German Shepherd Schutzhund: Introduction Guide



German Shepherd Schutzhund is a modern day dog sport that has an interesting origin and evolution throughout the years.

Since 2004, IPO and Schutzhund have virtually the same rules.

In the following German Shepherd Schutzhund Introduction Guide, we have explained the sport, its tests, training, commands, breeds that participate, where the find the best German Shepherd Schutzhund puppies for sale, clubs and events and trials.

This article is written from a beginner’s perspective – if you are an experienced Schutzhund participant or trainer, we’d love to hear your feedback in the comments on how we can improve the guide.


What Is German Shepherd Schutzhund?

Schutzhund is a German phrase for ‘protection dog’.

The actual sport of Schutzhund was developed not long after the registration (early 1900’s) of the first German Shepherd Horand von Grafrath. Read more about Horand and the creation of German Shepherds in The Ultimate Guide To German Shepherd Dogs and Puppies.

The necessity for the development of German Shepherd Schutzhund was to come up with a test to determine if a German Shepherd dog possessed the necessary temperament, characteristics and ability as a working dog – particularly in defence, military and protection based fields of work.


What Does German Shepherd Schutzhund Test?

The German Shepherd Schutzhund sport in the modern day is very demanding and includes testing in the areas of tracking, obedience and protection:


German Shepherd Schutzhund Tracking

Tests scenting ability, mental soundness and physical stamina/endurance. 


German Shepherd Schutzhund Obedience

Obedience tests mental traits of focus, enthusiasm, courage, intelligence and teamwork.

The German Shepherd will work in tandem with another dog switching between ‘the field’ and a stationary position.

The field work involves heeling, non reaction to loud noises such as gunshots, recalls, retrieving over obstacles, running and laying down on command.


German Shepherd Schutzhund Protection 

The protection tests the dogs courage, focus and ability to protect itself and its owner on command, obedience to its owner/handler in protecting and retreating, and control over its temperament.

The GSD must bark to identify the threat (person wearing a bite proof sleeve), chase and bite the threat command, and release the threat on command.

Disobedient and overly aggressive dogs are poor at this test.


What Line Of German Shepherd Makes the Best Schutzhund Dog?

You usually already know you want a Schutzhund pedigree puppy before you buy, or you at least have an idea that you want to compete in working competitions – as opposed to a pure family dog or show competition dog.

These Schutzhund bred Alsatians usually come from a working line of GSD and have the following lines in them:

  • East German/DDR German Shepherd
  • West German Working Line GSD
  • Czech German Shepherd

The above lines have very high natural drives to compete, learn and work in various fields – a drive cannot be taught! 

Schutzhund is an extremely demanding sport and not every dog has the all around traits and characteristics to participate or thrive in it.

Your local Schutzhund club should be able to tell you whether your dog is suitable, in addition to your breeder of course.


German Shepherd Schutzhund Training

German Shepherds whose breeders specialize in breeding working type competition dogs and puppies provide the best German Shepherds to be trained in Schutzhund.

After buying a working dog with good working and competition pedigree, there are two options to best prepare your puppy or dog for German Shepherd Schutzhund (for best training you could train with both):

  • Books, DVDs and YouTube
  • Your closest German Shepherd Schutzhund club (you can see the American and Canadian Schutzhund clubs at the bottom of this article)

You can get a lot of theory from books, videos and other resources, and obviously the practical side from the clubs (a safe and controlled environment to responsibly train protection and attack working skills).

The best Schutzhund clubs should emphasize the responsibility as an owner and trainer that comes with teaching protection/attacking training.

They will run through tracking and obedience with you, but they should teach protection work in a professional way. Aggressive dogs should be turned away immediately.


German Shepherd Schutzhund Commands

Schutzhund Commands that are essential to a good German Shepherd Schutzhund competitor are:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Down
  • Come
  • Heel
  • Go, or Bite, or Attack
  • Stop

You can find the full list of German and English Schutzhund commands at

It is also important to note that a lot of Schutzhund trainers and clubs use clicker training these days, but some don’t. Ask your local club whether this is required.


Schutzhund Dog Breeds

Obviously German Shepherds compete in the sport of Schutzhund as it was originally created for them.

But, Schutzhund has evolved over the years to allow the involvement of other dog breeds to also compete. These breeds include Belgian Malinois, Bouvier Des Flanders, Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers. 

Other dog breeds known to have participated in Schutzhund include Boxers, Cane Corso, Giant Schnauzers, Dutch Shepherds, Beaucerons, American Bulldogs, Black Russian Terriers, Airedale Terriers and Australian Sheep and Cattle Dogs/Kelpies – although for these breeds it is less common.


German Shepherd Schutzhund Breeders and Dogs/Puppies For Sale

The decision to buy a working line or high drive dog is not one to be made lightly – you should know what you are getting when you buy one of these puppies. Working line German Shepherds have a very high drive and appetite for physical and certainly mental stimulation and challenge.

At The Daily Shep, we have put together a Guide which allows you to find German Shepherd puppies and breeders by State and locality:

German Shepherd Breeders: Find Best US Breeders Near You 

We have also found a breeder who specializes in competition winning pedigree GSDs and is a part of the AKC German Shepherd puppy marketplace (as of July 3). Note that there are more breeders than this though and you can search the AKC marketplace for Schutzhund Alsatians yourself.

If you go to independent breeders, you can check their reputation and legitimacy by asking for registration with an official dog organisation, or check with the organisation themselves to see if they have this breeder on their records.


German Shepherd Schutzhund Club – USA and Canada

If you contact your country’s parent German Shepherd club, they should be able to put you in touch with Schutzhund clubs closest to you. In America, the parent club is The German Shepherd Dog Club of America. Here are the official Schutzhund Clubs of the USA and Canada:

United Schutzhund Club of America

German Shepherd Schutzhund Club of Canada

 These are the clubs that can provide you with the specialised Schutzhund training aswell.


German Shepherd Schutzhund Titles, Trials and Events

The AKC holds Schutzhund Trials and Events. You can check them out at AKC Events. Otherwise here is a list –

  • International Novice Schutzhund
  • International Intermediate Schutzhund
  • International Master Level Schutzhund
  • Novice Schutzhund
  • Intermediate Schutzhund
  • Master Level Schutzhund
  • Novice Schutzhund A


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