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An Overview of the Differences between KNPV and IPO

An Overview of the Differences between IPO/Schutzhund and KNPV

Presented by Siam Crown Kennel

Schutzhund and KNPV are both popular dog sports. Schutzhund /IPO started in Germany. KNPV originated in Holland in 1907  initially as the Dutch Police certification program.

Schutzhund which means "protection dog" was developed by a man named Stephanitz who was very active in the development of the German Shepherd. The first Schutzhund trial was in 1901. Schutzhund was initially developed to allow for the testing of the suitability of German Shepherds for breeding. It was intended to gauge the character and working capability of a dog. It has since developed into an international sport in the form of IPO where allowing for various working breeds to compete in various exercises covering tracking, obedience and protection work. The sport is indeed a sport and should not be confused with training for practical security work. The training of an IPO dog demonstrates both the ability of the dog, and the talent of the trainer. The exercises are scored as much on form as substance.

The KNPV while originally designed as the program for training police dogs has today become a sport and with KNPV standing for Royal Dutch Police Dog Sports. Dogs trained in KNPV have a good foundation to go on to police work, but require further certification and training for civilian protection work before doing so. In this sense KNPV represents a more practical form of protection training a dog than IPO.

There is a great deal of difference in the training and the exercises contained within the IPO program and the KNPV program. As an example KNPV protection work involves a dog biting on a suit. The attack is much tougher than an IPO attack, and the exercises are more numerous. The complexity of protection training is also greater involving exercises such as a recall from attack where the dog is called back before the attack, and a false attack where the decoy stops running and stands still. The dog must not bite at this point. IPO protection involves a stylistic search of blinds followed by a bark and hold, escape (runaway by the decoy) several transports and a long attack down a field in a straight line. The dog is taught to only bite a sleeve. A judge will downgrade an IPO dog for a bite grip that is not full and firm. A KNPV judge is not really concerned with whether a dog has a mouthy bite as long as it doesn’t drop off the bite. Unlike IPO KNPV has other protection related exercises such as object guarding, where a dog guards an object, bites a thief trying to take the object and then returns to guard the object, all without the presence of the handler. The dog must also not be aggressive to innocent passers by.

IPO tracking is quite precise. The dog is trained to follow a scent at an even pace, and to do so on a precise path. It must also identify articles left on the track. The way the dog tracks is stylistically graded by the judge for things such as speed, intensity of scenting, quality of turns and the ability to ignore distractions. This type of training is time consuming, and requires patience. Pressuring a dog will ultimately result in a dog that does not enjoy tracking. The exercise is somewhat dependent on the dog’s natural tracking instincts and the talent of a handler to build on this.

KNPV does not have tracking in the PH 1 or PH 2 certification program although a separate tracking certificate that also includes scent discrimination can be undertaken. KNPV has exercises such as searching for a hidden decoy in a forest and finding a box hidden in a field or forest. KNPV also has an area search where the dog finds and brings back small metal objects left on a field.

Obedience exercises in IPO are elegant and very precise. The style of heeling is very important. Precision in jumps and retrieves is also very critical ;The dog is also required to stand/stay from motion, sit in motion and down from motion. There is also a send away exercise where the dog must run in a straight line down a long field away from the handler and down on command. In competition small stylistic mistakes are down graded very quickly. The level of obedience in IPO is much higher than many people realize and rather tighter than KNPV where the dog needs to get the job done. This is not to say that KNPV dogs are less controlled, in fact KNPV handlers generally have very strong control over their dogs and many are tougher on their dogs during training than their IPO counterparts. KNPV heeling focuses on the dog following the handler in a required pattern. KNPV jumps are geared just to the jump with no retrieve. KNPV also involves swimming exercises, which do not exist in IPO. A great many of the dogs we have seen in the KNPV program tend to have much higher prey and fight drive than their IPO counterparts. In this sense there has been a degree of divergence in the breeding programs producing dogs for KNPV as opposed to IPO. Many dogs that are successful in one sport might not be as suitable for the other sport.

As I mentioned earlier Schutzhund/IPO was originally developed as a test for dogs for breeding. As part of the program for a dog to compete at a high level it must have a pedigree. KNPV dogs do not need to have a pedigree, and the majority does not. Most KNPV dogs these days are non-pedigree Malinois, followed by non-pedigree Dutch Shepherds and the occasional German Shepherd. Of course there are pedigree dogs in the program but they are less numerous.

KNPV originally had three primary levels of certification. PH 1 (Police Dog 1) this was a high-level complete title program. PH 2 (Police Dog 2) which was a repeat of PH 1 with several additional more complex exercises added such as a multiple decoy exercise, and Object Guarding, which was an abbreviated form of  PH 1. Within PH 1 there was also a conditional certificate for dogs with a marginal pass requiring a retest within a year. Dogs with exception scores above a certain threshold are awarded metlof (with honor) after their title. In recent years a Basic Certificate has been added to the program to entice beginners to enter the program. This is a highly attenuated program geared toward basic obedience and protection. The exercises in the KNPV exam cover obedience, protection and object guarding. The exercise compared to IPO are numerous with the scoring in PH 1 being a maximum of 440 and 455 in PH 2.

IPO/Schutzhund has three levels. 1,2 and 3. IPO 3 is the highest. A dog must first pass a BH test (VZH), which consists of a good portion of the IPO 1 obedience program. The dog is also checked for character and stability, and behavior in public in a traffic test. The BH is not a title, but a prerequisite to titling in the future. The various levels of IPO are similar but of increasing complexity in the exercises in each part.  IPO title requirements are divided into three sections A (Tracking) B(Obedience) C(protection). Each section is scored 100 points. A dog with a score of less than 70 percent in any section will be failed on the overall exam. It is possible to test for an individual section only, but this results in a partial title.

This comparison of the two sports is by no means exhaustive or comprehensive, but is intended to present an overview of the character of the two sports. We hope that we have spurred your interest and that you will take the time to further investigate these two very interesting dog sports.