Koninklijke Nederlandse Politiehond Vereniging (KNPV) is a popular dog-sport based out of the Netherlands. The name literally means “Royal Dutch Police Dog Association”, and it was founded in the early 1900′s as a way of testing the ability of dogs for their suitability for breeding and work as a police dog. As with any sport, the rules and exercises are clearly defined to ensure fairness among competitors. After over a century, the rules and titles involved in KNPV have changed and grown considerably, but the basic concepts remain.
In KNPV, a team consisting of a dog and its handler compete to obtain varying levels of certification. Points are awarded or deducted based on performance in various exercises, and certificates are awarded to dogs who are able to obtain a high enough score. The most basic title in KNPV is known as Politiehond 1 (PH1). Competing dogs must first obtain this title before attempting any of the more challenging titles, and in Holland, a dog must have this title before it can work as a police dog. Obtaining this title involves completing exercises in obedience, scent work, water work, and protection. A score between 302 and 347 out of 440 possible points is enough for the dog be awarded Certificaat A, which lasts for one year. A score above 348 awards the dog a full PH1 certificate, and a score above 402 awards the dog a Certificaat Met Lof (certificate with honors).
After completing PH1, it is up to the handler to decide whether or not to continue training for a more advanced title. Possible titles are Politiehond 2 (PH2), Object Bewakinghond (ObjBW), Speurhond (SpH), and Reddingshond (RH). PH2 includes the same exercises as PH1, but at a more advanced level. ObjBW is considered a specialised Guard Dog title. It includes many of the same exercises as PH1, but does not include water work, and has a stronger focus on guarding. SpH is a very specialised title that focuses on complex tracking and scent work exercises. The exercises are judged harshly, and only about 20% of dogs attempting this title are able to obtain it each year. Finally, RH is a specialised title that focuses on search and rescue operations with exercises that simulate the rescuing of a drowning person, or a person trapped under rubble.
KNPV is both incredibly important in maintaining the quality of working breeds such as the German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois, as well as promoting standards for the training of police dogs, protection dogs, and guard dogs. However, as honorable as the sport is, one should always remember that KNPV is just a sport. A true protection dog should be trained for real world scenarios, and not for sport.