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Leerburg Articles The Split Between the German Police & The SV

The Split Between the German Police & The SV by Ed Frawley

The Split Between the German Police & The SV
By Ed Frawley
Copyright 1999

Ed Frawley, Mike Andrel with Ruger, Greg Mominee with Alk, Alfred Machesky,
Wendell Nope, Neal Scoresby, Kevin Sheldahl with CJ.

This year (1999) is the 100th anniversary of the SV. It is also the last time the German Police will hold police dog championships at the same time and place as the SV Bundessieger (Schutzhund championships). This is a break from tradition and not an insignificant fact. It is, in effect, confirmation of the on going decline of the working ability of the German Shepherd Dog.

For years the German Police have been telling the SV that it has gotten harder and harder to find suitable German Shepherds for police service work. You can find a reprint of an article to this effect from a German newspaper on my web site. For all intents and purposes these complaints have fallen on deaf ears. While the SV has admitted the problem, they have virtually done nothing about it.

That simple fact has lead to this split between the German Police and the SV.

The President of the SV, Mr. Messler and Alfred Machesky.
Mr. Machesky had just gave a speech saying 'Good Bye' to the SV

There are few people (if any) in America who have a better understanding of the history of this subject than Wendell Nope. Wendell is the American representative to the International Police Dog Congress (and has been for years). He also runs the Utah Post K9 Training Facility in Salt Lake City. This is the only State Sponsored "POST" training facility in the country. For those who do not know the significance of this, a "Post Facility" sets the training certifications and standards for the state that it's located in. There are some other state police and city police K9 academies around the country, but none that I am aware of are State Post facilities.

This year I traveled to Germany with the American Police K9 Team that competed at the police dog competition, which takes place at the Bundessieger. While there Wendell brought me up to speed on the history of the problem between the German Police and the SV.

Over the past 10 to 15 years the Germans have been forced to use more and more imported dogs for their police force. These are mostly Malinois from Holland and Belgium and a few German Shepherds from the Czech Republic.

The German Police facilities that sponsor their own breeding programs (i.e. Northrhine-Westfalia) have had a 90% success rate in placing their litters of Malinois into police work and only a 60% rate in placing German Shepherds (with the actual number is probably closer to 30% after first year wash outs).

This Years' Police Champion - Ulrich Gerling with Haky v. Waldwinkel

The German government officials who oversee the police budgets are not blind to the fact that more and more police dogs are not German Shepherds. They also do not see the SV as an organization that is willing to make the necessary changes to support the needs of the police. These people are also not hung up on the fact that the German Shepherd is a product of the fatherland. They therefore question the continual support of the SV.

From a budgetary standpoint it is extremely expensive to send 50 to 100 police K9 handlers to a 3-day SV Police Dog competition. Unlike civilians, these officers have to be paid for their time, training (for the competition) and travel expenses. This is not a small amount of money.

So with this in mind, the police have been told to sever ties with the SV. In the future, the police dog championships (IDM) will be held every 2 years. It will not be held in conjunction with any other sporting dog events. Next year the IDM will be in Hanover during the week of the worlds fair.

Wendell told me that many people in Germany unjustly blame Alfred Machesky (the head Northrhine-Westfalia Police Dog School and head of the International Police Dog Congress) for these changes. He said order to enforce the split comes from those a lot higher in the government than Alfred. Wendell compares this criticism of Alfred to the Romans wanting to kill the messenger who delivers bad news.

With all of this said, I was surprised at the amount of support for the police at this year Bundessieger. The German Schutzhund competitors do not like the fact that there has been a split between the Police and the SV. Unlike America, where the vast majority of sport people look down their nose at the police, the average German Sportsman goes out of his way to make the police welcome.

The SV seemed to realize the extent of the error of their ways. They made the German Police and American Police team feel welcome at this years' event. The police were wined and dined by both the SV and the Mayor of Augsburg.

