American Schutzhund began in 1957, when a small group of GSD fanciers in the Santa Clara Valley in California began to meet and train their dogs under the leadership of Czechoslovakian immigrant Gernot Riedel. In 1958, this group became the first U.S. Schutzhund Club: the Peninsula Police Canine Corp (PPCC, known today as just Peninsula Canine Corp, or PCC). PPCC held the very first Schutzhund trial on American soil in 1963; at the time, this trial did not include the tracking phase, as the training and participation was influenced heavily by police and law enforcement. The first official SV-sanctioned Schutzhund trial (with all three phases) took place in Los Angeles in 1969, under the direction of Dr. Henry Friehs.
At this point in time, the first overarching Schutzhund organization in the U.S. – the North American Schutzhund Association, or NASA – was founded. Trials were held under the auspices of NASA until 1972, at which point the SV (Schaeferhunde Verein, or the parent GSD breed club in Germany) required trials to be held under the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA), the official breed club for the GSD in America. The GSDCA’s sponsorship and support for Schutzhund was short-lived, however; by 1975, the GSDCA had declared a moratorium on all Schutzhund trials, as the American Kennel Club (AKC) did not wish to be involved with this sport. Unlike the countries of Western Europe, the United States did not have a long and accepted tradition of working dogs. Most breeders at the time bred for the conformation ring, and emphasized beauty and side gait instead of character and trainability. Thus, this concept of a working trial that served as a breedworthiness test was met with suspicion.
This was the impetus for the development of the United Schutzhund Clubs of America. On November 21, 1975, a fledgling USCA (initially known as USA) officially formed and began its journey to become the premier Schutzhund organization in the United States. At its inception, USCA consisted of only six full member clubs and seven affiliated clubs (by 2013, this number had increased to over 200 full member clubs!). By 1977, the newly formed USCA held its very first National Championship, a prerequisite to sending a team from the U.S. to compete at the international level. It was hosted by the Greater Dallas Working Dog Club in Dallas, TX, and was open to all breeds at this point. The judge was SV Judge Ludwig Ernst from Germany. This was the year USCA also sent its first team to the International IPO3 German Shepherd Dog Championship, known as “the Worlds”, or the EUSV (European Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs—soon to be WUSV, or World Union of German Shepherd Dog Clubs).
By 1981, USCA added another national event to its roster: the North American Championship, which often included an FH championship (advanced tracking championship) as well. 1990 saw the addition of a national Sieger Show, as well as the addition of the “World Qualifier”, a GSD-only trial that selected for the top dog/handler teams to represent the United States at the WUSV Championship. This “World Qualifier” was the trial that would eventually become the IPO3 National Championship.
In March 2000, the first all-GSD National IPO3 Championship was held, hosted by Mo-Kan Schutzhund Association. This replaced the original World Qualifier trial, and is known today as the USCA GSD IPO3 National Championship, or simply “The Nationals.”