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Schutzhund and the German Shepherd Dog

Many dog shows and competitions focus on the aesthetic side of the canine in question – does your German Shepherd dog have the right leg-to-body ratio, or are his or her ears in proportion to the head? But the intense competition of Schutzhund allows your German Shepherd dog to really shine – not based on appearance, but rather based on talent and training. This fiercely demanding test of endurance, intelligence, and loyalty consists of a number of different modules – including tracking, obedience, and protection, and is a valuable indicator of a German Shepherd's ability to work in diverse fields such as security and police work.

The regimen of Schutzhund, which literally means “protection dog,” began its development in the early part of the twentieth century, when breeders of German Shepherd dogs were concerned about the working viability of their stock. The test of Schutzhund was developed as a means of ascertaining working ability and certifying whether or not a dog could be truly called a “German Shepherd dog” and thus be allowed to breed. The first Schutzhund trial took place in 1901 in Germany, sponsored by the Deutsches Shaeferhund Verein (the German Shepherd Dog Club, commonly shortened to SV), although the more complete regimen as we know it today was developed in the 1920’s. While historically Schutzhund has been the sole provenance of German Shepherd dogs, today many other breeds of dog take part in Schutzhund proceedings, including the Doberman Pinscher, Boxers, Rottweilers, Bouvier des Flandres, Belgian Malinois, and Tervuren dogs – by and large, larger dogs bred for work and defense.

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