German Shepherd Schutzhund Training


Is Schutzhund Training or Schutzhund Sport right for you and for your dog? Find out here!

German Shepherd Schutzhund Training really did start out as a training of German Shepherds. It was developed in Germany around 1900 as a way to test GSDs for their suitability as Schutzhund (protection dog). Indeed, genuine German Shepherd Schutzhund Training ends with a series of tests of the dog's capabilities. Only the German Shepherds that passed the final test were allowed to be used for breeding the next generation of GSDs.

That wasn't many. The few that passed the test left such a great impression on dog lovers throughout the world that the demand for German Shepherds continually increased. To meet the ever higher demand, first testing regulations were loosened, and finally the breeding control was skipped altogether. The outcome is that today there are more hyena GSDs than genuine German Shepherds:

hyena gsd

So, genuine German Shepherd Schutzhund Training is not dog sport, but one of the most demanding forms of dog training and testing. However in some parts of the world, Schutzhund Training as a means of training and testing a dog has been morphed into dog sport, foremost in the USA.

This article is not about Schutzhund Training as a sport but as a means of dog training and testing in its original sense (and as it is still being used in Germany).

Today, many other breeds are also taking part in Schutzhund Training/ Schutzhund Sport, although only few breeds show the strength, endurance, intelligence, and versatility of the German Shepherd to succeed in this very demanding exercise (even as a sport it is demanding).

Is Schutzhund Dog Training for my Dog?

Before you consider to have your dog take part in German Shepherd Schutzhund Training, be sure to understand what it genuinely is about. This article will help you with that.

What is Schutzhund Dog Training?

Schutzhund training is a systematic training and testing of the abilities and character of an individual dog. Mark the emphasis on "systematic" - after all it is a training developed in Germany.

German Shepherd Schutzhund Training is VERY demanding, more so for the dog than for the owner, but the owner is involved too! However, Schutzhund Training is NOT a specific preparation for police work, as is so often reported. In fact, the majority of dogs that pass the Schutzhund Training never even meet a policeman or policewoman, and equally the majority of police dogs never passed German Shepherd Schutzhund Training.

Basic Elements of Schutzhund Dog Training

This training (and subject to implementation the sport too) will challenge your German Shepherd in every regard, but the core training goals are:

  • Protection of the handler and/or an assigned object
  • Obedience to the handler in all circumstances
  • Tracking and following of identified items


It is part of the German Shepherd's genetic nature to guard and to protect, hence this forms a big part of the training and testing in order to maintain a high quality of the gene pool. During the training the handler will teach your dog to connect certain dog commands with specific behavior like guarding, defending, and attacking.

However, your dog will also be trained to act independently without receiving any commands. For example, your dog must detect and identify certain objects or persons as presenting a threat, and notify the handler of their existence.

During the training your dog must demonstrate enormous strength, focus, will power, and endurance - and this consistently - in order to proceed in the Schutzhund Dog Training.

Protection Dog Training has its own article here on MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG.


As you will know, German Shepherds are very loyal by nature, but this does not automatically imply that they will obey their owner, namely you. To be able to connect the loyalty with obedience to certain commands, your dog must be trained.

Therefore this is the second big component of German Shepherd Schutzhund Training. Initially the dog must obey the handler. After some weeks of training there generally is a handover to the owner under supervision of the handler. The final phase requires the dog to obey the owner, but no longer the handler. This is an important part of the process to train a qualified Schutzhund.

Basic obedience training is the first true test in Schutzhund Dog Training. There are about 16 dog obedience commands used in most courses. Full completion requires mastery of all 16 training points.

Obedience Dog Training has its own article here on MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG.


In the third part of German Shepherd Schutzhund Training your dog must identify and follow a track laid out by the handler, and the dog must notify the handler of the objects found. Your dog must not give up or show lack of interest. Because of the comparatively little involvement of the handler, this part of the training demands most of your dog in terms of own initiative, focus, and perseverance.

