Schutzhund is one of several European dog sports established in the early 1900′s as a way of testing the capabilities of working dogs to ensure that only the best were bred and allowed to work in police and protection dog roles. Having originated in Germany, the German Shepherd dog is the breed of choice for the sport, although other breeds such as the Belgian Malinois or Dutch Shepherd are permitted to compete.
In Schutzhund, dogs compete to earn titles which are awarded for sufficient performance various trials and exercises. Based on their score, dogs are given grades of excellent (V), very good (SG), good (G), satisfactory(M), unsatisfactory(U). During the protection exercises, dogs are also graded on their nerves and ability to handle stress. For this, judges award the dogs a grade of insufficient (nicht genugend), present (vorhanden) or pronounced (ausgepraegt).
Before a dog and handler may compete for Schutzhund titles, preliminary trials must be passed. Three certificates are offered at this level: Begleithunde (BH), Wachthund (WH) and Ausdauerprufung (AD). However, only a BH certificate enables a dog to participate in more advanced Schutzhund trials. The BH certificate shows basic obedience while WH is intended to test low-level watchdogs, and AD is simply a physical endurance test.
Once a dog has obtained the Schutzhund BH certificate, it may compete for proper Schutzhund titles. The basic title is the Schutzhund 1 (SchH1) which tests tracking, obedience and protection. There is also a Schutzhund 2 and 3 title which offer the same basic tests, but with intermediate and advanced levels of difficulty. There also obedience (OB1-3) and tracking(TR1-3) titles, again offered in three levels, which focus purely on either obedience and tracking.
Even though Schutzhund was originally intended to train and test dogs for their ability as a working police dog, its adaptation into a sport has made it somewhat ineffective for this purpose. One should always remember that Schutzhund is just a sport. If one wants a true German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois protection dog, one must train for real world scenarios; this includes working in water, and targeting the weapon hand, neither of which are covered by Schutzhund.