Schutzhund, or IPO (acronym for Internationale Prüfungs Ordnung, in German), is a canine sport for protection dogs. The term Schutzhund is of German origin, and literally translates as “protection dog”. Originally designed as a test to help assess the temperament and capabilities of German Shepherd dogs, this sport has became increasingly popular among fans of different dog breeds. Nowadays, it is participated by all breeds that require a Working Test according to the FCI.

The aim of this sport is to demonstrate the intelligence and working capabilities of dogs. As such, the competitions evaluate dogs’ mental and emotional stability, structural efficiency, trainability, sense of smell, resistance, willingness to work and courage.

The competitions are also used to put the guides and dog trainers to the test. It also tests the abilities of trainers from different clubs and even different countries, since there are local and international Schutzhund championships. Many countries have a national Schutzhund team, consisting of the best handler-dog pairs within the discipline. If this interests you, this article will give you more information on Schutzhund dog training.

Dog breeds that regularly participate in Schutzhund

In the early twentieth century, German Shepherd dogs were bred with a single purpose: to be working dogs. However, an alternate trend arose in which people tried to demonstrate the great capabilities of this breed.

Only dogs that performed well in Schutzhund events were allowed to reproduce. Whilst it’s not currently a prerequisite condition, this practice continues developing in Germany to guarantee the future breeding of capable and intelligent dogs.

The most commonly used breeds for Schutzhund are the following:

Phases of Schutzhund

This sport has three different categories, with three corresponding qualifications:

  • SchH1, which is the beginner category
  • SchH2, which is the intermediate category
  • SchH3, which is the advanced category

This contest evaluates the dogs’ response time, momentum and stability, testing both their capabilities and their character. However, all dogs must be capable of competing in any category of the three Schutzhund sections:

  • Canine obedience: This evaluates the dog’s awareness towards its trainer’s instructions, and the its efficiency in carrying out such orders happily and enthusiastically.
  • Tracking: This is where the dog’s sniffing ability, concentration and perseverance is evaluated, in addition to its willingness to work with its trainer.
  • Protection/defense: This is where the dog’s courage, confidence, desire to fight and obedience to its trainer’s orders are evaluated, under a series of specially-designed conditions. This part of the Schutzhund training should be performed by an experienced professional. Poor protection and defense training can have serious consequences for the owner.

More about Schutzhund

Beyond what has been mentioned above, it isn’t only the dogs and their trainers who participate in this sport; rather, the competition’s judges and figureheads also play a very important role.

This discipline has evolved into an activity which is practiced in dozens of countries around the world at local, national and international levels. Schutzhund is undoubtedly a very competitive sport. Other dog sports that may interest you are agility contests or Cani cross – cross country running.