A German Lesson

If this hasn't been enough acronyms for you, get ready for the slough of German titles that every shepherd owner should be familiar with — particularly when perusing a potential puppy's pedigree. For the most part, these titles can be divided into two divisions: conformation and working titles.

In conformation, the SV recognizes the best female and male in a class. Beyond that, the organization rates dogs every time they are shown and registers these ratings in each dog's permanent records. A “VA” or V-Auslese is given only at the Bundessiege rhauptzuchtschau (annual SV show) and is considered more than excellent. This rating is reserved for only a few males and females in the working group class. A V rating (for “Vorzuglich”) means Excellent. An SG rating (for “Sehr Gut”) means Very Good, and an A (for “Ausreichend”) means Sufficient.

If a dog is selected as the best male or best female at a national specialty show, the male receives the coveted title of Sieger, while the female receives the title of Siegerin.

Some of the working titles will appear familiar. Schutzhund titles are the same in Germany and the United States; however, the winner of Germany's annual SV National SchH3 champion-ship (an extremely difficult and prestigious win) is given the title Bundesleistungssieger.

Other initials that you might find trailing behind a German dog's name correspond to these titles: BH (Basic Companion Dog); FH1 (Advanced Tracking); FH2 (Superior Tracking); IPO1-3 (International Working Dog); HGH (Herding Dog); BIH (Blind Leader Dog); DH (Service Dog); LwH (Avalanche Dog); RtH (Rescue Dog); ZH1, 2, or 3 (Customs Dog); and PFP1 or 2 (Police Tracking Dog).

Perhaps the most valuable German title for breeding purposes is that of the all-purpose dog — Körung. To earn this breeding status, a German shepherd must pass what is called the breed survey. The dog is graded on conformation, tested for endurance, evaluated for hip dysplasia, and tested for working abilities — including the dog's ability to perform protection work.

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