Basic Information on AKC Performance Events

The following is some information that has been compiled on various performance events offered by the AKC. For more information please check the AKC web site or send away for pertinent literature on the rules and regulations for each event.

Field Trials and Hunting Tests

Field trials are held separately for pointing breeds, retrievers and spaniels, as well as Beagles, Basset Hounds and Dachshunds. Field trials are practical demonstrations of the dog's ability to perform, in the field, the functions for which they were bred. The titles that are awarded are Field Champion and Amateur Field Champion.

Retrievers, pointing breeds, spaniels and Standard Poodles are eligible to participate in Hunting tests. Here, owners of these breeds can obtain an evaluation of their dogs' hunting ability. A dog's performance is evaluated at three levels, and again, each succeeding level is increasingly difficult. Dogs successfully completing the respective levels earn the titles Junior Hunter (JH), Senior Hunter (SH), and Master Hunter (MH).

The AKC Hunting Test program

The AKC Hunting Test program for Retrievers was launched in early 1985 when AKC's Hunting Test Regulations were introduced. The program is meant to complement the AKC's successful Retriever Field Trial program.

The Hunting Test program is a program of certification; it seeks to identify and recognize officially those dogs that possess the abilities that enable them to serve effectively as personal hunting companions. Certification is provided on three levels in the form of the official AKC suffix titles Junior Hunter (JH), Senior Hunter (SH) and Master Hunter (MH). Degree certificates are issued to owners and titles are recorded on all of AKC's registration and pedigree records.

The AKC Hunting Test regulations have been designed in such a manner that the officials of a test-giving club and the judges have considerable latitude in the conduct of a test. This is to allow for variations in conditions that are peculiar to various parts of the country, and also to grant judges unlimited opportunities for ingenuity in planning tests.

Retrievers should perform equally well on the land and in the water, and must be thoroughly tested on both.

Judges must evaluate the dogs in several categories to determine their value as a hunting retriever.

Each category is graded on a scale of 1-10 over the course of the test. For a dog to pass a test, the dog must receive a minimum score of at least "5" in each category, as well as an overall average score of at least "7". In addition, a dog cannot receive a score of "0" (zero) at any time during the test.

AKC Junior Hunting Test

The Junior Hunter Test requires two single marks on land and two single marks on water. A single mark means a single bird is thrown and the dog watches the bird fall. Upon command, dog should promptly retrieve and deliver the bird to the hand (i.e.. hold onto the bird so that the handler takes it directly from the dog's mouth).

The distance of the marks should not be more than 100 yards. Dogs should be steady, but may be brought to the line on leash. Dogs may be restrained gently with a slip cord, or held gently by the collar until sent to retrieve.

In order to be recorded as a Junior Hunter, a dog must have acquired qualifying scores in 4 Junior Hunting Tests. Upon completion of these requirements, an AKC Junior Hunter certificate will be issued to the owner, and the dog shall have the suffix JH appended to it name in all official AKC records.

Dogs that have passed one or more Master or Senior Hunting Tests are ineligible to enter a Junior Hunting Test. A dog which has earned it's JH title may continue to enter Junior Hunting Tests, but no further certificates will be issued.

AKC Senior Hunting Test

A Senior Hunting Test requirements include:

The dogs shall be steady on the line and no collar or leads can be used. The test usually incorporates one of the marks as a shot flyer. In addition, the ground conditions will generally be somewhat harder than those found in a Junior Hunting Test (I.E. deeper mud, taller grass, etc).

In order to be recorded as a Senior Hunter, a dog must have acquired qualifying scores in 5 Senior Hunting Tests (a JH title counts as 1 qualifying score in a Senior Hunting Test). Upon completion of these requirements, an AKC Senior Hunter certificate will be issued to the owner, and the dog shall have the suffix SH appended to it name in all official AKC records.

Dogs that have passed one or more Master Hunting Tests are ineligible to enter a Senior Hunting Test. A dog which has earned it's SH title may continue to enter Senior Hunting Tests, but no further certificates will be issued.

AKC Master Hunting Test

A Master Hunting Test requirements include:

These dogs are representing a truly complete hunting dog. They shall be steady on the line and no collar or leads can be used. The test usually incorporates a shot flyer in several of the marks. In addition, the ground conditions will generally be those matching some of the harshest conditions and distances that may be found in hunting situations (e.g.. chest deep mud, grass and weeds over their head, etc).

