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Schutzhund Training

 Reviewed 16 April 2020 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion dogphoto

Is Schutzhund Training or Schutzhund Sport right for you?

And for your dog?

Find out here! The better English language books I link in the text, in the order I like them most.

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. Loosely, not precisely, translated as "protection dog".

Indeed, genuine German Shepherd Schutzhund Training ends with a series of tests of the dog's capabilities. Under v. Stephanitz, 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 German Shepherd Schutzhund 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, guess what happened?

  • First, testing regulations were loosened (already during v. Stephanitz' life).
  • Finally, the breeding control was skipped altogether! (After v. Stephanitz' death)

Guess what happened then?

Some SV Augsburg club functionaries and other lobbyists went on an adventure!

The adventure to breed new characteristics into the original, much loved GSD. Like a snack company does: When snickers is successful, why not offer everything from snickers icecream to snickers easter eggs as well! Right?

Dogs that cannot do Schutzhund Training

The sad outcome is: Today there are more crippled hyena shaped "GSDs" than original German Shepherds. And it has not to do with show dog versus working dog, no:


None of them with this anatomical defect is able to persevere in genuine German Shepherd Schutzhund Training, let alone pass the original German Shepherd Schutzhund test.

This alone says everything about the mutilation that has been committed as the crime of the century to the German Shepherd Dog breed by brainless breeders.


Dogs that passed Schutzhund Training

Conversely, some other still proper DOG breeds that successfully passed german Schutzhund classes are:

  • Rottweiler Schutzhund
  • Doberman Schutzhund
  • Malinois Schutzhund
  • Belgian Tervuren Schutzhund
  • Border Collie Schutzhund
  • Briard Schutzhund
  • Bouvier des Flandres Schutzhund
  • Airedale Schutzhund
  • Akita Schutzhund

Schutzhund Training vs Schutzhund Sport

The original Schutzhund Training devised in Germany over a hundred years ago was everything but dog sport. In fact, dog sport didn't exist at the time, it is a modern pastime thanks to people no longer needing to work all the time.

Today, the original training and testing a dog has been morphed into dog sport training and competition that is more entertaining for spectators and dog owners alike.

Such Schutzhund Sport primarily exists in the USA where more people have more time for pastime.

Conversely in Germany and throughout Europe the original training and testing a dog has merely been loosened to allow a greater number of dog owners to pay admission fees.

And so today many other breeds are also taking part in the modern form of Schutzhund Training, although only few breeds show the strength, endurance, intelligence, and versatility of the German Shepherd to succeed in the still demanding exercises.

And even as dog sport it is demanding, yes. Both for the dog owner or handler, and for the dog.

Apart from the final paragraph this article here is not about Schutzhund Sport but Schutzhund Training the German style: as a means of dog training and testing in its original sense, as it is still being used in Germany.

What is Schutzhund Training?

Schutzhund dog training is 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.

Note though that Schutzhund Training is NOT a specific preparation for police work, as is so often reported. In fact, the majority of dogs that pass the german Schutzhund Training never even meet a police officer. Likewise, the majority of police dogs never passed German Shepherd Schutzhund Training.

Elements of Schutzhund Training

This training (and subject to implementation Schutzhund sport may too) would 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


Key part of the inherited German Shepherd temperament is to guard and to protect the herd and the shepherd.


And so this inherited part of dog personality forms the largest part of the training and testing in order to maintain a high quality of the gene pool.

During the training and testing the handler will require the dog to connect certain dog commands with specific dog behavior like guarding, defending, and attacking.

However, the dog will also be expected to act independently without receiving any commands.

For example, the dog must detect and identify certain objects or persons as presenting a threat, and notify the handler of their existence. No more, no less.

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


Another key part of the inherited German Shepherd temperament is devotion and loyalty to the owner or handler.

Note that devotion and loyalty doesn't necessarily imply obeying dog commands of the owner or handler precisely, fast, and reliably as is required for the obedience component of Schutzhund Training.

The connection between loyalty and obedience has to be trained: It is an acquired dog personality trait.

working-and-obedience-intelligenceThe obedience component of Schutzhund Training matches Stanley Coren's "dimension": Working and obedience intelligence f, as I have explained in German Shepherd Temperament: Intelligent.

However, the dog personality trait of German Shepherd intelligence has been inbred as well, which is why it is generally so much easier to get German Shepherds to obey your dog commands precisely, fast, and reliably.

