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GSDCA-WDA Working Dog Competition

by David W.

The German shepherd is a wonderful, strong, and powerful working dog with a keen desire to please and achieve. The breed was originally bred as hunting and herding dogs but has since become more domesticated. Because of its determined will and high intelligence, the German shepherd is a successful working dog in police service and other professional duties. To exemplify its attributes, many owners choose to get the dogs involved in working dog competition. Learn more about the GSDCA-WDA and WUSV working dog competitions below.

Becoming a member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of America-Working Dog Association, Inc. or the GSDCA-WDA keeps you informed on competitions and current events for your dog. Proper care and well-being of the German shepherd dog is their primary goal. In order to be internally recognized, the GSDCA-WDA is tightly associated with the World Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs (WUSV). The WUSV was developed in Germany and stands for Welt-Union der Vereine für Deutsche Schäferhunde. Through membership, you can stay informed on local, national and regional events and competitions for your German shepherd dog.


Some benefits as a member of membership are training seminars, herding programs, breed surveys, awareness of certification and competition events, judging programs, informative periodicals, and more. You have more opportunities to become fully involved with your dog and activities that can help in developing its best qualities as your canine companion. GSDCA-WDA is recognized as a number one resource according to the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the WUSV.

To become an active member, you must first be 18 years of age, have a working dog German shepherd, and be in good standing with the AKC. There are different classes of membership, depending on the age of your dog, and starts with the puppy stage. Membership ensures that you understand the excellent standards of the German shepherd as approved by the AKC. As the GSDCA-WDA vows to protect the natural values of this breed, it makes every effort and possibility to encourage friendly competitions that can demonstrate the dog’s unique abilities. The German shepherd is not only great as a companion but also excels as superb police, war, security, herding, and rescue canine along with capabilities in search of drugs and explosives. With their extreme loyalty and compassion, the breed also excels as a guide dog to the blind.  Working dog competitions are ways to epitomize your dog’s special and distinctive qualities far above others in its class and GSDCA-WDA helps to keep you updated on current events, shows, and trials.


Working dog championships and competitions began in Europe in the 1970s with the WUSV, originally known as the European Championships. The popularity of these events grew rapidly over the years, with over 300,000 members in associated WUSV memberships, including the GSDCA-WDA. Such competitions draw thousands who come out to view the spectacular talents of the German shepherd dogs each year.

Competition usually involves a handler who works with working dogs.

The requirement of the handler begins with the partnership of trust and respect with the dog being entered in the competition. A handler is working with someone else’s pet companion and it is important to establish a good rapport with the dog you are working with. Each handler and dog team works at its own pace and abilities. During competitions, the handler is usually limited to the use of voice, body, and hand signals which only comes from exceptional training and mutual bond with the dog.

In the same regard, the dog has a responsibility to respect and put its trust in the handler in order to do well in the competition. Working with dogs when very young can gain the best results although it does require a lot of patience on the part of the handler. Puppies have short attention spans but still have the ingrained need to please its human. Working together for short periods more frequently is more beneficial than long dragged-out sessions. Patience, persistence, and a loving but stern hand will produce a winning team of dog and handler when preparing for working dog competition.

There are many types of working dogs competition for the German shepherd.

Working dog competition shows can be as simple as the best in a show of its particular breed in the AKC trials to agility runs, obedience, tracking, and protection trials as set forth in Schutzhund sports training and events. Each competition has its own stringent rules and regulations and the scoring for every event and begins with a 100-point system. As each task is performed, the dog is graded, needing a total score of 70 in order to pass each event. The protection competition requires a minimum of 80. Dogs that have the highest total score combined in all areas win the entire event. Despite how well a dog does, judges frown upon any German shepherd with an attitude that includes aggression, fear, and other poor temperament behaviors.

As set forth by the GSDCA-WDA, common working dog competition for the German shepherd includes tracking, obedience, and protection, which are important aspects of the working dog. These highly intelligent dogs need to have the exceptional scenting ability through concentration and physical endurance. If your dog is entered in the tracking competition, items are dropped on a trail that the dog must locate. The handler will let the dog go-ahead to follow the scent of that article while being on a long 33-foot lead until the dog signals it has found what it was tracking. Scoring for this event is determined by how carefully, intently, and quickly the dog tracks the specific item.

Obedience Competition for the Working Dog

The event is performed on a large field working with dogs in pairs. One dog is in command mode with the handler while the other works on something else. Then the dogs switch places. Some of the exercises include heeling, sit, down and so forth, in unusual situations, distractions, and loud noises such as gunshots. Judging and scoring on the obedience phase of the working dog competition is based on the working dog’s enthusiasm to please, concentration, obedience, attitude, and accuracy of doing what is commanded despite its surroundings.


Working dogs work with a handler and a “decoy” when performing the protection exercises. Decoys must wear heavily padded sleeves on an arm for protection. They may be hidden and the working dog must be courageous and determined to find the decoy, alerting the handler of its find by barking. Part of the dog’s job is to guard the decoy and prevent it from moving until commanded to do so. Further exercises are performed that may resemble that of police work and the working dog must show classic signs of protecting its handler and hanging onto the decoy if necessary by biting the padded sleeve. The dog holds on until commanded to let go or release. It cannot dismiss until told to do so. Scoring is based on the dog’s drive, enthusiasm, and devotion to the handler. Dogs that are not passionate to carry out their duties to protect, show any kind of fear, aggression, or lack of control is out of the competition and most likely should not be used as a working dog.

Members of the working dog GSDCA-WDA have all the resources available to provide the best of care and training of your German shepherd working dog along with keeping you continually informed of any events that could be of interest to you. Training and competition are ways to keep your dog physically healthy and happy while reinforcing its skills and abilities as a talented and energetic working dog.

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