The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is the most versatile breed of dog in the World, which is why it is a widely used service dog in very many different ways and a favorite for many canine sports but also is a much-loved companion dog. Its popularity is due to Its unique character, incorporating intelligence, loyalty, confidence, and determination. In any breed of dog, demand can lead to indiscriminate breeding and the erosion of crucial breed characteristics.
The core purpose of the SV (GSD Club in Germany, the World Governing Body) is the protection of the unique features of the GSD.
The objective is to ensure the GSD remains the outstanding companion dog and the working dog that it should always be. A program known as the Breed Harmonization Program was introduced in 2016 by the SV across the World through the WUSV (World Union of GSD Clubs) member clubs. A fundamental element of this program is the introduction of an assessment of the character of German Shepherd Puppies between the age of 9 and 13 months.
The evaluation looks at various aspects of the puppy’s temperament and comments on them so that the puppy’s owner can understand their puppy’s behavior better and have some information that will help when considering basic training requirements and methods. For those who are interested, it can give insight into suitability for activities such as obedience, tracking, agility, and breeding. The assessment is known as the ZAP Character Assessment (ZAP 1 for short)*
*note that ZAP1 is in its early stages, and as such, changes to terminology, procedures, etc. may occur.
The Wesensüberprüfung, or Wesen test, or Character Assessment test is to do be done between 9 – 13 months. If done after 13 months their is a 100 euro penality fee and the test is called a ZAP test.
What is involved in the assessment?
The assessment consists of a number of tasks which have been developed to test the puppy’s natural behaviours and instincts:
Is the puppy sociable with people and animals?
How does the puppy react to noise?
Does the puppy like to play?
How does the puppy react to unusual situations?
The tasks are based on those used by service organizations when selecting puppies for working. They are as follows:
The assessor discusses the puppy with its handler
Examination of Teeth
Examination of Testicles for males
Measurement of height
On-leash the Dog is handed to the judge to hold, the handler walks away and calls the dog
On-leash the dog is held by a stranger, the handler walks behind a group of people and calls dog
On-leash the handler and dog walk toward a group of people and stop at the group
Off-leash handler and dog walk through the group
While in the group handler and dog casually greet a person in the group
On-leash the dog meets another dog at a distance three paces
Noise sensitivity on losse leash:
engine running (chain saw/leaf blower/lawn mower etc.) passes dog
chain dropped on metal plate – dog at a distance
Gun test at 15 paces
Handler and the dog play off leash.
Handler guides the dog onto a rocking platform and plays with the dog using a toy as the platform is gently rocked by the judge
The dog is guided up a ramp or steps onto 3 long tables which are placed end to end with a turn and a small gap. The dog is encouraged by the owner to walk the length of the tables and back to the start position and off the table.
On-leash, handler plays with the dog without toy, then with a toy
Leashed dog is handed to the judge.
With the dog watching the handler, toy in hand, walks away from the dog and places the toy under a box 10 paces away.
Handler returns to the dog, takes the lead from the judge and then lets the dog off the leash so it may retrieve the toy from under the box and bring the toy back to the handler
Reaction to smooth surface dog is taken into a club house and taken off the leash to walk around on the slippery floor, at some point a metal food bowl is dropped on the floor.
The dog is tied to a securely fixed object in a suitable place. The handler walks out of sight.
After about 5 minutes a stranger approaches the dog, pats it, reassuringly talks to it and then walks away.
The handler returns to the dog.
What does my puppy have to do to pass the assessment?
The assessor is looking to see how the puppy reacts to each of the tasks, each puppy will react differently and the assessor will comment on the reaction in terms of how closely it fits with the expectation for a GSD puppy or what it tells us about the puppy’s aptitudes. There are no points awarded and no pass mark – the assessor simply makes comments about each task.
Is this voluntary?
For anyone wishing to obtain an SV Breed Survey (koerung) a ZAP Character Assessment is required for all dogs born after 1st July 2017.
Can any puppy enter a ZAP Character Assessment?
To enter ZAP, it must be a pedigree German Shepherd Puppy, registered in the country of its birth, micro-chipped and aged between 9 and 13 months. If the dog is entered after 13 months there is a 100 euro fine.
To see what the judge’s scoring sheet will look like and more detail with a rough English translation, visit this page: Wesen Test
Uschi vom Tönsbrock recently finished up her IGP1 title just in time to make her date with the handsome Jacksen vom La’ Mirage. Uschi is A-Normal Hips and Elbows, with strong character, solid temperament, and excellent drives….and so pretty!
I am proud to introduce Jacksen vom La’Mirage to the LDT blog readers. Jacksen, not a well-known dog….yet…2020 will be the year GSD fanciers will be buzzing about this exciting young male as he becomes more and more known.
Jacksen has a correct well-laid back shoulder and upper arm, high whither, good bone, big masculine head, correct angulation, strong back, super hair, great temperament, A-Normal Hips and A-Normal Elbows. Jacksen has earned his IGP1 and KKL. He is currently in training for his IGP 2 and 3 and will be shown in Germany and the World-sieger show. He is currently with Team Aurelius near Munich Germany.