How old is "too old" for Schutzhund? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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How old is "too old" for Schutzhund?

(Disclaimer – I’m new to Schutzhund so forgive the ignorance please)

I'm curious at around what age do most dogs stop training in Schutzhund.

And can they continue to work in some areas even at older ages...like tracking, or does their sense of smell start fading as they get older?

Also I’m curious how often dogs get injured in Schutzhund. The protection part looks VERY demanding on the dog and it would seem like they would occasionally get hurt.

Also what are the effects on their teeth from protection training. Seems like there would be some added wear and tear…or could they even lose a tooth from this kind of stuff?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 10:40 AM
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Re: How old is "too old" for Schutzhund?

Yes they can lose teeth, and yes on some dogs the wear and tear is more noticeable than others. Oxana has alot of wear on her teeth. Hardy is 7, I still work him. His teeth are ok. I do tracking and protection with him. I don't do too much of the jumps/a-frame stuff with him as I don't want him getting injured.

But I do take him out each week to help other members in our club with training, and to give our decoys in training a safe dog to work to prepare for the certification later this year.

I wouldn't say I've seen too many dogs injured. I have seen dogs jammed on sleeves, limp after leaping off the top of the a-frame, that sort of thing. I've not seen anything permanent.

Angela

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 10:50 AM
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Re: How old is "too old" for Schutzhund?

I would say the average age for stopping serious training is between 7-9 years old. Though since some dogs age quicker than others, both mentally and physically, much depends on the individual dog.

Many people do continue tracking with their seniors (no, sense of smell doesn't typically fade with age) as it's a fun way to keep a dog who's used to working still working and still mentally stimulated, without being physically taxing. Many senior dogs still do obedience too (though often without the jumps). And many still do protection, though again not as intense as in their younger years. We have a retired 9yo and retired 10yo at our SchH club that still do protection from time to time. While not as spry as they used to be, they still love it, and those old, retired dogs who know what they're doing can be great for teaching novice helpers the ropes. A friend has a GSD who is almost 14, multiple SchH3s, and he still does some tracking, obedience and protection for fun sometimes.

Injuries do happen. SchH is very much a "full contact sport". I wouldn't say they are common, but they aren't rare either. While I've personally never had a dog get a serious injury in training, I've known others who have. Just like any athletic endeavor, the potential for injury is always there. We as owners can help cut down on the incidents of injuries by making sure our dogs are in excellent physical condition, warming them up and stretching them out before going on the field just as human athletes would do. And also being smart in our training. Don't do work that requires lots of running and jumping and turning if it's icy or muddy and the dogs can't get good traction. Be careful what helpers work the dogs in protection, especially on things like courage tests... only use safe helpers. Any helper, even the best, will make a mistake at some point and an injury can result, but the good ones aren't going to make those mistakes as often.

Though the typical SchH dog temperament is one that could potentially injure itself just by the overall high drive, gung-ho attitude they exhibit off the field as well as on. The only serious injury we've ever had with any of our dogs was a CCL tear while playing ball in the back yard.

Broken teeth do happen as well. Again, while certainly not common, it's not rare either. And yes all the bite work can wear a dog's teeth down over the years. But good SchH dogs are often very mouthy in general and are often the kind who will spend a couple hours a night in the living room gnawing on a nylabone, so that contributes to wear and tear too and again is tied in with the general sort of temperament of many good SchH dogs. So it's not just the bite work that can wear down the dog's teeth prematurely, but the fact that the dog has a personality that makes him a big chewer even when not working.


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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How old is "too old" for Schutzhund?

Thanks for the replies.

I guess my questions were not all that dumb.

Anyway, yeah the reason I was asking is that I was wondering how a working dog would deal with no longer being able to train. I figured the tracking part would keep them somewhat happy if they were able to continue with that in their older age.

To be honest tracking is the most interesting part to me anyway....for now anyway. It also seems to be the safest and lest risk involved part of Schutzhund.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 11:17 AM
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Re: How old is "too old" for Schutzhund?

Oxana is 11 and I still take her out tracking. She loves it.

Angela

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How old is "too old" for Schutzhund?

Don't get me wrong I LOVE watching the Schutzhund protection videos! I really love seeing the dog so focused on the "helper?"...the determination of the dogs is just awesome! And I get all kinds of excited to see the “helper” get put on his butt by the dog.

I'm just not sure I want to take a chance on my pet losing teeth or getting hurt. I mean injuries can heal but you lose one of those big teeth in the front and you're screwed.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 11:23 AM
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Re: How old is "too old" for Schutzhund?

Nope, not dumb questions at all!

Quote:
Originally Posted By: Brandon C

Anyway, yeah the reason I was asking is that I was wondering how a working dog would deal with no longer being able to train.
In my experience they deal with it fine. While they still love to go do some work, age brings the calmness and more laid back nature of maturity, plus a much higher sleep to activity ratio. Definitely never had problems with our retirees chewing up the house out of frustration over not getting to work as much as they used to or anything like that. Though at the same time they're still rarin' to go when they have the opportunity to get out and do some working.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 11:25 AM
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Re: How old is "too old" for Schutzhund?

Quote:
Originally Posted By: Brandon C
but you lose one of those big teeth in the front and you're screwed.
LOL.. nah, they have doggy dentists.

Saw a police K9 a few years back who had titanium implants for all of his canines that had been broken in training. (Now that, to have any canine broken, much less all 4 is VERY rare). He still worked though, and the shiney silver teeth made for a very impressive hold and bark (and a few flashbacks to Jaws from one of the Bond movies).


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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 11:47 AM
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Re: How old is "too old" for Schutzhund?

That is great, be the first in your club to get your dog a grill! My kids would be so jelous!

Not new, just lapsed!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 11:53 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How old is "too old" for Schutzhund?

Quote:
Originally Posted By: AvorowThat is great, be the first in your club to get your dog a grill! My kids would be so jelous!
lol...that's the first thing that came to mind...a grill for dogs!
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