Updated: Jun 21
Sharpness refers to how easily or how quickly a dog is "triggered".
For example; on the lower end of this scale you have a dog who does not perceive threat very easily, if at all. This dog is a happy-go-lucky dog who believes everyone is a potential friend. An attacker may walk into the house and this dog will greet him at the door and invite him in for tea.
On the opposite end of this scale you have a dog who is easily triggered with a high suspicion of strangers. This dog believes everyone is a potential threat, until shown otherwise. With a dog like this something as simple as a hard stare can trigger an aggressive response.
Between these two extremes are many different "degrees" of sharpness. A dog is not necessarily one or the other. The above are only the extreme example for ease of explanation.
2. Default response to a threat.
The second component refers to the dog's default response once the defensive instinct has been "triggered". How does he choose to deal with the threat? By fight, flight or avoidance (pretending it's not there.)? It goes without saying, for a protection dog we want the default and genetic response to a threat to be "fight".
The third component refers to the degree or extent the dog is willing to go to, to defuse the threat. Some dogs will go in for an attack, but the second the opponent strikes back (for some dogs this is as little as just raising your hand over the dog's head), the dog will disengage and back off. Some will try to re-engage, some will not. On the opposite end of this scale you have the very tenacious fighter. The dog that can be stabbed multiple times and still carry on fighting. This dog is not put off by a counter attack from the opponent, if anything, it makes him fight even harder. For this dog, pressure & pain is like fuel on fire, and he will die before he quits a fight.
The ideal protection dog will have medium to high sharpness, a default & genetic (ie. not trained) fight response, and medium to high tenacity. These elements are largely genetic. It can be trained to some extent, but for the most part, when a dog is under a lot of pressure and stress he will fall back on his genetics, not the training. This is why proper breeding is so crucial. A properly bred dog does not need much training other than some obedience work and guidance, support and encouragement when it comes to protection work. Training with a genetically strong dog is almost effortless, as the dog already knows what to do. He has been equipped with the right genetic code.
True protective ability is born, not made.