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Gun Dogs: A Beginner's Guide to Field Trials and Hunt Tests

By    |   Monday, 26 Oct 2015 06:16 PM

Dog sports have relevance when it comes to actual field work for the retrieving breeds. Actual hunting with your dog will get better with real-time field experiences, and field and hunt tests are one way to gain experience and fine-tune training.

The field trials feature a dog-against-dog competition, while hunt tests offer a dog-to-standards test that is scaled.

American field trials were first done by the American Kennel Club, which began the practice in the states in the 1930s.

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Both field trials and hunt tests provide a look into a dog’s core attributes, offer testimony to the selective breeding process, and provide an enjoyable experience for the dogs and their handlers.

More than one organization holds hunt tests and field trials, and each organization conducts their events differently.

Field trials are different from hunt tests in that there sometimes will be up to 100 dogs competing for first through fourth place. They perform retrievals of 400 to 600 yards and are competing for a title.

Hunt tests, on the other hand, simulate real hunts and work the dogs within about 100 yards with duck calls, decoys, and blinds. Hunt tests are not competitive, and the dogs do not work toward a title.

Today’s field trials present uniform tests with uniform objectives. They test isolated attributes in the dogs and have an almost clinical appearance and include terrain that is designed to test the dog’s skills. Some of the skills that are tested include memory, cooperation with the handler, retrieving, intelligence, and problem-solving.

Hunt tests are less competitive. Dogs participating in these are less likely to be disqualified for not meeting the strict grading structure of the field trial; instead they only have to meet the criteria for their given class. This is easier to accomplish.

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Some hunting dog enthusiasts consider the difference between the two competitions to be cosmetic, Gun Dog magazine said.

Want to get a feel for what it takes to win a trial or test? Look at trade magazines such as Field Trial News. This can give you an idea on what is expected of your dog, breeding characteristics that help the dog perform, and which trials would offer an easier starting point.

Crosscreek Kennel suggests that dog owners wishing to compete in field trials and hunt tests join a local retriever club for networking and event planning.

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Dog sports have relevance when it comes to actual field work for the retrieving breeds. Actual hunting with your dog will get better with real-time field experiences, and field and hunt tests are one way to gain experience and fine-tune training.
gun, dogs, field trials, hunt tests
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2015-16-26
Monday, 26 Oct 2015 06:16 PM
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