Disclaimer: This is not an AKC sanctioned document. It is not meant
to be definitive, exhaustive, nor authoritative. This information is
provided by me as a convenient resource only. You should contact the
AKC directly for official
information from them.
Cindy Moore, Copyright 1995.
Yes, the AKC is online! They have just opened up a Web page at
and have an email address at email@example.com
Note that the AKC has regulations
covering every aspect of
show rings, trials, field events, junior showmanship, etc. For
booklets on these regulations, you may write to the AKC and ask for
them. They will send you the first booklet free and charge 50 cents
per booklet for more than one in a single request. The booklets are
sized to fit in a #10 envelope; while the AKC doesn't require a SASE,
you will probably get a quicker response with one.
Alternatively if you attend a
local dog show, some of these booklets will be freely available.
Below is a summary of the
activities the AKC offers and is not comprehensive.
Note that "test" generally refers to a non-competitive
event and "trial" to one that is competitive.
When people think of "showing," they are usually thinking of
conformation showing. However, "showing" actually comprises showing
your dog under any of three categories: conformation (meeting physical
standards), field (meeting working standards), or obedience (meeting
obedience standards). All AKC-recognized breeds are eligible to show
under conformation and obedience. Field trials are reserved for those
breeds bred for such work, except for the tracking trials which are
open to all, and are tailored to the type of work bred for: e.g.,
hunting, retrieving, pointing, herding, and coursing.
To start showing requires an investment of time, money, and contacts.
But it is a richly rewarding area, and there are hundreds of thousands
of people throughout the world who enjoy competing with their dogs
under Kennel Club auspices. This article summarizes the titles and
events offered by the American Kennel Club.
For showing in the AKC, the only pre-requirement is that the dog be
registered with the AKC (either litter registration, individual
registration, or ILP), and be at least 6 months old the day of the trial.
Shots should be current for your own dog's health. If the showing is
in conformation, the dog must also be sexually intact.
Indefinite Listing Privilege
If your dog is or appears to be (AKC-recognized) purebred but is
unregistered or your dog is a breed currently in AKC's Miscellaneous
Class, you can get an ILP (Indefinite Listing Privilege) number
to do anything but conformation and field work. The procedure for getting
an ILP is as follows:
If your dog isn't purebred or is a breed not recognized by AKC, you
can still get titles through breed-specific clubs, rare-breed clubs,
alternative kennel clubs, or mixed-breed clubs.
For example, AMBOR (American Mixed Breed Obedience Registry), at 205
First Street SW, New Prague, MN 56071, offers obedience and other
titles to mixed breed and rare breed dogs with the UKC.
UKC and SKC often
recognize breeds that the AKC does not, and the UKC has a special
program to allow mixed breed dogs to compete in performance trials.
- Write to the AKC for a form.
- Fill out the form -- it asks what the history of the dog is, where
you got it, why you think it is pure-bred. Eg, a breeder's
opinion that the dog is purebred, it was rescued through a breed
rescue club, etc.
- Take two pictures of your dog -- one side shot standing, one front
- Have your dog neutered. This is required for all dogs that are
applying for ILPs except for those in the Miscellaneous class.
Include the veterinarian's certificate of neutering in with the
- Mail the form, pictures, and certificate of neutering along with
Naming and registration
A dog's registered name must meet the following criteria
(from "AKC Policies And Guidelines for Registration Matters")
All names are subject to AKC approval. Names may not be changed
unless the AKC has made a mistake and
the dog has not yet been bred or earned any titles.
This is rare, so choose a name carefully and print legibly!
- Name length is limited to 25 characters, not including spaces,
apostrophes and hyphens.
- Letters in the name are restricted to the standard English
alphabet; apostrophes, hyphens, and spaces are the only
punctuation that appear in a dog's name. The certificate
will be printed in all upper case.
- Lifetime kennel names and registered name prefixes cannot
be used without the consent of the owner of the name.
- No arabic numbers, no Roman numerals at the end of the name.