Trained German Shepherds are very well suited to track different objects, including the more prominent objects like drugs, bombs, and cadavers. Using the Focus, Find, and Track obedience cues, Schutzhund Dog Training will teach your dog to recognize the specific scent of its target and then to pursue it until called off.

Additional Elements of Schutzhund Dog Training

There are more elements of German Shepherd Schutzhund Training. Schutzhund classes will vary enormously with the education and training the handler has received himself or herself. Accordingly, today most Schutzhund classes seem to include Clicker dog training. Although not all Schutzhund trainers will use a dog training clicker, Clicker dog training has become a nearly universal method that works very well with German Shepherds too.

Clicker dog training has its own article here on MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG.

Another element of Schutzhund dog training is Dog bite training, however this only is a minor part of the Protection (training or sport) phase of German Shepherd Schutzhund Training.

The essence of Schutzhund Dog Training

The essence of Schutzhund Training is to provide your dog with a very specific set of skills in order to complete the given task quickly, smoothly, and efficiently.

German Shepherds in non-commercial Schutzhund classes might complete the training and pass the final tests at a rate of 20% or lower, so demanding this training is. However, in order to please the owner and to justify the fees paid, in commercial Schutzhund classes often almost all dogs will pass.

What do you want?

If you consider to participate in German Shepherd Schutzhund Training to train your GSD, be sure to first research the various Schutzhund courses and to consider whether the agenda meets your interest and needs? Also, compare the cost in relation to what you aim to gain from the Schutzhund Training or Schutzhund Sport (test pass, socializing, exercise, FUN, new skill sets, whatever). Finally, make sure that you feel comfortable with the strain this kind of training or sport will put on your dog - and that your dog will feel comfortable with that!

The majority of GSD owners then feel that a bit less (cost and strain) is enough, and they rather opt for more general German Shepherd Dog Training or dog sport. If that's the case for you too, make sure that you know what you want to gain:

  • Do you seek prestige?
  • Do you seek new dog skills?
  • Do you seek dog exercise or joint exercise?
  • Do you seek socializing for your dog and/or for yourself?
  • Do you seek to have FUN?
  • Do you seek professional dog training?
  • Do you seek to improve your dog-human relationship?

What is it that you want?


More here:

Dog Training vs Socialization

German Shepherd Dog Training

German Shepherd Puppy Training

House Training Dogs

Clicker Training

Dog Commands

German Shepherd Obedience Training

German Shepherd Protection Training

Professional Dog Trainers

Dog Bite Training

Miguel at 28w Can you give back a bit today?





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  18 Site Comments, ZERO SPAM Add one


    Where could I go to learn to become a professional Schutzhund trainer?


      Where do you live? How far can you travel? How much can you spend? What exactly are you looking for?
      Questions over questions - but only they would allow to answer, right?


    Hi I am located in Odessa Texas, and would like to know how to train my GSD (6weeks) for Schutzhund. If I am able to do it at home that would be great if not where could I take him. Willing to travel within state and spend needed amount.


      Rodolfo, you probably know: Schutzhund sport title is very different to Schutzhund protection training. Aren't in the USA all "Schutzhund" adverts referring to the first? I think so. If that's what you want (to participate in contests, like in dog sport) then I'd contact the local GSD clubs (see the widget in the left sidebar), they can definitely tell you where you can join close by. In Texas will be MANY I believe.

      HOWEVER: Regardless what they say, pl be considerate, don't enroll your 6 weeks old puppy just yet. There is SO MUCH more important training and development and socialization to be done at that age, I wouldn't substitute any of that for any form of "Schutzhund" training. Before 6 months of age, I wouldn't do anything in that regard (assuming you too primarily want a healthy and well-behaved adult dog, not a trophy-winning dog wreck).

      In line with the above, I'd also take a close look at the agenda/curriculum before I decide on one...


    I'd like to have my 6 month old male German Shepherd trained in schutzhund. However, I want the training rather than the sport. I live in Montgomery County of Pennsylvania and am willing to travel a little ways if need be. Are there any establishments around here that aren't based on sport?


