What is schutzhund?
Schutzhund is a German word that literally translated means “protection dog”. This dog sport also known as IPO in non-German countries was originally developed as a test of working ability for German Shepherds.
As a working trial, Schutzhund/IPO measures the dog’s mental stability, endurance, structural efficiencies, its ability to scent, willingness to work, courage under duress and trainability. (Source: Schutzhund Australia)
The sport consists of three phases:
1) tracking, which includes a temperament test and the dog has to follow a person’s trail,
2) obedience, which includes heeling exercises, gun shot test during heeling, field exercises where the dog has to follow instruction to sit, lie down and stand etc. The dog is also required to retrieve over various obstacles such as a hurdle or wall, and
3) protection, which includes a search of hiding places, finding a hidden person (acting as a human decoy), and guarding that decoy while the handler approaches. The decoy wears a padded sleeve and the dog either stops on command or when the decoy discontinues the fight. Dogs that pass the tests may be suitable for a wide variety of police work.
A dog must pass all three phases in one trial to be awarded a title.
What titles can be attained?
Visit Schutzhund Australia website for information on the rules and titles.
Is my dog suitable?
Dogs of any breed, even mixes, can compete in Schutzhund. However, this dog sport is mostly suitable for working breeds including German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherd Dogs, Rottweilers, Dobermanns and Australian Cattle dogs.
For IPO/VPG I the dog must be at least 16 months old and pass an initial temperament test by the judge.
For IPO/VPG II the dog must be at least 18 months old and must already have earned its IPO/VPG I degree.
For IPO/VPG III, which is the Master’s degree, the dog must be at least 20 months old and must have earned a IPO/VPG II title.