- A limit of 37 dogs in one breed may have the same name.
- AKC reserves the right to append Roman numerals to the end of a
name for identification purposes.
- Spelled out cardinal and ordinal numbers may be used (e.g.,
First, One, Two, Third, etc).
- The name may not contain "Champion," "Champ," "Sieger," or
any other show term/AKC title, spelled or abbreviated.
- Obscenities or derogatory words may not be used.
- "Kennel," "dog," "male," "sire," "stud," "bitch," "dam," and
"female" may not appear in the name.
- The name may not consist of the breed name alone.
- Names of living or recently dead persons may not be used.
- An imported dog must be registered under the same name that
it was registered in its country of birth.
Junior showmanship is for children under 18 and over 10 years of
age. They are judged on their skills in handling and presenting
their dogs in the ring -- the dogs themselves are not judged although
they must be AKC registered and over 6 months of age. In order for
a child to being showing in Junior Showmanship, an AKC Junior Handler
number must be obtained from the AKC.
Regular Junior Showmanship classes include Novice and Open. Novice
is for all boys and girls who have not one three first place awards in
this class. Open is for those that have. The classes may be further
divided into Junior and Senior classes, the former for 10 to under 14
year olds and the latter for those 14 to under 18 years of age.
Best Junior Handler may be awarded by the host club. Those that
placed first in their class and are undefeated in any other class, may
compete for this award.
When showing a dog in conformation, either
you or a professional hander must "show"
the dog in the ring. Whether or not you choose to use a handler can
depend on the breed of dog you are showing: it can be hard to break
into popular breeds and a handler can help gain recognition; with a
rare or less popular breed, the choice of handler is not as crucial.
If you co-own a dog with the breeder, they may handle your dog for
you. If you handle your own dogs, then like any "sport," as an
amateur, you need to be trained, prepared, and ready to compete with
the pros. Take the time to learn the ropes, how to present your dogs,
and how to groom. Ideally, you should find a mentor to help you learn
what you need to know.
Keep in mind that the next new show and the next new judge may pick
the second place dog over the first place dog under the same
conditions that the other dog won under. Different judges have
different preferences in conformation, It's usually better to try and
show under a judge that likes what your dog has to offer in strong
points. Other judges may see something else in other dogs that they
prefer over what your dog has. A year later or the next show, that
same judge may like your dog better. It depends on how the dog is
"showing" each day. Dogs have good and bad days like people do.
A Champion (CH) must obtain 15 points. Of those 15 points, two majors (a
show where 3, 4, or 5 points are won) must be obtained under two
different judges. The remaining points can come from 1 or 2 (or
more!) point shows; at least one of these must be from a third judge.
A dog must win at least the Winners Dog (WD) or Winners Bitch (WB) to
After the Winner's Dog and the Winner's Bitch are picked out,
competition goes on to the "Best of Breed" (BOB) class in which
the WD and the WB compete against dogs that already have their
championship. From this class, the Best of Breed (BOB) and Best
Opposite Sex (BOS) are selected; if the BOB is male, the BOS is
female and vice versa.
AKC groups all the breeds into seven groups (Sporting, Non-Sporting,
Working, Herding, Terrier, Toy, and Hound). All of the BOB winners
within each breed then compete at Group level (against all other dogs
in their Group that won their respective BOB) for Group I (first place),
II (second place), III (third place), and
IV (fourth place). All seven Group I dogs then compete for Best in Show.
Here's a quick chart to help you get on track:
Best of Breed (points toward CH from greater points
| from either sex of class dogs including
| all specials, if also WD/WB)
Best of Opposite Sex (points toward CH from greater points
| from either sex of class dogs plus
| specials of same sex, if also WD/WB)
(WD/WB, Specials and Veterans compete for BOB/BOS)
Best of Winners (points toward CH taken from WD/WB,
/ \ whichever had more points)
Winner's dog Winner's bitch (points towards CH from
/ \ same sex group)
(first in each class advances to Winner's competition)
Open class Open class
American Bred American Bred
Bred by Exhibitor Bred by Exhibitor
Dogs (12-18 mo.) Bitches (12-18 mo.)
