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International Utility Dog Trials - IPO (Schutzhund)

Similar to Working Trials, IPO sport is a competitive sport based on the civilian equivalent of police dog work. 

It however requires more precision in the dog’s work and the dogs are evaluated on their temperament and attitude at all times.  The way in which they undertake the exercises is all important. This makes the sport a great challenge for both handler and dog.

The original purpose of the sport was as an evaluation tool to assess dogs on their temperament and working ability to select the best dogs for breeding and ensure the preservation of working ability and temperament.  These core values are still strong in the sport today with temperament testing taking place at every trial with every dog.

Although any breed of dog can take part, it is a sport that is better suited to the guarding breeds due to the protection work element which is involved in all levels of the sport (except the specific FH tracking dog stakes and prerequisite BH temperament qualification)

Please ensure you check with your vet beforehand that your individual dog is fit to take part in this activity.

The trials are held outdoor and take place in all weathers…...There is no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes!!!

Qualification Levels within IPO

Utility Dog Trials

BH – Temperament test involves exercises in the street, including impartiality to joggers, cyclists, pedestrians, vehicles, other dogs, as well as obedience exercises on the training field.  This test must be passed before the handler and dog team can progress further in the sport.

IPO 1, 2 & 3.

Comprises of three phases:

Phase 1: Tracking

This involves following a human scent trail and indicating dropped articles.


Phase 2: Obedience

Comprises a set of exercises on a training field including heelwork, retrieves on the ground, over a jump and A Frame, recall, stay, and send away and lots more

Phase 3: Protection


This involves the location of a hidden ‘criminal’ known as a helper, defending the handler from attack by the helper and other similar actions

Tracking Dog Trials

FH 1, 2 & 3

These tests focus only on the dog’s tracking ability (following a human scent trail) and get progressively more difficult through each level of qualification. 

Did you know?  When dogs get a qualifying score in a competition they are entitled to have the letters after their name just like a human with a degree.  You may have seen these in your dog’s pedigree.

For more information about IPO sport including where to find your local club please follow the link below:

Equipment Required to get you started: Please visit our Dog Sport Collection