One of the more interesting thing's I saw at this year's event was a 20-minute light show celebrating 100 Years of the SV and the German Shepherd Dog. It took place at the Banquet on Saturday evening in Augsburg's Congress hall. Spectacular would not come close to describing what we saw. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I was told the light show cost the SV 60,000 DM. The interesting thing that was pointed out after it was all over was the fact that there was not one place during the 20-minute show that made reference to the role of the German Shepherd dog in law enforcement.

During the competition, unlike here in America, when the police K9 teams entered the stadium for bite work very few spectators got up and left. In fact they gave thunderous applause to Malinois and Giant Schnauzers who took the helper to the ground in the long attacks. Compare this to Schutzhund USA National events where the stadium virtually empties when the police dogs compete or where the police are forced to compete at night when the stadium is empty (like the St. Joe Missouri Nationals of a few years ago.)

The fact is, the vast majority of German sport people feel that it is very important to maintain their ties with the police. This is because of a combination of pride and common sense. Many understand that ties to the police bring legitimacy to their biting dog sport. This is becoming very important in a land where the "Green Political Party" rules and the atmosphere for biting dogs is getting worse and worse every day. It may not be long before they have enough influence to eliminate the courage test in sport work (labeling it as unnecessary for civilian dogs).

So what does all this mean? Is the split between the police and the SV the straw that breaks the camel's back (or working dogs back) or is it a cry in the night which results in badly needed changes? I don't have the answers to these questions. I don't think anyone does yet.

I can tell you that it means that the SV got a leash correction and those show people who run the organization don't seem to care (Does that sound like recent history with the old management of Schutzhund USA?). It does mean that more than likely the future of the working bloodline German Shepherd does not lie in Germany with the SV. The Czech republics have already proven this fact. It does mean that those people who run around the dog world flaunting "all things German are perfect " are dead wrong.

I heard more than one German say that in 5 or 10 years they will be coming to America to buy their sport dogs. With the current state of affairs in Schutzhund USA I am not so sure that they are right.

There are many German sport people who desperately want the police and the SV to mend their fences and get back together. I can honestly say that unless the SV makes some changes in their fundamental thinking about working genetics this is not going to happen the police are going to have to see more than lip service and cocktail parties before they change their position. They will want to see an organization that can produce dogs that can go out and fight those people that others don't want to fight.

I have not attended a Bundessieger event in 11 or 12 years. While I spent the majority of my time at this years event watching the police dog competitions, I did watch number of sport dogs do bite work. I saw several Schutzhund dogs run on courage tests and under attacks on the handlers. I can honestly tell you that this did not happen 12 years ago. I asked myself how a dog could qualify for the Bundessieger Prufung and "RUN IN THE BITE WORK" Something is seriously wrong with a system that allows this to happen at a national championship level.

With this said, I also saw some very nice working dogs. The concern is that these dogs are becoming more and more of a minority.

In my opinion the future of the working German Shepherd lies in the hands of small independent breeders who keep back good females and develop their own bloodlines. Every serious breeder has to look in their own back yard and determine if the dogs they are feeding are truly working dogs or just pretty pets. Are their dogs environmentally sound with good drives or are they simply show dogs?

Ed Frawley - Kevin Sheldahl and CJ, Alfred Machesky

Email on this Article:
The following e-mail was sent to me from a German. It is a typical example of the mentality of the people that working dog breeders face every day. The stupidity of this person is obvious. The borders of Europe have come down and the criminal elements of Russia and the Eastern Republics are smuggling guns in record numbers.

I wonder what people who have such stupid opinions will be saying a few years from now when the violence of their local crime catches up to the larger American cities.

You don't know what you are talking about. You got a big mouth, that's about it. Your practice of self-importance is unable to crack a potato chip. Today's public of Germany still has hope that utilizing dogs ability to do damage through bite attacks is considered a crime. The (SV) has done an outstanding job so far saving the German Shepherd dog without having their reputation of a biting machine. It takes time to accept the German Shepherd Dog mention it with out any requirements of fighting ability. The ability of such a introduction is a slow progress and has been vary successful so far. You have absolutely no inside information of the (SV) jet raising a big smog screen by exploiting your wrong info about Germany to gain recognition under outlaw people or so-called trailer trash enthusiast in this country.


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