Puppy dogs (9-12 mo.) Puppy bitches (9-12 mo.) (split in puppy
Puppy dogs (6-9 mo.) Puppy bitches (6-9 mo.) classes optional)
The classes are as follows:
- is for any dog, and very often
winners will be chosen from this class. Not always, but usually, since
serious contenders are typically placed in Open.
Open classes may be broken up depending on how many dogs are showing
that day. For example, Labradors sometimes have Open Yellow, Open
Black, and Open Chocolate; Dobermans might have Open Black and
Any Solid Color Other than Black (ASCOB).
- American Bred
- is for those dogs born in the USA. This class is
often used if the handler has another dog in Open already.
- Bred by Exhibitor
- is often considered a prestigious class particularly
at specialties -- breeders show their own dogs here, and winning
WD/WB from this class is usually highly prized by breeders.
- is for those dogs that
have not yet won a class and is used for practice with dogs that are
too old for the puppy divisions.
- The puppy classes (6-9/9-12/12-18)
- are usually for practice for young dogs although WD/WB can certainly
come from these classes. The puppy classes may or many not be split
among the three age groups and the 12-18 group may or may not be
present at all; it depends on how many dogs are present.
A specialty is a dog show devoted to one particular breed. Both breed
and obedience classes are usually offered.
Now for some more obscure stuff:
Reserve Winners (one for WD and one for WB) *may* get points if the
winner of their sex is later disqualified. This can happen if the dog
is improperly entered (into the wrong class, for example). So reserve
wins can be important. The Reserve will only replace the Winner's
position: if the disqualified Winner went on to win higher places,
those are not awarded to the Reserve (but they are still removed from
the disqualified dog). Reserve to a Winner is chosen from the dogs
remaining from that Winners competition, plus the dog that received
second place in the class the Winners Dog or Bitch came from.
Specials are Champions; they do not normally compete in the classes,
although they may. Normally, Specials compete directly
for BOB/BOS along with the WD and WB in the Best of Breed competition
that is held after WD/WB is selected from the classes. While they are
not awarded points if they win, many breed clubs award national
ratings to dogs based on the total number of dogs of the same breed
that the dog has won over for a calendar year. Each club calculates
the ratings slightly differently although there are some standard
Best of Winners picks up the greater of the points that WD/WB has.
This means that it's possible for a WD that got a 1 point minor
to pick up the 3 point major that the WB got if he is awarded
BOW over the WB (the WB retains her 3 point major).
If the WD/WB goes Best of Breed, that dog is automatically
Best of Winners and picks up the appropriate points.
Thus, a 1 or 2 point show can turn into a major depending on how high
your dog goes.
Group winners are chosen from the BOB and BOS from each breed within
the group (all dogs are grouped into Toy, Sporting, Working, etc.
groups): Group I is first place, Group II second place and so on.
Dogs that go on to win Best In Show will get as many points as any dog
they defeat, if those points total more than what they have garnered
so far (but never for more than a total of five points).
But the only dogs that are actually awarded points are the dogs that
were initially Winners Dog or Winners Bitch for their breed.
Therefore, specials or veterans do not get points no matter how many
dogs they won over, which makes sense as they are already Champions
and do not need the points.
The number of points obtained at a particular show is dependent on the
number of dogs or bitches present, the breed, and the geographical
location of the show. There is a point schedule that determines the
ranges: rarer breeds require fewer dogs for points whereas popular
breeds must have more dogs present for the same points. This point
schedule can be found in the catalog available at all shows.
Standards are the "bluprints" for the breeds. Every kennel club
has standards drawn up for the breeds that they recognize. A
is a description of its ideal physical appearance. Serious
breeders and exhibitors need to know the standard for their
breed intimately. The AKC publishes all the Standards
for AKC recognized breeds in its The Complete Dog Book.
