Retriever Tests and Trials

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The Golden Retriever was developed as a functional hunting retriever in Scotland.  Many people (myself included) still use the breed for its original purpose and breed to preserve these working traits.  In addition to actual hunting, there are a number of competitive venues in which owners may run their dogs in order to demonstrate that their dogs still possess those working traits.

There are three different groups of CKC field events in which Goldens may participate alongside the other retriever breeds, Irish Water Spaniels and Standard Poodles.  These are the Working Certificate program (WC/WCI/WCX), Hunt Tests (JH/SH/MH) and Field Trials.  Other bodies, such as NAHRA and UKC HRC, also offer field events.

Working Certificate

The Working Certificate was designed to demonstrate whether or not dogs possessed the natural retrieving instinct and trainability to be a working companion to the average hunter.

This program involves a test in which a passing performance earns the title.  Dogs who pass the test will be permitted to have the letters of that title added after their registered name.

Hunt Tests

The Hunt Test program was designed to test the working abilities of dogs in conditions as closely approximating real field conditions and situations as possible.  At each level, the dog must earn three or more "legs" or passing scores to earn the title.  A passing score is considered 70% or better, with no single category scoring less than an average of 50% from the scores of the two judges.

A dog who has earned a hunt test title will have the title letters appearing after their registered name.

Field Trials

This is the elite level of field work.  Many of the people involved in this aspect of field work are professional trainers who work with dogs from purpose-bred bloodlines.  The quality of work and intensity of focus of these dogs is really something to behold.  There are no limits on the distances for marks or blinds.

The dogs who compete in field trial events are scored on their performance with the purpose of determining a winner in each stake.  Winning dogs in these events may earn the titles FTCH and AFTCH (if handled by an amateur) before their names.  At the qualifying level, dogs may earn the QFTR suffix title.  Dogs with placements or JAMS in Qualifying or Junior will often be indicated in pedigrees with *** or **.

The Events

Working Certificates

Working Certificate (WC): back to back singles on land and back to back singles on water

Working Certificate Intermediate (WCI): a land double, an honour on land, and a water double

Working Certificate Excellent (WCX): a walk up test with a land double or land/water double, an honour on the walk-up, a water double, a land blind, and a water blind.

Hunt Tests

Junior Hunter (JH): 2 single land marks, and 2 single water marks.  Dogs should not be handled on more than one mark.  Dogs may be brought to line on lead and restrained until sent and need not yet be  steady.  Collars or leads shall be removed before the dog is sent.  Three legs must be earned for this title.

Senior Hunter (SH): dogs shall be tested on at least 5 hunting situations including a land blind and a water blind (run singly or in combination), a double land mark and a double water mark, an upland hunting test, and a walk-up in combination with one of these situations.  Dogs shall be steady on line, and given the opportunity to honour.  Diversions shot(s) shall be used.  Four legs must be earned for this title.

Master Hunter (MH): dogs shall be tested on a minimum of 5 hunting situations including multiple land marks, multiple water marks, an upland hunting test, a land blind(s) and a water blind(s).There shall be at least three series.  Diversion birds shall be used at least once. Triple marks are encouraged for the multiples.  Dogs must be steady and must be provided at least one opportunity to honour.  Five legs must be earned for this title.  Once the title is earned, MH dogs may continue to compete to earn further passes towards their Grand Master Hunter title, which requires 10 additional Master passes, and may compete in the annual National Master (if they have met the qualifying requirements) to pursue the National Master Hunter title.

Field Trials

Junior Stake aka Derby: for dogs up to two years of age; Four series, usually done as two sets of land marks and two sets of water marks that are generally doubles or really challenging singles.

Qualifying Stake: open to dogs who have not won a 1st-4th, or CM in an Open (or a Limited, or Special) All-Age stake, 1st-4th in Amateur All-Age, or five 1sts in Qualifying.  Generally organized into four series: land marks multiple, land blind, water blind, and water marks multiple. Retired guns are possible.

Amateur Stake: the All-Age stake for dogs handled by an amateur. Generally organized into four series: land marks multiple, land blind, water blind, and water marks multiple.  The blinds tend to be technically complex, and marks are most often triples or more, sometimes with gun station(s) retired.

Open Stake: the All-Age stake for dogs handled by anyone, including professionals.  This stake tends to be dominated by professional handlers. Generally organized into four series: land marks multiple, land blind, water blind, and water marks multiple.  The blinds tend to be even more technically complex, and marks are most often triples or more, most often with gun station(s) retired after marks are thrown