Schutzhund is a German dog sport conceived by the founder of the breed, Captain Max von Stephanitz, as a test of the desired temperament and ability of the ideal German Shepherd. As Schutzhund developed, international rules were established, and the sport has spread across the globe. There are three title levels of Schutzhund: IGP 1, IGP 2, and IGP 3. Each level consists of three phases: Tracking, Obedience, and Protection. But before all that a dog must pass their BH.
The BHThe BH consists of an obedience routine, written test, traffic portion. All first time handlers must pass a written test to complete their BH. The test is based on the general knowledge and level of safety required of a handler to enter a trial. The routine consists of basic commands such as fussing (attentive heeling) both on and off leash, motion commands, about turns, a recall, and a long down while another dog is working nearby. During the traffic portion the judge evaluates the overall impression of the dogs temperament during the exercises which could consist of a variety if exercises such as encountering a jogger of bicyclist, interaction with a neutral dog, and behavior while tethered.
TrackingThe tracking phase is designed to test the dog’s ability to follow scent in footsteps, indicate articles on the track, mental focus and concentration, problem-solving skills, and ability to work independently for a prolonged period of time at a very specific and detailed task without influence or encouragement from the handler. As dogs progress through the various levels of Schutzhund, the length and difficulty of the track increases.
ObedienceThe obedience portion is done entirely off leash. Exercises from the BH are included along with retrieving a dumbbell on the flat and over a jump, traversing the A-frame, gunfire sureness, and a send out. As dogs progress through the titles difficulty is increased and additional exercises are added, such as increasing the weight of the dumbbells, retrieving the dumbbell over the A-frame, and a stand in motion from walking and running. All the obedience exercises are tests of the dog’s temperament, structural efficiencies, and its willingness to serve its handler despite distraction, commotion, and the presence of other dogs working nearby. It also evaluates the dog’s overall physical ability, structural soundness, and athleticism.
ProtectionThe protection phase evaluates the dog’s physical and mental prowess by testing his courage, nerve, fighting instinct, ability to deal with conflict and pressure, hardness, and willingness to protect. Even more importantly it tests the dog’s self-control, overall temperament, willingness to take direction and follow the handler’s commands, and his ability to remain clear-headed and obedient even under stress. During this phase the dog will perform a search of the blinds, guard the helper in the blind, catch the helper when they run, demonstrating a full and firm grip without hesitation or fear, and complete various transport exercises. The dog must engage his opponent with strength, determination, and aggression, but he must also refrain from engaging when inappropriate, and must disengage immediately at his handler’s command.