Finding out where shows are and entering
The Events Calendar (see Publications below)
is the definitive listing of upcoming AKC events put out by
Most show superintendents are happy to put you on their
mailing lists and send you premiums of upcoming shows.
Dog World Magazine also lists both AKC and SKC events. Subscription
Information - P.O. Box 6500, Chicago, IL 60680.
Breed specific shows (specialties) are also advertised in
breed-specific magazines; if the breed club is affiliated with the
AKC, it will be listed in the Gazette.
If you get the AKC Gazette, you'll get a show listing and some entry
forms. You'll also get instruction in the booklet on how to fill out
and send in forms (also where). That's all there is to entering.
Note that obedience trialling has its own FAQ
that discusses the general sport of Obedience in much more detail. Below
is a simple summary of the exercises required in the three obedience
classes offered by the AKC. You should get a copy of the
if you plan to participate in this sport.
There are two classes, Novice A and Novice B, the former for
people who have not put a Companion Dog (CD) on a dog before, the
latter for people who have. To get a CD, a dog must qualify in three
different Novice shows under three different judges; qualification is
at least 170 out of 200 points and at least half the points on every
Open A and Open B are for dogs that have obtained their CD's.
Open A is for dogs that do not have a CDX, and handlers that have not
earned an OTCH on a dog. Otherwise, they're in Open B. Open B is an
OTCH competition class; dogs with CDX's, UD's, or OTCH's may compete.
Similar to Novice, three qualifying scores (at least 170/200) under
three different judges gets the Companion Dog Excellent (CDX).
Utility A and B are for dogs that have obtained their CDX's.
Utility A is for dogs that have not obtained a UD, and handlers that
have not earned an OTCH on a dog. Otherwise, they're in Utility B.
Utility B is the other OTCH competition class; dogs with UD's or
OTCH's appear there. Similar to Novice, three qualifying scores under
three different judges gets the Utility Dog title (UD).
Note that Novice, Open, and Utility are not competitive in the sense
that any of the entered dogs may earn legs. However, it is
competitive in the sense that the top three or four scores will get
Obedience Trial Champion. A competitive title earned after the
UD. Championship points are awarded to those dogs earning a First or
Second place ribbon in the Open B or Utility/Utility B class according
to the schedule established by the AKC. For the OTCH, the dog must
have 100 points, have won First place in Utility/Utility B with at
least three other dogs in competition, have won First in Open B with
at least six dogs in competition, another First place in Open
B/Utility/Utility B under the same conditions. Each of the first
places must be won from different judges. Neither of the first places
may be earned at a specialty obedience trial.
- Heeling on leash; this involves starts and stops, left and right
turns, and fast and slow walking. The dog is supposed to stay
with you at all times (head or shoulder next to your leg). Figure
8 on leash; there are two stops, dog has to stay with you with no
forging (going ahead) or lagging (falling behind). 40 points.
- Off-leash Stand for examination: your dog has to stand still while
the judge examines the head, neck and back, approximately. You
are standing at least 6 ft away. 30 points.
- Repeat of first heeling exercise (not figure 8 part) but without
leash. 40 points.
- Recall and finish: Dog sits about 30 ft. away. You call dog and
it comes briskly to you and sits. On command it then goes around
into a heel pattern sit. 30 points.
- Group exercise. About 10-12 dogs together go in and line up on
one end. Handlers sit their dogs and go to the opposite side.
This is the long sit, lasting for 1 minute. Then handlers down
their dogs and do the same for 3 minutes. Long sit is 30 points,
long down is 30 points.
- Heel Free and Figure Eight. Like Novice, except no lead. 40
- Drop on Recall. Like Novice recall, except you signal or
command your dog to down when the judge tells you to.
The dog must stay in the down until you tell it to come
again. 30 points.
