French Ring Sport is a protection dog sport, not unlike Schutzhund or KNPV exercises, but unique in it’s own right. The sport involves a number of trials intended to test both the dog and it’s handler. Exercises include jumps, palisades, retrieval and tests of obedience, as well as bite-work using a decoy outfitted in a special French Ring bite suit. The decoy is considered an active adversary to the dog and will do his best to confuse, enrage or otherwise undermine the training and character of the dog. The German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Doberman Pinscher and Rottweiler are the most common breeds used in French Ring.
However, a list of other mid-sized to large breeds are permitted to participate, provided they’re up to the challenge. After earning the title of Brevet, which deems a dog fit to participate in the sport, the titles Ring I, Ring II and Ring III may be awarded to dogs who perform admirably. Each title provides increasingly challenging exercises with Ring III being the most difficult to obtain. Dogs who have obtained the title of Ring III must work hard to score consistently high to avoid being demoted back to Ring II.
The history of French Ring shares close ties to Belgian Ring Sport. Both originated in the late 1800’s as a way to determine a dog’s suitability for breeding. Edmond Moecheron, a Belgian Shepherd dog breeder, is credited by some as being the father of ring sport. His demonstrations throughout Belgium, France and Holland undoubtedly helped inspire French and Belgian Ring Sport as well as K.N.P.V. exercises. In 1907, the first ring sport was conducted in Mechelen, Belgium. The establishment of separate rules for French and Belgian Ring would grow from here.
The Bouvier des Flandres is the breed most noted for it’s shepherding, and later, protection work in France. The Bouvier des Flandres and Belgian Malinois breeds have shared intense competition in sporting events. However, many people now regard the Belgian Malinois as being the breed best suited for Ring Sport.
In 1986, French Ring was introduced to North America, and the North American Ringsport Association (N.A.R.A.) was formed under guidance from the Societe Centrale Canine (S.C.C.) in France. In 1987, Mondioring Sport was formed in Tournai, Belgium. Mondioring combines what it considers to be the best elements of Belgian Ring, French Ring, K.N.P.V. and Schutzhund. Changes in rules and exercises over the years, as well as similarities between various Dog Sports have lead to the use of the term International Ring Sport in recent history.
Whether you call it French Ring or International Ring Sport, French and Belgian traditions have maintained one of the toughest and most exciting dog sports in the world.