Accordingly, indeed the obedience component of Schutzhund Training is where German Shepherds perform better than any other dog breed that today takes part in german Schutzhund Training.

In 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 German Shepherd Schutzhund test that must be passed to become a qualified Schutzhund.

Behavior-Training communicationNote that the obedience component of Schutzhund Training has kept its original name, yet I was delighted to see successful attempts by a few dog owners (not the handlers) to replace a lot of their former obedience with command and cue-less trained behaviors based on acceptance, like I established it and promote it with Behavior Training!

Meaning, HOW you get your dog to behave the way you need for either Schutzhund Training or Schutzhund Sport is up to you! Why not do what gives you more success after having tried both for the same amount of time?

In many courses handlers use a standard set of Schutzhund commands adapted from established dog commands. Below I provide a list of them.

While not all handlers in all courses use the same Schutzhund commands, it is essential that the handler and dog owner use the same commands.

Schutzhund Commands

Note that (obviously) standardization hasn't reached all Schutzhund Training providers, and less so all Schutzhund Sport organizers.

In the more demanding courses however the dog must comply with ALL below commands precisely, fast, and reliably in order to succeed in all exercises.

Comemake the dog come towards youHierher
Sitmake the dog sit at the current positionSitz
Downmake the dog lie down at the current positionPlatz
Standmake the dog stand up when (s)he is in Sit or Down positionSteh
Staymake the dog stay at the current positionBleib
Gomake the dog start walking or runningLauf
Searchmake the dog go off to find a shown itemSuch
Trackmake the dog track and follow examples of a shown itemFolge
Leave itmake the dog not pick up an item in the mouthNein
Fetchmake the dog bring to you a shown itemBring
Out = Drop Itmake the dog release onto the ground any item (s)he has in the mouthAus
Releasemake the dog relax from obedience obligationsFrei
Speakmake the dog barkSprich
Quietmake the dog stop any whining or barkingRuhe
Watchmake the dog focus on you and not be distractedAchtung
Heelmake the dog walk next to you, on the appropriate side, at your paceFuss
Followmake the dog walk slightly behind youFolge
Behind left or Behind rightmake the dog walk around you left way or right wayHinten links, hinten rechts
Turn left or Turn rightmake the dog change walking direction when ahead of youBieg links, bieg rechts
Jumpmake the dog jump over any form of barrierSpring
Stopmake the dog stop doing whatever (s)he is doing right nowStopp
Bitemake the dog bite into a given objectFass
Holdmake the dog hold in the mouth whatever (s)he is biting onHalt
Guardmake the dog watch over an object or person and stop it from movingBewach


In the third component of German Shepherd Schutzhund Training the dog must identify and follow a track laid out by the handler, and the dog must notify the handler of the objects found.

The 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 the 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 Watch or Focus, and Track Schutzhund commands, during Tracking the dog must recognize the specific scent of the shown object and then pursue it until called off.

Additional Elements of Schutzhund Dog Training

There exist more elements of German Shepherd Schutzhund Training. Schutzhund classes vary enormously with the education and training the handler has received himself or herself.

Accordingly today many Schutzhund classes seem to include Clicker training as well. Although not all Schutzhund trainers will use a clicker f, Dog clicker training has become a nearly universal dog training method.

Another element of Schutzhund Training can be Dog bite training.

However, Bite training mostly is limited to being a minor part of the protection training component of Schutzhund Training.

Schutzhund Training in a Nutshell

At its core Schutzhund Training exists to provide the participating dogs 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.

Is Schutzhund Training for my Dog?

If you consider to participate in German Shepherd Schutzhund Training with the purpose to achieve a higher training standard with your dog, be sure to first research the differences in the Schutzhund courses offered in your vicinity, and to consider whether their agenda meets your interest and needs?

And of course, compare the cost in relation to what you aim to gain from your chosen Schutzhund Training or likewise your chosen Schutzhund Sport:

  • 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?

Finally, make sure that you feel comfortable with the strain that this kind of training or sport will put on your dog - and that your dog will feel comfortable with that!

Schutzhund Training Age

Here's my opinion:

  • I strongly believe, starting with Schutzhund Training when the dog is 6 years or above is too late: too stressful for the dog.
  • Likewise, I strongly disagree with those organizers who admit a puppy during growth, of course to earn fees etc! In my opinion a German Shepherd puppy should not start Schutzhund Training or Schutzhund Sport before age 12 months!



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