- Retrieve on Flat. You tell the dog to stay, and throw your
dumbbell at least 20 feet away. You then send your dog; it
must go directly to the dumbbell, bring it back, and sit
in front of you to deliver it. You take the dumbbell and
then do a finish. 20 points.
- Retrieve over High Jump. Like the Retrieve on Flat, except
the dog has to jump the high jump on the way out and on
the way back. 30 points.
- Broad Jump. You put your dog in a stay at least eight feet
behind the jump. You then walk to the side of the jump,
face the jump, and send your dog over it. While it's in the
air, you turn 90 degrees so your dog can come to a sit in
front of you. Then you do a finish. 20 points.
- Group exercise. Same as Novice, except handlers are out of
sight for the stays, and the sit and down stay are three
minutes and five minutes long, respectively. 30 points each.
- Signal Exercise. You do an off-lead heeling pattern, with signals
only (no voice). In addition, on the judges command, you signal
your dog to stand and stay, and then from across the ring you
signal your dog to down, sit, come, and then finish. 40 points.
- Scent Discrimination. You have two sets of five identical
articles, one set of leather and one of metal. You out pick one of
each; the rest are set out in a group, at random, about six inches
from each other. You and your dog turn your backs on the pile,
and you scent one of the articles and give it to the judge, who
puts it out with the rest. You turn and send your dog to the pile,
who has to pick out the one you scented and retrieve it as in the
Retrieve on Flat. You then repeat the exercise with the other
article. 30 points.
- Directed Retrieve. You have three (mostly) white cotton work
gloves. You stand with your back turned to a side of the ring
that is clear of equipment, with your dog in heel position. The
gloves are placed one in each corner and one in the center along
that side of the ring. The gloves are numbered one, two, three
from left to right as you face them. The judge tells you which
glove to get, and you and your dog pivot in place to (hopefully)
face that glove. You then give a verbal command and signal to your
dog to retrieve the glove, as in Retrieve on Flat. 30 points.
- Moving Stand and Examination. You heel your dog about ten feet,
and then command the dog to stand-stay without stopping. You
continue about ten feet and then turn to face your dog. The judge
examines the dog with his hands as in breed judging (note this is
more thorough than Novice) except he does not examine the dog's
teeth or testicles. You then call your dog directly to heel
position. 30 points.
- Directed jumping. There are two jumps midway across the ring,
about 20 feet apart. One is a high jump, as in Open, and one is a
bar jump. You are about 20 feet away from the jumps, on the
center line of the ring. You send your dog down the center line of
the ring (between the jumps). When the dog is about 20 feet past
the jumps, you tell it to sit. Then you command and/or signal the
dog to take one of the jumps (the judge tells you which). The dog
must jump the jump, come to you, and sit in front. (While it is in
midair you turn towards it.) Then you do a finish. You then
repeat the exercise with the other jump. 40 points.
Other obedience trials
There are brace classes, for a pair of dogs, that perform exercises
out of novice. There are also veteran classes, for dogs at least
eight years old with an obedience title, doing exercises out of
novice. A versatility class, that takes two exercises each from the
novice, open, and utility trials, also exists. Finally, there is a
team class, a pair of people, each with a pair of dogs, using exercises
There are often fun matches which are set up just like the regular
trials, but they don't count the score towards the title, and you may
correct in the ring. Many people use matches as a way to acclimatize
their dog to the ring. There are also some non-scoring categories
like Pre-Novice, again to help dogs acclimatize to the atmosphere.
The AKC just approved and implemented AKC Agility tests effective
August 1, 1995. There are four titles obtainable: Novice Agility
(NA), Open Agility (OA), Agility Excellent (AX), and
Master Agility Excellent (MX).
Dogs must be AKC registered and 12 months or older to compete.
The heights of the jumps is dependent on the dog's height at
the withers, and there are four jump height divisions: 10 inches and
under, 14 inches and under, 20 inches and under and over 20 inches.
Dogs jump 2 inches under their height division except for dogs
over 20 inches, who all jump at 24 inches.
