SchH1 degree, but those tests, for SchH2, are made more difficult and require greater endurance, agility, and, above all, control. There is an additional walking stand exercise required. In tracking, the SchH2 candidate must be able to follow a track laid by a stranger at least 30 minutes earlier.


For SchH3, the master's degree, the dog must be at least 20 months old and must have earned both the SchH 1 and the SchH2 titles. Again, the tests now are made far more difficult. All exercises in obedience and protection are demonstrated off leash. The Walking stand is replaced by the running stand. In tracking, the dog must follow a track that was laid by a stranger at least 60 minutes earlier. The track has four turns, compared with two turns for SchH1 and 2, and there are three objects, rather than two, that must be found by the dog. The picture of obedience, strength, eagerness, and confidence presented by an excellent SchH3 team is a beautiful illustration of the partnership of human and dog.

Von England Kennels

Butch England (828) 301-3922

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Last modified: 01/16/12