Hunt Tests

The purpose of AKC Pointing Breed hunt tests is to allow people the opportunity to demonstrate their dog’s ability to perform under the demands of actual hunting conditions.  Judges are evaluating the dog’s natural abilities and training.  Dogs are not being judged in competition with each other, but against a standard which states what is required to achieve a qualifying score.

In a hunt test all handlers, observers, and gunners are on foot, only judges, field marshals, or bird planter may be on horseback.  Dogs are run in braces of two which are drawn in advance of the event.

Test Levels

In the Junior Hunter (JH) test a dog must show a keen desire to hunt and be bold, energetic, and independent of it’s brace mate and handler.  Dogs must find game and must point until the handler is within gun range, the handler must then fire a blank pistol to demonstrate the dog is not gun shy. The Junior dog should be responsive to its handlers commands.

In the Senior Hunter (SH) test a dog should show all of the above plus be steady to wing and flush and must remain in position until the shot or the handler’s release.  The Senior dog must retrieve to its handler.  A Senior dog must honor the brace mate’s point.

In the Master Hunter (MH) test dog must show a “completely finished” performance.  The dog must be under control at all times with a minimum of noise and hacking by the handler.  The dog must be steady to wing and shot and retrieve to hand.  The dog must honor another dogs point without being prompted by the handler        and be steady to the flush, shot and retrieve of its brace mate’s bird.

For a more complete listing of rules, objectives, and judging criteria please read the Regulations for AKC Hunting Tests for Pointing Breeds.

field_trial2015 jrhandlingstake2015 Recent Trials and Tests


Field Trials

Pointing breed field trials are performance events comprised of stakes which are broken down into the following categories: Puppy, Derby, Gundog and All Age.  Each stake has placements 1-4 because like single elimination tournaments the dogs compete against each other.  Two Judges per stake determine which dog performed best to be awarded a placement.  There are times when placements are withheld or a dog fails to qualify (NQ) because their performance is found lacking or they fail to meet the requirement for the stake.

The individuals running the dogs (handlers) can be amateurs or professionals depending upon the stake.  In Amateur stakes the handlers must be amateurs while the Open stakes may have both amateur and professional handlers. Each stake is made up of braces (two dogs) that run a predetermined and timed course where birds have been planted.  One stake may have 20 dogs entered for a total of 10 braces.  Stakes may also have entry or course restrictions or limitations that will be stated on the entry form (premium) i.e. Limited Open Gun Dog Stake.  Field trials may be designated as horse back or walking meaning the handler may ride or be required to walk the course.

Puppy stakes are for dogs 6 to 15 months of age and are evaluated on their potential and natural ability.  They are not required to point.

Derby stakes are for dogs 6 to 24 months of age, they also require minimal training but must point.

Gundog and All Age stakes are for dogs over the age of 6 months. These dogs must be trained, must point, be steady to wing and shot, retrieve on command and honor when the opportunity presents itself.

The biggest difference between the Gundog and the All Age dog is range and independence on how the dog handles the course.  The Gundog is judged as to how well it works for and with the hunter (handler) while the All Age dog is expected to hunt the course with more independence and to range further away from the hunter (handler).  Both are expected to have good hunting style and cover the course efficiently.

An individual can train and handle their own dog or have their dog trained by a professional if time is a factor. Some may have their dogs trained by a professional but do their     own handling at the trials.

For dogs to compete in American Kennel Club(AKC) licensed Field Trials they must be registered with AKC and be familiar with the AKC manual Field Trials Rules and Standard Procedure for Pointing Breeds.