There are specific requirments for the following obstacle and
jumps that may appear in Agility classes: A-frame, Dog-Walk, Seesaw,
Pause Table, Open Tunnel, Closed Tunnel, Weave Poles, Crawl Tunnel,
Sway Bridge, Circle/Tire Jump, Window Jump, Broad Jump,
Double Oxer Jump, Triple Bar Jump.
To earn an Agility title, the dog must earn three qualifying scores
awarded by at least two different judges.
The Master Agility Excellent is acheived through
ten qualifying scores in the Agility Excellent class.
A qualifying score is at least 85 out of a maximum of 100 points.
Points are deducted for slow course time, refusing obstacles,
improperly negotiating obstacles. Dogs that take more than
double the time alloted to run the course, or that knock obstacles
or jumps down, run the course out of order, foul the ring, leave the ring, etc.,
are eliminated from the competition at that show for that day.
This class is divided into A and B classes, the former for
handlers and dogs that have never acquired an Agility
title, and the latter for dogs that have
a Novice Agility title or whose handler has put Agility
titles on other dogs.
The Novice course can include 12 to 13 of the following elements:
A-Frame, Pause Table, Dog Walk, Open Tunnel, Seesaw, Closed Tunnel,
Circle/Tire/Window Jump, Broad Jump, High Jump, Double Oxer Jump,
two additional jumps, excluding triple and single bar jumps.
This class is open to dogs that have earned the NA or OA title, but
not the AX or MX titles.
The Open course can include 15 to 17 of the following elements:
12 Novice obstacles are mandatory; plus the Weave Poles, Crawl Tunnel,
and any jump except the triple and single bar jumps.
The agility Excellent class is open to dogs that have earned the OA or
The Excellent course can include 18 to 20 of the following elements:
All of the Open class obstacles plus the triple bar, single bar and
one additional jump to meet the minimum. The Sway Bridge is optional.
Field Trials have been around as long as conformation trials.
Conformation and Field Trials were originally used to evaluate
both the conformation and performance of breeding stock. However,
the competition in each has specialized and intensified to the extent
that since about the '50s, there have been very few dual champions
compared with prior to that time, and almost none in the Retriever
Field trials. This happened to the Kennel Club of Great Britain as well,
so the problem is not necessarily due to the AKC itself.
The dog must win a National Championship stake or a total of 10 points.
The points must be won in one of three stakes: Open All-Age, Limited
All-Age, or Special All-Age stake. There must be at least 12 starters.
Dogs get 5 points for first place, 3 points for second place, 1 point
for third place, and .5 point for fourth place. At least five of the
points must come from a trial open to all retrievers (not a specialty
trial) and the dog has to win at least one first place.
To win a retriever Amateur Field Championship: The dog must win a
National Championship stake handled by an amateur, win a National
Amateur Championship stake, or a total of 10 points in Open All-Age,
Limited All-Age, or Special All-Age Stakes (amateur handled). Or they
can win 15 points in any All-Age stake (amateur handled). Again, dogs
get 5 points for first place, 3 points for second place, 1 point for
third place, and .5 point for fourth place. Again, at least five of
the points must come from a trial open to all retrievers (not a
specialty trial) and the dog has to win a first place.
The difference between field trials and hunting tests is that while field
trials compete dogs against one another in their marking, finding, and
retrieving ability, dogs in the hunting tests are measured against a
standard of performance. Potentially all dogs in a hunting test may
successfully complete a leg toward their title. The North American
Hunting Retriever Association (NAHRA) was formed and it put
together hunting tests in response to sentiment that field trials had
become specialized to the point where not only did the tests no longer
resemble actual hunting situations, but only an elite few could really
do well in it. People wanted a means of simply evaluating the overall
hunting ability of their dogs. As it turned out, there were a
series of hunting tests that were created in the mid 1980's:
after NAHRA was created, both the AKC and the UKC responded with
with their own hunting tests. The details differ for all three programs,
of course, but the overall goal of replicating actual hunting situations
is the same.
