The Giant Schnauzer and Schutzhund

by Edward Weiss and Sally Ellis

Reprinted from What You Should Know About The Giant Schnauzer, 5th Edition ©1988

Schutzhund training developed in Germany several decades ago originally as a test of desired performance characteristics in German Shepherd Dogs. Even now, to achieve a championship title (Sieger) or to have registerable offspring in its native land, a German Shepherd must obtain a minimum Schutzhund I degree. Today, the sport Is international in scope and many breeds compete in it successfully. In Europe, the Giant Schnauzer is second only to the German Shepherd Dog in the number of Schutzhund titles completed yearly.

There are three levels of Schutzhund training, each Increasing in difficulty. They are designated by the Roman numerals I, II and III. Each level has three phases which are completed on the same day of competition: tracking, obedience and protection. Each phase allows 100 points maximum. Additionally, 10 points are separately scored for courage and hardness. The judge determines this from the dog's demeanor throughout the course of the trial, but especially in the protection phase. To obtain a degree, the dog must score a minimum of 70 (tracking), 70 (obedience) and 80 (protection) with at least 7 courage points. Points are earned in the same manner as AKC obedience scores: one begins with a maximum score and points are deducted for imperfections during the course of the performance. The combination of the three disciplines, tracking, obedience and protection, examine every aspect of the dog's character. Schutzhund Clubs also offer a number of other working titles such as the FH (advanced tracking), AD (endurance), WH (watch dog), and VB (traffic sureness).

In Germany, there are national Schutzhund championship competitions by individual breed. The championship competition for Giant Schnauzers encompasses the 20 finalists from each regional club (Landesgruppen) of the Pinscher‑Schnauzer Klub. Additionally, the competition is restricted not only to Giants with outstanding Schutzhund performances, but the dogs in competition must have been hip x‑rayed, with a rating of HDO (Clear) or HD1 (borderline).

In the United States, there are three Schutzhund organizations. NASA (North American Schutzhund Association) is the oldest. It Is the smallest of the three organizations and does not function under VDH rules therefore its titles are not recognized by the other two organizations. The other two are the DVG, an all‑breed organization, which functions as a foreign member of a German training organization and USA (United Schutzhund Clubs of America) which is offically recognized by the SV (the German Shepherd Dog Club in Germany). Both the DVG and USA function under VDH rules (a world‑wide organization based In Germany) and their titles are interchangeably recognized. A member of one organization (any of the three) may compete in the trials of any other as long as the paper work is completed. There is an offshoot forming today from the German Shepherd Dog Club of America which Is called the WDA (Working Dog Club of America). Their titles are not VDH recognized et this time.

The development of Schutzhund in the United States has been, since the early 1970's, primarily a German Shepherd endeavor. It began with the importation of already trained and titled Schutzhund dogs. Today, the importance of such dogs continues, but there is an appreciable number of domestically bred and trained dogs competing successfully for their titles. To a markedly smaller degree, other working dog breeds (and even some mixed breeds) have slowly begun to enter competition. The Rottweller, Doberman Pinscher, Bouvier de Flanders, Belgian Sheepdog, Australian Shepherd and Giant Schnauzer have all achieved Schutzhund III degrees. (Two Giant Schnauzers earned Schutzhund I titles In the 1970s: Boelto's Galan von Thor C.D. SchH I (HIT‑1976) and Donnerraln's Revolution SchH I (1977). The 1980's have produced more Schutzhund titled Giants in America including the first Schutzhund III, Falks Country Life Magic (1984). There are several other schutihund titled Giants of which we should be most proud. They and their owners worked very hard to achieve these titles.)

 What effect can one expect Schutzhund training to have on one’s Giant Schnauzer?  One myth that should be immediately dispensed with, is that it will make the dog vicious, unpredictable or overly aggressive. Quite the contrary. The rigorous obedience in the sport dictates control, not just in the obedience phase, but In all three phases. Additionally, the components of the sport will test the mettle of both the dog and the trainer. Unsound, nervous, timid, or erratic dogs will never progress through training successfully. The challenge of this sport rapidly eliminates the unsound animal. It is for this reason that other working breed clubs view the Schutzhund degree as a desirable stamp of the soundness of their working dogs. For the owner/trainer, participation in Schutzhund dramatically increases the understanding of dog training, dog character and the relationship of conformation to the function which it Is to perform.

To most Americans, the Giant Schnauzer is a wonderful companion dog. He is energetic, robust, and when properly socialized, a wonderful homebody. The preservation of his heritage, however, should include the maintenance of those functions for which he was developed. Since 1921, in Germany, he has been recognized as an official utility dog. This designation is one which encompasses all the categories of schutzhund. We are a long way from his origins at the turn of the century as a rough‑coated herding dog. Like so many herding dogs, the Giant was pressed into military and police service. It was within this context that he developed through the 1920s,'30s &'40s. The continuation of this working ability, which includes protection work, should be the responsibility of an organization whose purpose is to maintain the breed, both in structure and in character. Hopefully, as interest in dog sports increases in this country, the true courage, soundness, independence and robust character of the Giant will flower. He is more than a pretty boy and he is not a guard dog. The Giant Schnauzer, as demonstrated by the Schutzhund sport is a wonderful canine athlete who can discern friend from foe, accept the rigorous training required of an obedience worker, and yet, with equal enthusiasm, courage and confidence, matriculate through the most demanding protection work.

All future Schutzhund participants are encouraged to begin with their own puppies, concurrently socializing, training and showing prospects they deem worthy. Breeding plans should be formulated based on excellence of character that can be trained and tested for. Just as the Giant Schnauzer's development in America has remained structurally sound, Schutzhund can add its effect to the maintenance of the sound character of this wonderful working animal.


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