THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SCHUTZHUND
AND AKC TRACKING
By Dennis Helm
Schutzhund 3 and the AKC TRACKING DOG (TD)
tracks are similar in length and difficulty. For Schutzhund 1, the
handler gets to lay his own track, which is then aged for 20 minutes.
The Schutzhund track is graded on a 1 to 100 point scale. Participating
in a graded system causes the trainer to stress very accurate tracking.
Air scenting dogs are not seen in Schutzhund trials where they seem
to be predominating in AKC tracking tests. The TD dog must find
only one article where the Schutzhund 3 dog must find three articles
and negotiate a cross track. The rules for Schutzhund tracking state
that all Schutzhund tracking can be done off lead so long as the
distance between the dog and handler is maintained at 30 feet.
In Schutzhund, the starting flag, with the
exception of Schutzhund FH 2 where the tracker must find the starting
article, is always placed six inches from the track layer's left
foot. This is not true in AKC tracking. For those of us who began
our tracking experience in Schutzhund, the start of an AKC test
track can be confusing.
This is a comparison of tracking titles and
the levels of difficulty.
SCHUTZHUND 1 or T1: This is
the starting track for the Schutzhund competitor. The track is 400
to 500 yards in length with two turns and two articles. The tracks
are aged for 20 minutes. This is the only track that is put down
by the handler. There is no cross track.
Schutzhund 1, 2, 3 tracks follow rather ridged
patterns without a lot of change of terrain. Corners are always
90° angles. The placement of articles on the Schutzhund track
is fairly predictable, as is the location of the cross track for
the Schutzhund III.
SCHUTZHUND 2 or T2: This track
is about 600 yards long with two turns. The track is aged for at
least 30 minutes.
SCHUTZHUND 3, T3 or AKC TRACKING DOG:
The Schutzhund track has at least five legs and the length is 800
yards. There is a cross track used at this level of Schutzhund tracking.
This track is very structured. The TD track is the first of the
AKC tracking titles. This track is 440 to 500 yards long and is
very free flowing in design. There is only one article located at
the end of the track. The TD test track is equal to a Schutzhund
3 track in difficulty.
SCHUTZHUND FH 1 and AKC TRACKING DOG
EXCELLENT: The TDX is 800 to 1,000 yards in length and goes
through terrain changes and over or through challenging obstacles.
There are four articles in the track. The FH 1 tracks length is
1,400 yards and has seven right angle turns and four articles on
the track. Changes of terrain are part of the track. These tracks
have cross tracks and are aged for at least three hours. While the
TDX track is shorter that the FH 1 track the TDX track is freer
in its design.
SCHUTZHUND FH 2 and AKC VARIABLE SURFACE
TRACKING (VST): This is the level where tracking becomes
interesting. As of July 1997, there have been fifteen or so dogs
to have earned the VST title and about the same number of dogs have
earned the FH 2 title in America. The FH 2 and VST titles have been
in existence for about two years. To date my Panda is the only Doberman
to have earned the title in this country.
A VST track shall be at least 600 yards and
not more than 800 yards in length. The track shall have a minimum
of three different surfaces, which shall include vegetation and
two areas devoid of vegetation, such as concrete, asphalt, gravel,
hard pan or mulch. The areas devoid of vegetation shall comprise
at least one-third to one-half of the total length of the track.
The scent on the track shall be not less than
three hours or more than five hours old. There is no cross track.
(This information was obtained from the AKC TRACKING REGULATIONS
effective September 1,1995.)
The FH 2 tracks difficulty, in part, comes
from its 2,000 to 3,000 yard length. Like the VST track there is
to be a variety of terrain changes. One of the most difficult parts
if the FH 2 track is the lack of a defined starting point. The dog
must find the starting article within the three-minute time limit
to qualify for running the rest of the track. This track has a total
of eight articles, two 30° angle turns, and a tight half-circle.
There is a cross track but unlike those used for the other tracks
this one is laid down 30 minutes before the track is run. Perhaps
the most difficult part of the FH 2 track is its great length. This
track is at least 2 1/2 times the length of a VST track.
For the tracking enthusiast all of the other
tracks lead up to the FH 2 and the VST experience. These two titles
are at the top of the tracking community's list of achievements.
With lots of work they are obtainable. At this point in time the
number of dogs passing for either title are about the same. Seven
have passed the VST title and six for the FH 2.
Having had dogs pass both FH 2 and TDX titles
I find the mental pressure the handler undergoes is essentially
the same. No one wants to hear the judges whistle in an AKC test
or not successfully finish a Schutzhund trial track.