Schutzhund Dog or Protection Dog?

Schutzhund is a dog sport originally designed as a breed suitability test for the German Shepherd.  It was a test that was designed such that those dogs that passed the requirements would be suitable for breeding.  The sport was invented in Germany with the first trial being held in 1901.  Thanks to the popularity of the sport several countries outside of Germany began practicing sports that are very similar.  One will find that titles earned in other countries other than Germany and labeled SVV, ZVV, and IPO as the comparable Schutzhund titles.  Nowadays the sport is competed in by many other breeds other than the German Shepherd including the Belgian Malinois, Rottweiler, Doberman, Giant Schnauzaer, Airedale Terrier, American Bulldog amongst others.  In a Schutzhund trial each dog competing for his Schutzhund I, II, or III titles competes in three different areas:


Each dog and handler team are put through a routine where they are required to do several paces of heeling, sitting, lying down, coming when called amongst other obedience exercises.  The dogs compete on a field and various distractions are added to make the obedience routine more difficult.

While the obedience foundation for a Schutzhund dog is an excellent level of training it is not very useful to the owner who keeps a dog as a pet and protection companion.  Schutzhund obedience is a routine or ‘dance’ where the dog simply learns to navigate a pre-determined set of instructions.  Owners of protection dogs do not need a dog to heel around simple distractions on a competition field.  They need a dog who is obedient around the distractions that occur in every day life.

Every Protege K9 that has a Schutzhund background goes through our extensive Remote Method to take a foundation of Schutzhund obedience and make it useful for new owners that require the highest level of everyday obedience.


A dog who competes in Schutzhund is trained to follow a scent trail and indicate several dropped objects that are left on that scent trail.

While this is a fun test and training exercise it offers little in the way of practicality.  The test requires the dog to track a human across a relatively controlled area.  There is little in the way of obstacles.  In order to train a dog to reliably track a lost child or family member the Schutzhund dog would be required to have more extensive tracking training.


Perhaps the most exciting phase of the Schutzhund routine is the ‘protection’ phase.  In this phase the dog is commanded to search areas for a hidden decoy, bite and detain the bad guy, release on command, and other related behaviors.

While the protection phase of the Schutzhund routine may be a foundation for teaching real protection skills it does not by itself a protection dog make.  There are many who claim that a Schutzhund dog is the same as a protection dog but this is not the case.  Every Protege K9 that has a Schutzhund foundation must go through extensive conversion training in order to turn the ‘protection’ from Schutzhund into something real and valuable for their new owners.

The drawback of the Schutzhund protection phase is that it is not real for the dog.  The dog is required to bite a very large and obvious training sleeve.  The ‘bad guy’ is often shouting or making large and grandiose gestures with a stick.  This behavior from the ‘bad guy’ serves to get the dog revved up but does little to prepare a dog for a real situation where a mugger or intruder would never enter a situation screaming and making foolish gestures.

While we think that Schutzhund training can make a solid foundation on which you can build a protection dog it is unfortunate that many well respected dog trainers have used this sport to scam unsuspecting members of the public who wish to own protection dogs.  There are today many trainers quite accomplished in the field of Schutzhund who sell their dogs and other dogs from the sport calling them protection dogs without every haven given them any real protection training.  For just as many trainers doing this type of practice there are also just as many stories you can find for Schutzhund dogs who did nothing to protect an owner from a dangerous situation or a home from being burglarized.

Our conversion program for Schutzhund dogs is second to none and utilizes muzzles, hidden sleeves, civil agitation, and other methods in order to train the dog that a real bad guy may act very subtly and may not make his malicious intentions clear through yelling, charging, and waving sticks and whips in a frenzy.

Schutzhund is a valuable sport but should not be used as a means of training a protection dog.  Thanks to our conversion program we are able to take the foundational skills learned in this sport and turn them into real protection.  This conversion program is one of the things that make us different from the ordinary companies out there who are selling these dogs with false promises of protection.