Schutzhund (German for protection dog) is a dog sport which originated in Germany in the early 1900's as a breeding suitability test for the German shepherd dog and was quickly adopted for use by other working breeds such as the Malinois, Dobermann 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. 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.
There are three Schutzhund titles: Schutzhund 1 (SchH1/VPG1/IPO1), Schutzhund 2 (SchH2/VPG2/IPO2), and Schutzhund 3 (Sch3/VPG3/IPO3). SchH1 is the first title and SchH3 is the most advanced. Additionally, before a dog can compete for a SchH1, it must pass a temperament test called a BH (Begleithundprüfung which translates as "traffic-sure companion dog test").
To obtain a SchH/VPG/IPO title, the dog and handler must pass three distinct phases at a trial: tracking, obedience, and protection.
Phase A: Tracking
In this phase, the dog must draw from inherited abilities by using his nose to find a person’s track and discover articles that have been dropped along the way. Unlike search & rescue where the dog relies primarily on “air-scenting”, Schutzhund tracking is very focused on the footsteps, and is scored largely on the precision of the dog’s performance. Depending upon the title sought, 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. To see sketches of the tracking patterns or layout please follow the link. You will also find more information in each of the sections on trial type/level (follow the appropriate link)
Phase B: Obedience
The obedience phase showcases the dog's inherent joy in the work balanced with precision and control. The exercises include heeling on and off leash, walking through a group of people, sit, down and/or stand while moving, recall, a 10+ minute long down while another dog is working on the field, retrieving, and jumping. Two shots are fired from a blank gun during the heeling and long down, and the dog must not react adversely. A set pattern is demonstrated by the handler with a perfect score being 100 points, with 70 needed to pass. For details of the Obedience heeling pattern or sketches of the various obedience jumps please follow the appropriate link. You will also find more information relevant to the specific trial/level that you are interested in by following the appropriate link on this page.
Phase C: Protection
In the protection work phase the dog must energetically locate and guard (without touching) a concealed criminal, prevent an escape by the criminal and stop a pursuing criminal. He is rated on self-confidence, ability to work under pressure, toughness and resilience, steadfast nerves, well-balanced drives and willingness to take directions and be responsive to the handler. Obedience and control are demonstrated throughout the protection phase through off-lead exercises and through guarding without biting.
A maximum 100 points are awarded for each of the three test phases, a passing score being 70 for tracking, 70 for obedience and 70 for protection. A 210 point total will earn a basic qualification degree, while higher scores of course are rewarded with more prestigious ratings and titles.
Working Test Rules and Patterns
We have included pages on the following tests also which include the rules and patterns: