What is the SV "Puppy test" - and why
The ZAP-W test is a temperament test for German Shepherd Dogs from age 9 to 12 months and is part of the SV-ZuchtAnlagenPrüfung (SV-ZAP) Scheme introduced by the Schaeferhunde Verein (SV). The SV-ZAP Scheme is part of the WUSV Breeding Program. The second part of the SV-ZAP Scheme, ZAP-A, is a 3-discipline PASS/FAIL title. The ZAP-A is very similar to the IGP-ZTP and IGP-1 (FCI Utility Dog Scheme) except for the entry eligibility criteria: ZAP-A entry requirements are a passed ZAP-W and AD endurance title. In the WUSV Breeding Program, the ZAP-A part may be replaced with IGP-ZTP or IGP-1.
What's involved in a ZAP-W Puppy Assessment?
There are a total of 18 exercises which assess:
Play & Prey Drive
The various exercises are not performed in 'obedience mode' and commands are limited. The response/behaviour of the dog during the various exercises are noted in a standard assessment matrix. A dog will receive a Certificate if passing the assessment.
A handler is allowed to present a maximum of 2 dogs.
Why is the Puppy Test important?
The SV incentive is to build a database of the responses/behaviours of young dogs to everyday scenarios. The exercises were carefully developed to capture the personality of a young dog. Personality is scientifically defined as the sum of Temperament and Character:
Why Temperament and Character are different
Temperament is defined by intrinsic traits, "It's in the genes". This is the instinctive part that always show up first. For example, some babies are more likely to have a good mood or a bad mode. In human terms, these babies are often referred to as 'easier' or 'more difficult'. As Temperament is genetic, it is hard to modify, manipulate or change. This is what the ZAP-W aims to capture/describe using a standardised template.
Character is derived from environmental exposure & training. It's a reflection of cultivation. Its about social interactions and educational habits. It shapes the personality and only takes its fullest form during adolescence. Subject to the instinctive based temperament, a handler can take (some) control over the temperament and develop the character of the dog. The success (or failure) to do this is subject to the drives and trainability.
The ZAP-W assesses the instinctive drives and temperament. The ZAP-A assesses the trainability and resulting personality in the grown up dog. Collectively, the SV-ZAP Scheme - developed to gauge breeding eligibility. The scheme should be used by responsible breeders - and if you plan to get a GSD puppy, ask the breeder whether the parents have been tested for these traits so characteristic of the German Shepherd.
Instinct versus Drive
The Drive determines the degree to which a dog exhibits Instinctive behaviour
Instincts have their roots in survival or reproduction. Drive has its beginning as instinct but more developed - AND OFTEN BREED SPECIFIC (or should be: retrieving drive for hunting dog breeds; herding drive in sheep dog breeds, etc) .
Examples of Instincts versus Drive
it is instinctive for a dog to salivate and eat, but the food drive determines how often, how eagerly and how intensely the dog pursues food.
To chase a ball should be instinctive for a German Shepherd - but it relies on the extent of its prey drive and certain hunting instincts (assessed in ZAP-W).
To pick the ball up and continually return it to you shows developed retrieving drive ("The Trainability") - the ZAP-A part.
Why should I do it if not planning to breed?
The intent of the SV/WUSV is to generate a database of Temperament, Character & Trainability. When the database is big enough, then these records will be interrogated to determine whether it is possible to predict personalities of future GSD generations in a more scientific matter than the commonly "the mother/dad, grand parents" won such and such. The more dogs that are assessed, the more meaningful outcomes from statistical analyses aimed to identify BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS anchored 'in the genes', i.e. inherited. Something that should be of interest to any person wanting to buy a GSD puppy.
Where do I find the next ZAP-W event?
Visit the WGSDCA Event site to find an event or follow our WGSDCA Facebook page to see the announcements.