Author's note: This article is based in large part on one by Rik Wolterbeek. I will secure Mr. Wolterbeek's permission before formal publication.
"KNPV", seen as a suffix on the names of many Dutch dogs, is an abbreviation for "Koninklijke Nederlandse Politiehond Vereniging" or Royal Dutch Police Dog Association. This organization conducts police dog trials and offers certificates that are among the most coveted and respected in the world. This test demands a dog of great character, physical strength, agility and stamina. They are very heavy in protection work, involving distant attacks on a remote adversary who strikes the dog with a stick before he actually bites and very realistic gun tests. The dog is required to take a man down off a bicycle, the desired procedure being for the dog to take a leg or to leap high and grab the man's upper arm, so as to avoid entanglement in the wheels. There is a search for dropped objects (typically 2 or 3 coins )rather than the tracking common in this country. Over all, the KNPV trial demands very hard, tough dogs.
The KNPV was founded in 1907 and today ( 1996 ) has about 10,000 members in the Netherlands. The KNPV Board of Directors is seated in Amersfoort in the province of Utrecht. The Netherlands is divided in eleven provinces. KNPV is also divided into these same provinces. Each province has its own board, and the boards of all the provinces represent all the members of the KNPV in the meetings of the head board of KNPV.
As of April 1994 there were 509 KNPV clubs in the Netherlands, 140 certified decoys and 64 certified judges. Becoming a KNPV judge is a very difficult process, with a long series of challenging written and practical examinations. Each trial requires the services of three judges and two decoys.
In 1993 695 dogs achieved the Police Dog One ( PH-1) certificate, 82 dogs attained PH-II certificate, 117 dogs made Objectbewakingshoud (Object protection, 21 dogs received a Reddingshound title and four dogs their Speurhond ( tracking ) title. A dog may repeat an examination, but must first turn in his current certificate. If he fails, he again becomes an uncertified dog. Repeat certification attempts are unusual, but sometimes a handler feels that his dog is better than the first score and is willing to take the risk.
The Police Dog One examination has a water exercise where the dog must swim across a canal on command and return on command. There is also a large object retrieve. Obedience is much less precise but more demanding than other sports. The dog must heel on and off leash and beside a bicycle. There is a food refusal, an exercise where a dog must remain quiet during gunfire, and a one meter ( 39 inch ) hedge jump, a 2.25 meter ditch jump and a 1.75 meter wooden wall.
The protection exercises include a guard of object, object search in the woods, a person search in the woods, transport of prisoners. There is a long attack in which the dog is struck with a long stick before the bite, a call back from a long attack, an attack against the gun and a long attack to stop a person fleeing on a bicycle.
Every year in the months of May, July and October, the KNPV puts on certification tests. The Head Board of the KNPV and the board of each province organize these certifications. If there are enough dogs each province can have their own certification in each of these months. It is normal that you do your certification in your own province. The decoys and the judges are chosen by the Head Board of the KNPV and they never come to work in the province they live in for a test.
Every year in the month of June the 10 highest scoring dogs form the last three certification tests go to the National Trial for the "Object Guarding" or Objectbewakingshoud. This trial is normally held in the city of Oostebeek in the eastern part of the country.
Every year on the first Saturday of the month of September, the 10 highest scoring PH-1 dogs are invited to the Nathioal PH-1 trial. The 10 dogs must have done their certification test in the months of May or July previous to the National Trial.
This means that a dog can only once in his life compete for the most coveted police dog one national championship. For this reason, many of the best dogs are held back a year or even two to have a shot at every KNPV trainers dream, the national championship. From this we can see that the KNPV is much less of a sport than say, Schutzhund, where a dog can compete many times. This also means that a titled dog has value only as a police dog, commercial guard dog or personal protection dog and as a breeding resource, there is no "used dog market" for trained and titled animals to be taken back into KNPV competition. ( Some dogs are converted for Schutzhund, but given the age of the dogs and the differences in training and trial procedures they very seldom become championship level competitors in a new sport.)
Every year on the first Friday in the Month of September, the 12 best PH-II dogs compete in the PH-II Championship. The highest scoring dog from each of the 11 provinces, plus the National Champion from the previous year are invited. These trials are always in the city of Den Bosch.
KNPV is most popular, and the competition the most intense, in the southern provinces of the Netherlands, such as Limburg and Brabant.