In order to be recorded as a Master Hunter, a dog must have acquired qualifying scores in 6 Master Hunting Tests (a SH title counts as 1 qualifying score in a Master Hunting Test). Upon completion of these requirements, an AKC Master Hunter certificate will be issued to the owner, and the dog shall have the suffix MH appended to it name in all official AKC records.

A dog which has earned it's MH title may continue to enter Master Hunting Tests, but no further certificates will be issued. However, running in additional Master tests can qualify the dog for entry in for Master National Test. The Master National is held once a year and dogs can qualify to enter by passing 4 Master tests during the previous year. The 1994 Master National was held in Minden, Nevada with 223 qualified dogs running and 34 dogs passing after running 6 series of tests. The AKC does not yet have designation on a dogs title to show that it has passed a Master National test.

Obedience Trials

Obedience trials are tests of man and dog. In obedience, the dog must perform a prescribed set of exercises which the judge grades - or as it is called by obedience enthusiasts - scores. The dog's conformation has no bearing on its being able to compete in obedience. Dogs that would be disqualified from the show ring under a breed standard, even spayed bitches and neutered dogs, may compete in obedience trials.

Obedience is divided into three levels, each more difficult than the preceding one. At each level a competitor is working for an AKC obedience degree or title. the three levels and titles are: Novice - Companion Dog (C.D.); Open - Companion Dog Excellent (C.D.X.); and Utility - Utility Dog (U.D.).

Novice work embraces the basics that all dogs should be taught to make them good companions. The six exercises in Novice work are: heel on leash, stand for examination, heel free, recall, long sit, long down. Open work consists of seven exercises: heel free, drop on recall, retrieve on flat, retrieve over the high jump, broad jump, long sit, and long down. Utility work consists of: signal exercise, two scent discrimination tests, directed retrieve and directed jumping.

To receive an obedience title a dog must earn three "legs." To get credit for a leg, a dog must score at least 170 points out of a possible 200 (the passing score and grand total are the same at each level, although the exercises vary), and get more than fifty percent on each exercise.

Only dogs that have earned the Utility Dog title can earn points toward an Obedience Trial Championship. Championship points are recorded for dogs earning a First or Second place in Open B or Utility Class (or Utility B, if divided) according to the schedule of points established by the AKC Board of Directors. To become an Obedience Trial Champion a dog must win 100 points that include a First place in Utility (or Utility B, if divided) with at least three dogs in competition, a First place in Open B with at least six dogs in competition, and a third First place in either of these competitions. The three First places must be won under three different judges.

Tracking

Tracking tests, held under AKC regulations, require a dog to follow a trail by scent. A dog passing such a test earns a Tracking Dog title (TD). Mastery of a more advanced test entitles the dog to use the letters TDX for Tracking Dog Excellent after its name. The Variable Surface Tracking Test (VST) is a test of credibility, verifying the dog's ability to recognize and follow human scent while adapting to changing scenting conditions. TD, TDX and VST are the titles awarded in tracking. A fourth title, CT (Champion Tracker), can be used by dogs that have all three tracking titles. Dogs that have earned either TD or a TDX title are eligible to take the VST test.

Agility

The purpose of the AKC agility trials is to afford owners the opportunity to demonstrate a dog's willingness to work with its handler under a variety of conditions. The program begins with basic entry level agility, and progresses to more complex levels that require dogs to demonstrate higher levels of training and interaction with their handlers.

Agility results in a well-rounded, conditioned dog, provides good basic training for search and rescue dogs, demonstrates good training and citizenship, and has excellent spectator appeal.

All dogs 12 months of age or older that are registered with the AKC, have an Indefinite Listing Privilege (ILP) number or that have AKC Limited Registration are eligible to participate.

The following titles may be acquired: Novice Agility (NA), Open Agility (OA), Agility Excellent (AX) and Master Agility Excellent (MX); Novice Jumpers With Weaves (NAJ), Open Jumpers With Weaves (OAJ), Excellent Jumpers With Weaves (AXJ), and Master Excellent Jumpers With Weaves (MXJ).

The purpose of AKC agility trials is to afford owners the opportunity to demonstrate a dog's willingness to work with its handler under a variety of conditions. The program begins with basic entry level agility, and progresses to more complex levels that require dogs to demonstrate higher levels of training and interactions with their handlers. Agility results in a better rounded, conditioned dog, provides good basic training for search and rescue dogs, demonstrates good training and citizenship and has excellent spectator appeal. Agility trials are a sport and all participants should be guided by the principles of good sportsmanship both in and outside the trial course. [taken from AKC Regulations]

AKC Titles

Titles are earned by winning in competition, whether in dog shows or performance events. Listed below are the AKC titles your dog could earn.