In the AKC, there are separate hunting tests for retrieving breeds,
pointing breeds, and spaniels. Note that many breed clubs have "working
certificates" available for their dogs: although these are not official AKC
titles, they are often a great way to get started.
My thanks to Charlie Sorsby for the information in this section.
From the AKC pamphlet:
"The purpose of the AKC Hunting Tests is comparison of bird dogs
against a standard, not competition against each other. A dog must be
AKC registered in order to receive any AKC Hunting Test title. In the
following, "Hunting Test" means an AKC licensed or member club hunting
test. In order to be awarded the Junior Hunter title, a dog must have
received Qualifying scores in four (4) Junior Hunting Tests. To be
recorded as a Senior Hunter, a dog must either qualify in five (5)
Senior Hunting Tests or must have earned a Junior Hunter title and
qualify in four (4) Senior Hunting Tests. To be recorded as a Master
Hunter, a dog must either qualify in six (6) Master Hunting Tests or
must have earned a Junior Hunter title and qualify in five (5) Master
Hunting Tests. Dogs that have received a Qualifying score in a
Hunting Test at any level are ineligible to enter any Hunting Test at
a lower level."
Dogs taking the Junior Hunting Test must demonstrate a keen desire to
hunt, show ability to find and point birds, be trainable. They cannot
be gun-shy. They may be restrained to prevent interference with
Dogs taking the Senior Hunting Test must do the same things demanded
of a junior hunting dog, but with definite improvement. They must
also hold their point until the bird has been shot or they are
released. They must retrieve a shot bird but need not deliver to
hand. They must initially honor another dog's point.
And those dogs taking the Master Hunting Test must do the same things
as Senior hunter, but show more experience. In addition must also
show intensity and staunchness of the point, without breaking. Must
deliver to hand. They must demonstrate absolute honoring throughout
the entire flush, shot and retrieve.
The Junior Hunter test requires two single marks on land and two
single marks on water. This means a bird ("single") is thrown and shot while
the dog is watching ("marking"). The dog will promptly retrieve the bird upon
command from handler. Two of these birds are thrown on land, and the other
two are thrown into water. The distance the dog covers to get the bird
should never be more than 100 yards. The dog has to deliver the bird to
hand, meaning that he cannot drop the bird, and the handler must take it
from his mouth. The team is penalized if the dog mouths or injures the bird,
or does not want to give the bird up to the handler, etc. The handler may
hold the dog steady as it marks the single.
The Senior Hunter test requires:
A double mark is when one bird is thrown and then a second bird also
thrown before the dog is sent to get a bird. Typically, the dog is sent
first to get the second bird (the "select"), and then is sent to get the
first bird (the "memory"). The dog is not supposed to try to pick both
birds up at once nor should it "switch" (pick one bird up and then drop
it for the other). Sometimes the dog may go for the memory bird first
and then the select; this is penalized somewhat here, and more heavily
in the Master test. At this point, the dog is supposed to be "steady" and
not go racing off for the bird until told to do so by the handler.
In a walkup, the bird is thrown while the handler
and dog are walking. The dog is not supposed to bolt off to go get it.
Honoring is when the dog watches another dog go pick up a bird without
breaking and trying to get it himself. A blind is when the dog does not
see the bird fall and has to take directions from the handler to go out
and find the bird. Typically, the dog has been trained to go out in the
direction indicated by the handler, to turn and sit, facing the handler
upon hearing a single whistle blast, and to take corrections in direction
from then. Two whistles tells the dog to come back in. A diversion is
when another bird is thrown while the dog is in the middle of retrieving
- a double mark on land and a double mark on water
- one walkup
- one honor
- one land blind and one water blind
- one diversion
In the Master Hunter test, one finds:
Multiple marks are three or more birds thrown before the dog is sent
out to retrieve each in sequence. A combination mark is where the dog
goes out on land, to water, to land again before reaching the bird.
