Three large dogs sit beside one another in a field

Mondioring vs Schutzhund: What’s the Difference?

Both mondioring and schutzhund focus significantly on training, obedience, and the relationship that handlers have with their dogs.

Aside from all that, though, mondioring and schutzhund are worlds apart.

Schutzhund focuses on tracking, obedience and protection, the three traits which make up the cornerstone of a great working German Shepherd, whilst Mondioring borrows elements from multiple competitive dog sports to test the functional obedience of a dog to the absolute limit.

In the rest of this quick guide we cover the major differences between mondioring and schutzhund, shining a light on the core aspects of both these dog disciplines while at the same time really illustrating why (and how) these sports are so unique.

Let’s jump right in!

The biggest differences between Mondioring and Schutzhund

Before emphasizing the major differences between mondioring and schutzhund, it’s really important to bring attention to the fact that both of these disciplines are focused on one thing and one thing only – establishing a real, lasting partnership between the dog and their handler.

These sports (more than many other mainstream sports, even) are all about teamwork 100% of the time.

Schutzhund is one of the “classic” dog sports

Around 1900 the German Shepherd was bred and “developed” from working, herding dogs throughout Germany for the express purpose of creating an athletic, obedient, disciplined, and hard-working animal that could help shepherds with their daily tasks.

In a few short years, though, these dogs started to lose a lot of their genetic working abilities.

This posed a problem to the shepherds were spearheading the breeding program, so they established a set of working ability standards and tests to determine which German Shepherds were best suited for breeding going forward, and which needed a little more training to restore their working capabilities.

These initial training and testing sessions eventually became the schutzhund standard, a standard used to credential specific dogs that could later be bred to generate as pure a working dog breed as possible under the German Shepherd banner.

While schutzhund has morphed into more of a competitive dog sport around the world than a breed standard, in Germany it remains the final word in whether or not a GSD is suitable for breeding going forward.

Mondioring is a blend of all the top dog sports

Mondioring, on the other hand, is a significantly younger sports and discipline – a discipline that borrows from all other dog training sports and disciplines (including schutzhund) while adding some interesting twists, turns, and challenges that modernize these tests quite a bit.

No two mondioring courses (or “races”) are going to be the same, and that’s another major diversions from the schutzhund system.

One mondioring race may focus a lot more on schutzhund style tasks (without the tracking) whereas another might more heavily focus on Dutch KNPV, French Ring, and Belgian Ring elements – all of them uniquely blended together to create the mondioring coursework.

A German shepherd bites onto the arm of a decoy whilst competing in a Schutzhund competition

Schutzhund places heavy priority on precision tracking, obedience, and protection

It’s important to remember that schutzhund started, first and foremost, as a way for shepherds in Germany to better train and test the dogs that they were going to be using while working their fields and tending their flock on a day-to-day basis.

This is why the schutzhund test focuses so heavily on tracking, obedience, and protection.

These three traits make up the cornerstone of a great working GSD, the kind of German Shepherd that any professional shepherd would want by their side when they are working a flock of any size.

Mondioring doesn’t have quite as much of a focus on these three elements and absolutely zero focus whatsoever on tracking at all.

 

Functional obedience while distracted is a major part of Mondioring

Functional obedience is a big piece of the puzzle with the mondioring coursework, and right from the moment that a dog first steps into the ring and begins their coursework they are going to be stressed, tested, and challenged – sometimes on-the-fly – to make sure that they remain obedient no matter what.

Obedience is a huge part of the success (or failure) of dogs that are going through the mondioring runs.

Obedience is still a big part of schutzhund, to be sure, but it is only 1/3 of the scoring elements

A Belgian malinois puppy plays with a red and blue rugby ball

Schutzhund trails are regimented and universal

If a competitor wanted to enter a schutzhund competition in their hometown or halfway around the world they would be able to do so with complete and total confidence, mostly because these tests are regimented and universal across the board – and that’s a big part of the allure of schutzhund.

Competitors know going into these kinds of competitions exactly what they are going to be up against.

They know what the different stages are going to look like, they know what the individual challenges are going to be structured like, and they are able to get a real feel for how the process moves from start to finish – even if they’ve only watched a couple of YouTube videos and haven’t competed in person yet.

This is all possible because of how regimented, how structured, and how universally applied the schutzhund tests are. There is no variation, there are no “environmental elements” the way there might be in mondioring competitions, but instead there’s a very strict curriculum and rubric that competing teams of dogs and handlers have to move through to succeed.

 

Mondioring places tremendous stress and pressure on the dog right away

The varied nature of the mondioring competitions add a lot of stress and pressure on both handler and dog right away, but the mondioring “structure” takes that pressure to the next level by forcing all dogs to work through their course (sometimes 45 minutes long or longer) without ever being on the collar.

This was initially thought of as a novelty and creative way to have a closer look at the obedience levels of all animals that competed in mondioring competitions, but has now become a foundational staple of this kind of race or course.

Anyone that has ever spent any amount of time training a dog (even if it wasn’t to the mondioring or schutzhund standards) understands that slipping a collar from a dog breaks down a big mental barrier that helps these animals to sort of “lock-in” to their more obedient role.

We won’t say that slipping the collar “turns them wild”, but it definitely makes it a lot harder to control a dog – especially when you factor in all of the other things that are going on during these mondioring competitions.

Animals that have been highly trained and those that respect their handlers are going to have a much easier time of maintaining their obedience even after the collar comes off.

It goes without saying, though, that the collar stays on during the schutzhund competitions – which results in those animals being significantly less stressed and put under less pressure to perform for sure.

Closing thoughts

At the end of the day, both mondioring and schutzhund have been established to create lasting relationships  between dogs and their handlers – and they do a better job than maybe any other dog sport out there at pulling this off to perfection.

These kinds of competitions are always fun to watch, always action-packed, and always full of energy.

Getting a chance to see man’s best friend in action, showing a strong, smart, and discipline they really can become, is something you’ll never forget.

This is something that both mondioring and schutzhund (despite their major differences) most certainly have in common.