      Not sure Christi, best may be to ask the local breed clubs/kennels. You should be able to see a widget on the left that shows your local clubs, with map and addresses :-)


    My german shepherd is 1 years old is there a training school near my home Tobyhanna Pa. 18466


    Is it possible to ONLY train in the tracking portion? We recently got a GSD as a family pet, so I'm not really interested in the first two aspects. After reading your information, I'd much prefer the Behavior Method, to the Obedience Method. However, I also deer hunt. To date, I've never lost a deer that I've shot, but I'm wondering if it's possible to train my GSD to help track a downed deer.


      Yes Avery, all is possible, incl GSDs to help hunting. However, a) this is not to be learned in Schutzhund training, and b) with gunshots I'd be worried about the GSD's sensitive hearing. GSDs do not "filter out" noises, like other breeds you may want to consider instead.


    Thanks for your quick response. I won't be using the dog to assist in hunting, only to assist in tracking, if it's necessary. I hunt deer with bow and arrow, so they tend to run farther than if shot with a gun. But I haven't had any "bad hits" to date, and normally don't have to track a deer very far. Just want the option and would love for my GSD to be able to assist in that. Thanks again.


      Oh, then I am relaxed. I was worried you'd stress out the GSD with gunshots (they are not made for that, you know). - I still pity the deer, but that's another matter ;-)

      So, VERY brief: To train the GSD to track down the deer: next time you have a deer (I don't dare to say Killed), let your dog sniff (NOT lick) the deer (I don't dare to say Bleeding) WHILE you give a cue (eg "DEER"). You may need to repeat this (but it's rather unlikely).

      Once your dog knows the smell of a ... deer and the cue "DEER", simply send him/her off like "FIND DEER". Obviously, if you haven't yet trained the FIND command, you'd first practice with sth other than a ... deer! :-)

      Now (s)he should easily be able to track down the deer for you, no matter how far it ran! - You will know that GSDs have one of the best scents in the dog world. If a GSD can't find sth, maybe a Saint Bernard can, but that's pretty much it.

      Oh, and so that the dog merely notifies you, make sure you also train the dog to sit or stand next to any found object and BARK (instead of licking/investigating it, which is a health risk!

      So, in your case, I would combine FIND with BARK when found.


    I have a very intelligent GSD that I want to put in Schutzhund training but I would prefer to have someone else train her due to health problems. I live in Wisconsin. Is there a place where this can be done? Or can come to my home?


    Do you offer this training in Northern Michigan? If so, in what locations can I look into? Thank you!


    I was wondering about white german shepherds. I have read and been told not to train white shepherds in Schutzhund training but I don't see why not. I know they were bred more for show but that doesn't make sense that I could train her in tracking/protection as well as obedience. My question is have you ever had or seen a white shepherd complete a Schutzhund trial? I know they wont be recognized by the fic but that's ok as long as I recognize her!


      White German Shepherds were not bred for show, Charles, see our Periodical on white German Shepherds. The alleged breed founder already had white GSDs, and he wasn't into show at all, but function. There is so much nonsense about German Shepherds circulating on the internet, it makes me cringe.

      I hold nothing of most of today's performances, trials, and championships with their sick election process (choosing hyenas, not dogs, excluding certain colors although they have been welcomed in the breed standard since inception, etc etc), so I can't tell you. What I can tell you though: I wouldn't even subject any GSD to formal obedience classes. See here to understand why: Dog Obedience Training. The dog world has gone awry, but it's not the dogs that have. :idea:


    We have recently immigrated to USA and have brought our two registered GSD with us from South Africa. The male has already completed his BH. AD and has a V grading. The little girl will still have to go through all that. I need to know as to who to registered them with (which association/federation) and if their are any clubs in the northern part of Georgia. Your response indeed will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


      There are no mandatory courses for your little girl in the USA, all is voluntarily.
      Please use our widget to find local clubs, it's pretty good. Else google sth like "shepherd club [your town]", "gsd club [your town]", that should make it easy to discover newbies.

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