As trainers, we know that a protection dog must have a certain combination of traits in order to excel in its role. Certain bloodlines have been bred to have a higher concentration of desirable traits, including the right temperament, sufficient pain tolerance, physical strength and endurance, a lightweight bone structure, speed and stamina, and similar other traits. Traditionally, protection dogs serving in the Czech Border Patrol have been bred to have a very high concentration of the most desirable skills for a protection role. For this reason, our trained protection dogs carry elements of this bloodline as well as elements from other bloodlines that are conducive to the best bred and most effective trained protection dog.
Just over a quarter of a century ago in 1989, the so-named “Velvet Revolution” overthrew the Czech Republic’s communist regime. Prior to that time, the Czech Republic’s governance included a corps of elite German Shepherds bred and trained to patrol the Republic’s borders. The name of this corps was z Pohranicni Straze. All of the dogs were bred and trained by a single entity: the Czech Border Patrol Kennel. Once fully grown and trained, the dogs’ job was simple enough: prevent any citizen from successfully crossing over the border to freedom. Each day, a single dog could net up to 30 civilians trying to sneak across the border. And each day, many of these dogs would step in to protect their trainers from the backlash of violence that often ensued.
Under the umbrella of the Czech Border Patrol Kennel, there were three separate breeding locations: Prackovice, Domazlice, and Libejovice. First established in 1956, each location was classified and the entrance was limited to those with top-secret clearance. To this end, each breeding location was surrounded on all sides by the Czech army base at that same location.
All breeding, whelping, and training were carried out inside the kennel location under the meticulous direction of Head Breeder Mr. Jiri Novotny. Each kennel was fully staffed for the effort with veterinarians, dog trainers, breeders, and assistants. The dogs themselves – females, stud dogs, and puppies – were looked after and cared for with the help of military trainees and newly enlisted recruits. Each whelped and trained dog was paired with a handler whose sole job was to look after the dog and work together to patrol the borders between the Czech Republic and Germany and Austria. The goal was always the same: to keep Czechs in and Germans and Austrians out.
The Czech breeding program included a total of 80+ females of breeding age along with 30+ stud dogs. In addition to their responsibilities of siring the next generation of border patrol dogs, stud dogs were required to train and serve as border patrol dogs with their handlers. In addition to the three fully-owned, top-secret Czech Republic on-base breeding kennels, Mr. Novotny also periodically partnered with three additional private breeders to keep the bloodlines healthy and diverse. These three kennels were Jipo-me, z-Jirkova dvora and z Blatenskeho Zamku. The first kennel was owned by a close personal friend of the Head Breeder, Mr. Jiri Novotny. The second kennel was owned by Mr. Novotny’s own father. The third kennel was owned by another breeder named Zdenek Koubek. All breeding is done in partnership with these three private kennels also took place under the scrutiny and direction of Mr. Novotny on behalf of the Czech Army Border Patrol corps.
The goals of the breeding program have not changed since its inception in 1956. Breeding continues to emphasize dark color (pigment), strong bones, an even temperament, high pain tolerance, high endurance, obedience, and willingness to partner with a human handler to learn defense and tracking skills.
The collapse of the Czech Republic’s communist regime in 1989 changed many things about the country, not the least of which was the role of the Czech Army and its Border Patrol corps. Interestingly, and contrary to popular belief, the demands on the Border Patrol corps have actually increased in the wake of its transition into becoming a parliamentary democracy, with a President that is elected and a Constitution that includes a Charter outlining each Czech citizen’s Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. The reason for this increase is twofold: there are those who are unable or unwilling to obtain a legal entry visa who try to cross to take advantage of the freedoms of living in a democracy, and there are criminals who enter to try to profit from this same transition.
Because of this increase in unauthorized border patrol activity, today’s K-9 border protection dogs are receiving increased training in protecting their handlers from knives and firearms. Of particular concern even for trained protection dogs and their handlers are the criminals, who are often representatives from a much larger ring of organized crime and come prepared for violence as their price of entry.
Today, the z Pohranicni Straze has been renamed the Pohranicni Policie, or Border Police. As well, the location where the protection dogs receive their training is no longer sequestered inside army bases but is located at various police training facilities instead.