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By Tom Wilkins
(Fall 93)
The word Schutzhund is German, meaning Protection Dog. This, unfortunately scares many away from the sport, including AKC. Some believe the training produces aggressive dogs that are more apt to bite. Good Schutzhund training produces just the opposite.

Schutzhund is a dog sport whose original purpose was to set up a standard, though a series of tests, to evaluate the German working dog. The results of these tests were used to determine the suitability of a dog for breeding. It is the belief of a majority of German dog owners and a growing number of American dog owners that to breed dogs, the physical stricture should not be the only criterion. Schutzhund measures the dog's mental stability, endurance, structural efficiencies, ability to scent, willingness to work, courage and trainability.

Through the years other dog breeds have proven to be quite adept at the sport including the Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, Belgian Malinois, Bouvier des Flanders, Boxers, Giant Schnauzer, and yes, the Airedale Terrier. In the United States at this time there are only two Schutzhund III titled Airedales: Maugh Vail's CH Seneca Newcomers' Chance (Myles) and my dog, E-Nicholas Alexander von Argonaut. In Germany there are hundreds upon hundreds of Airedales who have completed their SchH III in the history of the breed.

Schutzhund is comprised of three main phases: tracking, obedience, and protection. There are three levels; Schutzhund I, II & III, with each level becoming more difficult for the dog and for the handler.

Before a dog trials for Schutzhund I, it must successfully complete the "B" (Begleithund) or Companion Dog test. This test has 2 parts. The first part takes place in a stadium type situation comprised of an obedience routine. The second half takes place on the street of the hosting club's city or town. It puts the dog in real life situations. The dog cannot be aggressive to people or dogs. They must be able to do their work with gun shots being fired and not be afraid of bicycles, joggers or traffic.

Good Schutzhund training produces a confident dog that can handle different situations. They are terrific dependable family pets and they are great with children. It eliminates fear biters, who bite because they are afraid or those dogs that bite for no apparent reason.

In the United States, there are two main clubs, both having a parent clubs in Germany. The first is USA (Unites Schutzhund Clubs of America). This club is predominantly German Shepherd, but it lets all breed compete in all but the world class events. The second club is DVG/America. This club is for all breeds, but at present time is composed mostly of German Shepherd owners also.

Schutzhund is a sport of all people; men/women, young/old. It does not require any specific physical skills. It does, however, require a lot of dedication, time and love of working with your dog.

With the formation of NAWATA, Airedales will be eligible for membership in the American Working Dog Federation (AWDF), which would let Airedales compete in world class events with other member breed clubs.