The Difference Between Schutzhund & KNPV Dogs
Both started in the early 1900's. Schutzhund and KNPV
are great European dog sports. Schutzhund originated in Germany and the
KNPV began in Holland.
Schutzhund was started by Amax Avon Stephanitz who
is the founder of the German Shepherd breed. He designed the sport of
schutzhund to be used as a tool by breeders. Schutzhund is intended to
give a breeder a way of measuring the working ability of a dog so that
this information can be used in a breeding program. Schutzhund was originally
intended as a certification program, which in effect it still is. But
over the years it has evolved into a sport where competitors see who
can do the best job in training their dogs in the skills that are tested.
The KNPV is also known as the Royal Dutch Police Dog
Sport. The name would imply that the sport trains police dogs. This is
not correct, the dogs trained in KNPV can not and should not go directly
into police service work. The sport was originally designed to provide
a certification program by the Dutch government for civilians to train
and title dogs that would then be made available to the Dutch Police.
The fact is that many people who train in the KNPV still feel that the
purpose of the sport is to provide dogs for service work. Many of the
exercises closely relate to skills that are needed as a service dog. The
fact is that a KNPV titled dog still needs to go through 5 or 6 weeks
of additional training to get it ready to work as a street police service
dog. Over the years the KNPV has also developed into a dog sport more
than a certification program in Holland.
Many dog vendors in this country intentionally mislead
people and police agencies into believing that both Schutzhund and KNPV
dogs are qualified to become police service dogs simply because they have
obtained a Schutzhund or a KNPV title. Nothing is further from the truth.
Both dog sports train a dog to bite a man. But it's possible to train
dogs in either dog sport to bite strictly using the dogs prey drive. A
dog must be able to work in his defensive
drive and in fight
drive to be a functional police service dog.
In schutzhund the dogs are trained to track. The style
of tracking is called "competition foot step tracking." The
purpose of schutzhund tracking is not so much to teach a dog to follow
a scent (that is a simple task) as it is to test the trainers ability
to train a dog to follow scent very precisely and at a very controlled
speed. Yes the dog must follow scent but the deciding factor in this work
is not getting to the end of the track as much as it is the style at which
the dog works (slow, methodical, not getting off the track more than a
foot or two and not going by a corner by more than a body length). It
is difficult to train a schutzhund dog to track in such a way that the
pressure needed to get the dog to slow down and conform to the rules does
not bleed over into the obedience work. If it does the pressure results
in a dog that looks like it's depressed and hates the work. Training a
good schutzhund tracking dog is an ART FORM.
It is important to realize that schutzhund tracking
is no where near police service tracking. The fact is that if a dog was "FORCE
TRACKED" for sport work (which is common) it will not do police
service tracking. These force tracked dogs do not like to track as
a result of the force
that was put on it in the force training. Service dogs need to be trained
to track through drive and
tracking at speed is an important part of this training.
The KNPV does not have any tracking in their normal
certification program (they do offer a special tracking Certificate).
One of the exercises in the KNPV is to do area searches in the woods
for articles and for the helper. This is a particularity bad concept
dog that is going to become a service dog. Dog's that are first trained
to run around with their nose in the air trying to find the airborne
scent from an article or a man can almost never be trained to become
dogs where the scent comes from the ground. Tracking should always be
trained before area search.
In Holland when police agencies purchase a KNPV titled
dog the animal must first go through a selection test where it's drives
are tested for service work. Once an animal has been selected it then
goes through 6 weeks of training before it is allowed to work on the street.
In addition, the Dutch police recognize the scent restrictions of the
sport and train special tracking dogs for their scent work. These specialty
tracking dog's are almost exclusively not KNPV certificate dogs.
The protection work for Schutzhund
has little to do with police service work. The schutzhund bite work
is a very precise routine
that dogs can be "programmed" to work through. Granted, it
takes a certain level of temperament and drive to be able to perform
This drive level is so low on dogs that pass the schutzhund exam that
it almost eliminates the value of a title to a breeder like myself. Frankly
through proper training dogs can easily be schutzhund titled but these
same dogs can not come close to passing a selection test for police work,
much less be trained to do the work.
When a dog is titled in schutzhund
the judge gives his opinion on what type of "COURAGE" the dog has displayed that
day. A "PRONOUNCED" rating is the highest. The problem is that
90% of the schutzhund judges do not understand true aggression. They don't
understand fight drive and they are not willing to admit it. Dog's are
constantly given "pronounced" ratings when in fact they don't
deserve it. This is evident by the number of schutzhund titled dogs that
do not have the courage and hardness to do police service work. The problem
is that the judges confuse "very active prey drive" in the
bite work with true aggression.
The obedience in the Schutzhund sport is also very
precise. Way more than is needed for a service dog. While there is nothing
with the challenge to train a dog to perform at this level of precision
and still maintain a respectable drive, it is very difficult to do. In
most cases, with novice trainer, dogs developed minor temperament problems.
They lose over all drive because of inappropriate force being applied
by new handlers. With the advent of better videos and books in this country,
this is becoming less and less of a problem than it was 15 years ago.
While the KNPV sport does not require the same level
of precision as schutzhund, it does seem that a lot of Dutch trainers
are very hard on their dogs in obedience. I think this is because of the
fact that they have not been forced to develop other training methods
because many of their Malinois (at least the ones selected for their sport)
are so high in drive that they can take the force and still maintain drive.
In KNPV we also see a lot of dogs
(even at the national level) who are strictly prey dogs. The sport
has been gaining in popularity
in this country because people have recognized the weaknesses of schutzhund
and are not willing to accept them. These people think that the KNPV
is a much more difficult sport where only the tough survive. Unfortunately
they are wrong. The KNPV is a great sport if one keeps in mind that it
is "JUST A SPORT."
I have seen a lot is KNPV dogs that are imported
into this country that bite like alligators but have nerve problems.
This makes them jumpy and a little dangerous to work from a handlers
This is not something that is seen very often in German Shepherds but
it is not that uncommon in Malinois. The Dutch should not be blamed
for this. These dogs are almost always sold at reduced prices (many times
they are 1/2 the price of a qualified dog.) The fact is the people who
are to blame are the American importers who are trying to make a few
extra dollars and accept lesser quality dogs.
The reason for getting into KNPV is there is no tracking
and the exercises are fun to train for (guard the article and handler
protection etc.). Some people who live in cities have problems finding
proper tracking grounds and some people simply hate training tracking
(I find this hard to believe because it's my favorite thing to train).
It's my personal feeling that KNPV would be the sport of choice in America
today had it come to the States 25 years ago the way Schutzhund did.
I would recommend either Schutzhund or the KNPV to anyone
interested in training working dogs. Both Schutzhund and KNPV have had
a positive influence on breeding working dogs in this country. It's the
influence of these dog sports that have raised the quality of police service
dogs in America. I just feel that it is a mistake to think that all Schutzhund
dogs and all KNPV dog's can become police service dogs. The facts are
that very few of them have the drive or temperament for the work.
As far as I am concerned the best patrol dog
candidates are young males who have started their training in Schutzhund
KNPV (at the bite development stage) but have not yet been titled.
If adult titled dogs are purchased for service dogs a good part of their
training involved correcting problems caused by sport handlers and reprogramming
the dogs to work on the street.