What Breeds Can Do Schutzhund? Which Are the Best?

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Schutzhund sounds like you just sneezed, but it’s actually a German word that translates to “protection dog.” Certain dog breeds are more suitable to be protection dogs.

Schutzhund is the evaluation process of particular traits in a dog. Today, it’s a popular sport that tests a dog’s intellect and potential as a protection dog.

In fact, dog owners wonder if their dog has this potential.

So, what breeds can do Schutzhund? The best breeds for Schutzhund include German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinscher, Giant Schnauzers, Bull Mastiffs, Great Danes, Great Pyrenees, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherd, Cane Corsos, American Bulldogs, Boxer, Bouvier des Flanders and Beaucerons.

These dog breeds possess a strong love for their owners and a powerful instinct to guard family and home. Many of them are big and strong-bodied, which helps them do their job well. 

If you’re interested in getting into Schutzhund or wonder if your dog has what it takes for this sport, here are some other things you need to know.

What is Schutzhund? 

History

Schutzhund, German for “protection dog”, originated in Germany in the early 1900s where it was created for German Shepherds as a way of determining the ability of a dog to work as a shepherd. Over time, the need for a shepherd dog dwindled, but by then Schutzhund had caught the interest of dog owners who turned it into a sport.

It caught on quickly, with difficult tests of dogs’ physical and temperament for breeding. The high standards of these tests eliminated many dog breeds right away.

In Europe, they used it for breeding purposes with the hopes of breeding and raising dogs that could pass the Schutzhund. 

Today, in the United States, Schutzhund is a competitive sport, instead of a breeding tool that includes other breeds besides German Shepherds. The tests expectations are high standards, many of the dogs are eliminated early on. 

Three Parts of Schutzhund

Schutzhund has three specific parts. The dog and handler must pass all three during in one trial to be awarded a Schutzhund.

  • Tracking
  • Obedience
  • Protection work 

Each part of the test is worth 100 points. All dog breeds and mixed breeds are eligible to compete, but there is a jump that is 39 inches high, so this eliminates many dogs.

Plus, a dog must pass the protection part. The dogs that compete and earn all 300 hundred points to earn a Schutzhund title, are the breeds you might expect like, German Shepherd, Rottweilers, Boxers, Dobermans, Pinschers and Bouviers and Belgian Malinois. 

What Breeds are Best for Schutzhund?

There are several dogs that are best for Schutzhund. Here are the top four breeds that are well-known protectors. 

Rottweilers

Rottweiler with chain around neck laying on grass

Rottweilers were originally bred as cattle dogs and military dogs. They are extremely intelligent, dedicated to their families and big protectors. They are willing This breed needs a calm confident, strong-handed owner to thrive best.

Although they’re protection dogs, they’re very sensitive and dependent on their owner.  They have a powerful body, although they aren’t very tall. 

German Shepherd

Brown German Shepherd

German Shepherds were used historically by the military and police. They’re intelligent, loyal and loving.

They’re also strong, but not huge, although they look large mostly because of their thick fur. German Shepherds need lots of attention. Left alone too much, they will develop bad habits and behavior problems. 

Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Biting at the air

Dobermans are extremely protective dogs, but they’re still loving, sensitive and brave. Their size is intimidating, making them one the best breed of guard dogs.

They’re quick and need lots of exercise. Doberman’s loyalty to their family and home makes them superb protection dogs. 

Bull Mastiff

Bull Mastiff with Chain

Bull Mastiffs are large, strong dogs. Their imitating size makes them great protectors. They can easily meet the standards of Schutzhund.

They’re more independent than Shepherds, Dobermans, and Rottweilers. Typically, Mastiffs aren’t the best choice for a first time owner who may not be able to handle them. 

What Traits Make a Good Schutzhund dog?

Once a dog passes all three Schutzhund tests, they’re eligible for police work, search and rescue, odor detection and others. Schutzhund identifies dogs that have characteristics for these types of jobs.

The traits required to meet the demands of a protection dog include:

  • Strong motivation to work
  • Courage
  • Smart
  • Loyal bond to handler
  • Trainable
  • Protective
  • Good sense of smell

Schutzhund also tests for physical traits like: strength, endurance, agility and scent. Its goal is to enhance the dog’s character and ability to learn. 

Other breeds like Retrievers, Setters, and Pointers, are taught to have what’s called a “soft” mouth. A soft mouth is a behavior tendency in these breeds to carry or hold their prey gently

This is important for a hunting dog, but not a protection dog. But, occasionally you’ll see one of these breeds do well in the sport. 

Difference Between A Guard Dog And A Protection Dog

There is a difference between a watchdog, guard dog, and a protection dog. 

Watchdogs

These dogs bark when someone comes to the door or there’s an unusual noise. This is a typical dog behavior that doesn’t require training or strength. Small chihuahuas make good watchdogs.

Guard dogs

Guard dogs are more physical in the defense of their home and family. They bark and could bite if needed. They need training and are usually confined to a fenced-in yard

Patrol dogs or sentry dogs

These dogs are like a guard dog, but they’re trained to patrol in a specific area. They also work more independently than other dog professionals. A patrol dog must be self-confident, smart and independent. 

Personal protection dogs

Personal protection dogs are guard dogs that protect a specific person or family. Dogs used for personal protection need special training so they can work safely with friends, family, and guests. 

Attack dogs

Attacks dogs are used primarily for military and police work. They have the skills needed to perform in difficult jobs. They receive training to enhance their potential as protection dogs. 

Are Schutzhund dogs safe?

Schutzhund dogs are sometimes intimidating. People should understand that Schutzhund tests the temperament of a dog to see if they’re steady and focused. A dog who meets these standards is obedient and not easily frightened. They are predictable dogs, controlled by their handler. This should ease people’s fear of Schutzhund tested dogs.

What are Some Schutzhund Tests?

There are three parts to a Schutzhund test. Within each part, the dog is put into specific situations where he must perform perfectly.  Here is a sample of the three tests.

  • Temperament testThe judge commands the dog to stand in a crowd of people. 
  • ObedienceThe dog must heel while in the midst of a crowd of people. He has to sit while listening to the gunshot.
  • Protection testThe must hold and guard without touching the helper. The dog obeys the release command when given the command or he will fail. 

How Do I Get Started In Schutzhund

If you’re interested in Schutzhund and think your dog may perform well, here are a few ways to get started. 

  1. Find a Schutzhund club you like. Check out several clubs in your area. Talk with their members and see which club fits your style. Every club has a different feel and emphasis on different training techniques or styles. Many suggest you join a club before you buy a dog. This gives you the advantage to have a group for support to help pick out a puppy and for training. 
  2. Look for a mentor. Find a mentor who trains his or her dog the way you want to train your dog. Watch what they do, ask questions and apply what you learn to your dog. The mentor you choose should have a training program for you to follow. 
  3. Be patient. Schutzhund training takes time. If your dog is young, It may take years for him to mature and learn this training. Short sessions are best with consistent training will be the most helpful. 
  4. Understand your dog. Working with your dog will build a bond between you two. As you work with your dog, learn how he thinks, what he likes and dislikes. Learn what kind of praises motivates him. Getting a feel for your dog will help you train him. 

Schutzhund is a tough test of a dog’s temperament and character. It’s not for every dog, there’s a shortlist of dog breeds that make the cut.

As a sport, it’s a great opportunity to show off your dog’s performance and skills as a protection dog. Schutzhund clubs across America hold trials to give dogs the opportunity to earn a Schutzhund title and their handlers a chance to see if how well their dog is doing.

If you’ve thought about getting your dog into Schutzhund, now may be the perfect time to try it out.

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