2 March 2022
Schutzhund is a popular protection dog sport with adherents around the world. Originally developed in Germany to test whether or not German Shepherd Dogs could be put to work in police settings, it has become the sporting gold standard for what a working protection dog can be. Officially Schutzhund is known as IGP, with one of its previous names being IPO.
All dogs can participate in Schutzhund, but the sport has historically been dominated by German, Belgian, and Dutch Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermanns, and Mastiff-type breeds. It should be stressed that temperament is more important than breed, and even some surprising breeds have successfully competed in this sport.
Schutzhund has three parts, each of which are individually scored. They are tracking, obedience, and protection. Each part must be passed if a dog and its handler are to be awarded a title. Even before formally competing, prospective dogs must pass an initial screening test known as “BH-VT”. Schutzhund attempts to set the standard for what protection dogs can be at the highest levels, and is not a sport to be casually undertaken. It can be very rewarding, but demands significant work and commitment from handler and dog alike.
While we respect the value and following of Schutzhund, it must be noted that sports and family protection dogs work very differently. Sports dogs train to perform to a very specific standard in a ring, and this is their primary reason to exist. In contrast to this, family protection dogs need to live in home settings and meet real world threats and challenges. A sports dog could theoretically protect on demand, but would more often than not be difficult to live with.
Schutzhund is a fantastic sport and can be a useful form of enrichment, but is not a substitution for realistic protection training. If you would like to discuss bridging the gap between sports and protection training, we would be happy to hear from you.