Julius K9

is not the name of a famous police dog, it is the brand name of what is, most likely, the best professional dog training equipment available. They are especially famous for having developed the so-called "power harness", but more to that later. First a bit of company and K9 history. The company originates in Hungary and was founded by Julius (sic!) Sebő, born in 1970, a civil engineer. He founded in 1997 the company known today as Julius-K9. But the story started earlier than 1997, it started back in 1990 when the twenty years old Julius Sebő got involved with his local Budapest Rottweiler Club and got drawn into the different aspects of dog training and dog handling taught and exercised there. He started to get especially interested into the different ways and methods dogs were trained there and how equipment was used to help with this task.
When he and his wife moved later to Vienna (Austria), they continued to get involved with local dog clubs, included, but not restricted to, the German Shepherd Club in Vienna, but without neglecting their connections to the Budapest club back home in Hungary. From 1994 Julius Sebő also joined the trainer team at the Vienna club.
His technical background and expertise made him quickly to the "go to" person, dog trainers and other aficionados went to, when it came to dog training and dog handling equipment and soon he started to design and produce his first range of dog harnesses.
Over time, he developed this first range of harness further, always testing them where it mattered most, in the day to day work of active dogs. Of special benefit were to him his many contacts and visits to the different police dog (K9) training schools and centers in Vienna and surroundings. The input and exchange with police officers that used different types of harnesses for their professional working dogs were invaluable for the development of his first line of Julius K9 harnesses, later rebranded as Julius K9 power harnesses.
The base for the development of this power harnesses were the so-called "Kenndecken", dog security waistcoats or waist-covers, that identified a dog as a working dog on duty. The functionalities of these was often limited to reflective stripes and name tags, encouraging Julius Sebő to develop a more rounded, multi-purpose harness. The first models that were tested back in Austria were hand sewn from scrap material obtained from textile and even automative fabric producers.
The goal was to develop the best possible dog harness for a working police, security, rescue and / or guide dog. And, obviously, to found his very own company producing these and to make a living from his passion. But already the first, hand-made, models found eager buyers and users amongst the Austrian police dog (K9) handlers and from 1995 the first examples of the Julius K9 harness were for sale on the Austrian market. Mostly promoted by "word of mouth" advertisement.
Finally, in 1997, Julius Sebő founded his own company back in Hungary. To this day he not only produces and sells dog harnessses, leashes, collars and learning toys all over Europe via certified retailers, but supplies also professional dog handlers like police and rescue dog units and private dog owners, that enjoy the superior quality of the products, directly.
Since 2000 is Julius K9 located near Budapest and from this strategic position in central Europe it delivers its products Europe wide. It is still a family owned and run company, where the employees are involved in development, production and distribution of the products. These K9 related products are distributed via a network of certified retailers, holding up the standard of service, customers have to become to expect from Julius K9. For the company is important that every dog owner / handler receives the best possible advice and support, not important if the product is designed for a working police / rescue dog or a lapdog Chihuahua. Julius Sebő describes himself frequently as a perfectionist, whose most important business goal is not to make the most money, but to produce the best product for an existing need. And, in the end, this is what will secure the future of the company, as quality is hard to beat and imitate.

What brings me to a dark aspect of being an innovator, the risk of being plagiarized. Unfortunately pirate copies of Julius K9 products have found their way into the market and internet trading places like Ebay.
Julius K9 products are exclusively retailed via a network of company certified and approved retailers and specialist shops. Because of their great success, pirate copies, often made cheaply in low-cost countries, made from inferior material and with poorly copied design have appeared on the market. To check if your product is a original Julius K9 design, you can do several things:

  • You should ask the seller to prove to you the provenience of his products, including the certificate of authenticity from Julius K9 (Hungary) that confirms him as a certified retailer.
  • You should check the design AND the name or hang tags with the photos of the original designs on the Julius K9 website.
  • Be especially careful if you plan to buy via the internet or flea markets.

You can help to fight product piracy by submitting and doubts you might have to Julius K9, Hungary directly, either by fax or email. Don't forget to include information about where you bought a the suspicious product and one or more photos of it.

Product piracy not only damages a company, it can also endanger the health and even life of your dog as these pirated products are often of a dangerously low quality.

Where and by whom are Julius K9 products used nowadays?

In the beginning they were mostly used by professional dog handlers in police and rescue dog units, but nowadays they are used also by a lot of private dog owners. Official units that use Julius K9 products today include both civil and military police dog units in Austria. This happened first when rescue dogs and their handlers were send 2003 to Bam (Iraq) to help to find victims of the earthquake. Harnesses are in such situation superior to a "collar and leash system" as they not only allow the dog to move more freely, but also allow the dog handler to help their dog by lifting it via the incorporated handle or even to carry it, safely secured, on their back and even to abseil into territory the dog could never reach on its own. That makes this kind of harness the first choice for rescue dog units Europe wide, examples include, but are not restricted to the Red Cross, the Hungarian Guide Dog Association and Rescue 24.

And now a bit of background information about K9s ( pronounced "Ca-Nine's") in general. The word is a homophone that abbreviates the sound of the latin canine for "dog" to a letter and a number. It became soon a synonym for police and other working dogs, like rescue dogs. In many countries K9 have a similar official status as their dog handler when it comes to their protection by law and retirement. K9s are often issued with Ids and official badges, to help to make them recognizable as "official" dogs that are employed by law enforcing or other government services. They are used in many fields like classical police dog work as a public order enforcement dog. As search and rescue dogs, not only in case catastrophes, but also to find missed persons after a kidnap or similar. As "sniffing dogs" that help to find hidden explosives, drugs or other illegal substances, especially in the control of country borders.

In Europe, police dogs were known as early as the mid-19th century, first in Belgium where police officers took their own dogs with them on patrol. This was so successful that other European countries followed soon suit. One of the most used breeds became soon the German Shepherd dog that was especially bred to serve as a police dog. Beginning of the 20th century the first official dog units were founded throughout Europe, giving the police dogs not only official status but also protection by law – including health care and a safe retirement provision. Also training standards were developed and unified. During the First World War dogs fought alongside soldiers and helped as messenger or rescue dogs. After the war, police dog work became more specialized and dog units were founded that concentrated on one aspect of work, like, for example, searching for missing persons and that could be employed in a wider area, wherever a need arose. Nowadays police dogs are bred by specialized breeders, carefully selected and socialized and then trained, together with their human partner, in special police dog training centers. Some countries, like the Netherlands, even use trios, made up from a dog, a horse and a rider, to patrol areas and supervise outdoor events.