We’ve already discussed work activities German Shepherds are used for and good at.
But, this guide and list is about the dog sports, competitions and recreation type activities German Shepherds do well at.
Have a read through and enjoy – you may even find something that sparks a new interest for you and your dog!
(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)
17 Dog Sports, Competitions & Activities German Shepherds Are Used For & Good At
1) Herding Trials
German Shepherds are a herding type dog, and their original breeding stock included a herding type sheep dog.
So, it makes sense they do well at herding.
Herding trials are also called herding event, stock dog trial or dog trial.
It involves herding dogs moving sheep around a field, fences, gates, or enclosures as directed by their handlers.
Schutzhund is German for ‘protection dog’.
It is a dog sport that was originally developed in Germany in the early 1900’s to test a German Shepherd’s working ability.
In modern times, it is mostly referred to as IPO – and German Shepherds tend to dominate the sport.
The main components of IPO are obedience, tracking and protection, and temperament is extremely important too.
If a dog shows fear, nervousness, extreme aggression, sound reactivity or weak nerves – they can fail.
There are also multiple levels of titling – IPO 1, 2 and 3, as well as other titles for things like alertness, tracking and endurance.
German Shepherds As IPO and Schutzhund Dogs
3) PSA (protection Sports Association)
PSA is a dog sport that tests a dog’s obedience and protection abilities.
Obedience tests the dog’s focus and overall obedience by presenting them with decoys and distractions, and the dog must perform in spite of these decoys and distractions.
Protection tests the dog’s ability to protect themselves and their owner, and presents the dog with different scenarios like car-jacking scenario, handler attacks, courage tests in the lower levels, and more scenarios in higher levels.
There are various titles – the basic PDC, and levels PSA 1 to PSA 3.
German Shepherd PSA Car Jacking Scenario
4) French Ring/Mondio Ring
Mondio combines French and Belgium dog ring protection sports.
It tests a dog’s obedience, agility (jumps) and protection skills and ability.
The obedience part tests the dog being on control in spite of distraction.
The jumps in Mondioring test the structure and willingness of the dog.
The protection phase of the competition requires that the dog demonstrate tremendous control.
There are different levels/titles – MR1 through to MR3.
5) Conformation & Breed Shows
Conformation or breed shows involve dogs being judged on how closely they match the breed standard for their breed.
They can be subjective, because the breed standard might say one thing, but different judges have different interpretations of that standard.
Two examples of major breed standards for the German Shepherd are the FCI International/European German Shepherd breed standard, and the AKC American German Shepherd breed Standard.
In 2017, a German Shepherd won the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and in previous years, German Shepherds have placed in top places but not taken out first prize.
German Shepherd Wins Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
6) Obedience Trials
Obedience trials as described by the AKC:
“demonstrate the dog’s ability to follow specified routines in the obedience ring and emphasize the usefulness of the dog as a companion to humankind. The objective of obedience trials is to recognize dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs in a manner that will reflect credit on the sport of obedience at all times and under all conditions.”
German Shepherds tend to excel at obedience due to their high level of intelligence, trainability and their breeding history.
There are different levels of obedience trials from beginner to very advanced.
German Shepherd At Obedience Dog Championships
Rally is a companion dog sport to obedience.
It involves the dog and their owner moving around to different ‘rally points’ or stations on a course and performing different skills and tasks at each one.
It tests the dog and owner’s teamwork and companionship.
Depending on the level of competition, there are usually 10-20 stations on a Rally course.
German Shepherd At Rally Trials
8) Agility Trials
Agility trials involve a dog demonstrating its agile nature and versatility by following cues from the handler through a timed obstacle course of jumps, tunnels, weave poles and other objects like A-frames, Dog Walks, See-Saws, Pause Tables, Tires or Hoop Jumps.
A German Shepherd’s athleticism and obedience helps in this sport.
German Shepherd Agility Competition
9) Tracking Trials
Tracking is a canine sport that demonstrates a dog’s natural ability to recognize and follow a scent.
It generally involves a following a scent trail without any assistance from their handler. The trail simulates a lost person or some type of search and rescue situation.
The dog might find articles of lost items along the track, and then complete the scent track.
The dog is awarded a pass or fail mark at the end.
As we’ve mentioned before, German Shepherds are good at tracking because of their fantastic sense of smell – approximately 225 million scent receptors in their nose.
German Shepherd Tracking In The Snow
10) Nose Work
Nosework is a dog sport that involves simulating tasks that detection dogs perform.
Dogs must find a specific hidden odor, ignore distractions, and alert their owner.
Detection working dogs must detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, blood, and contraband electronics such as illicit mobile phones.
So, nose work involves similar odors and scents.
German Shepherd Beginning Nose Work Training
11) Barn Hunt
In Barn Hunt, dogs locate rats (safely enclosed in aerated tubes) hidden in a straw/hay bale maze.
It’s a timed event with 3 different dog height divisions. Teams can get titles, placements, and championships.
It tests a dog’s ability to hunt vermin.
Flyball is a team based relay dog sport.
It involves teams of dogs race against each other from a start/finish line, over a line of hurdles, to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught when the dog presses the spring-loaded pad, then back to their handlers while carrying the ball.
Competitions are usually divided into sections so that dogs of equal abilities race against each other.
German Shepherd In Flyball Competition
13) Lure Coursing
A sport where dogs chase an artificial lure across a field of usually between 600 and 1,000 yards.
In Europe the field might include obstacles and jumps.
This sport is supposed to simulate dogs chasing live game (called coursing). Common animals coursed might include rabbits, foxes, hares, coyotes and feral animals.
German Shepherd In Lure Coursing Test
14) Dock Diving / Dock Jumping
A sport where dogs jump from a dock into a pool of water.
Dogs compete for either distance or height or both.
Owners will either throw a toy into the water or throw the toy into the air as the dog is about to jump to entice them to perform an optimal jump with distance.
15) Weight Pulling
In times past, dogs were used to pull cargo and breeds like Huskies have been used as sled dogs to pull sleds.
Weight pulling is a modern day sport which incorporates this pulling activity.
Weight pulling involves dogs pulling a cart or sled loaded with weight a short distance across dirt/gravel, grass, carpet, or snow.
Harnesses are used on the dog for increased safety and to minimise injury.
German Shepherd Pulls 300 Pounds
16) Disc Dog/Frisbee Dog
A really fun dog sport where dogs and their owns throw and catch discs between them.
There’s three main events – throw and catch (points for number and distance of catches in an allotted time), freestyle catch (freestyle choreographed catching sessions) and long distance catch (longest distance catch wins).
German Shepherd Disc Dog Training
More of a recreational activity. Owners have been known to take their German Shepherds hunting with them on different types of hunts and in different environments.
German Shepherds can be good for retrieving in this instance.
German Shepherd On Duck Hunting Trip
More Information & Facts About The German Shepherd Dog Breed
We’ve put together this guide with over 100 interesting pieces of information and facts about the German Shepherd Dog Breed.
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