A double blind involves two placed birds and the handler directs the
dog out to each of them in turn. Master Hunter tests are usually in
pretty tough conditions -- gut sucking mud, waist high grass, etc.
- Multiple marks on land, multiple marks on water
- One walkup
- At least one combination mark
- One land blind, one water blind
- One double blind
- One honor
- One walkup
- One diversion
Junior Hunter: dog must find, flush, and have an opportunity
to retrieve 2 birds on land. In addition, one bird must be
retrieved from water at a distance of at least 20 yards
with a shot fired. Distances over water should not exceed
those normally encountered in hunting.
Senior Hunter: dog must find, flush, and retrieve 2 birds
to hand on land. In addition the dog must be line steady
at water and retrieve one bird to hand from water at a
distance of at least 25 yards with a shot fired. A
Senior hunting dog must also exhibit ability to 'hunt dead'
on a land blind of at least 15 yards distance.
Master Hunter: Same as senior hunter for land retrieves, water
retrieve is at least 30 yards. Also, required is a blind water
retrieve of at least 30 yards, and the 'hunt dead' on land
Dog must qualify at least 4 times (4 different trials) in order
to earn the title.
The 2 judges score 0-10 on the following categories:
A qualifying score is a minimum average of not less than 5
on each of the categories of abilities listed, with an overall
average score of not less than 7.
- Hunting ability (which includes desire, courage,
perseverance, independence and intelligence).
- Bird Finding Ability (which includes bird sense, response
to wind and scenting conditions, and use of nose).
- Flushing Ability (boldness)
- Trained Ability (which include range, pattern, gun response,
response to commands).
- Retrieving Ability (which includes marking, enthusiasm,
Tracking tests are actually considered an obedience test rather
than a performance test. This is because tracking was originally
part of the Utility exercises. Any AKC registered dog six
months or older and having passed a qualifying test
are eligible to compete. Actual entry into a test is determined
by lottery, where the limit is drawn, plus several alternates.
Because tracking tests are labor intensive (requiring two
judges, several track layers, plenty of land, and a great deal
of work), few clubs put on more than one test a year, and few
tests accomodate more than about ten dogs at a time.
For tracking tests in general, the tracking leash is between 20
and 40 feet in length, and is visibly marked at a point 20 feet
from the dog; the handler is to follow the dog at no less than 20
Guiding (behavior by the handler which influences or determines the
dog's direction) isi prohibited. Handlers may give verbal commands
and encouragement to the dog. However, commands, signals or body
motions to indicate the specific location or track direction is
Motivational items (food, balls, toys, etc) are not to be used or
carried within 75 yards of a track.
Becasue there are so manymore dogs trying for the tracking
titles than there are competitions available, dogs must first pass
a qualifying test. This test is equivalent to a regular
test track, but only one AKC licenced tracking judge is needed
for the evaluation, which can be scheduled at a time convenient
to the handler and the judge. If the dog completes the track,
the handler recieves four letters of certification, which are good for
one year. If the dog fails four tests in that time, or does not
enter any tests in that time, they become invalid, and the dog
TD: Tracking Dog
To enter a TD test, dogs must be at least 6 months old and be
The trail is 440 to 500 yards in
length and may be between 30 minutes to two hours old.
Three to five turns are present, at least 2 of which are 90
degree turns. Each leg of the track is at least 50 yards in length, and the
first turn is more than 30 yards from the second of two starting
flags (which are themselves 30 yards apart).
TDX: Tracking Dog Excellent
The purpose of the TDX test is to "show that the dog unquestionably
that the dog has the ability to discriminate scent and possesses the
stamina, perserverance, and courage to do so under a wide variety of
conditions. ... It [the track] can lead anywhere a person might go."
A TDX test track is 800 to 1000 yards long, and three to five hours
old. It has five to seven turns, and the first turn is open. The start
consists of one flag (you and your dog get to figure out which way it
goes). There are at least two obstacles (roads, streams, fences,
changes in terrain, changes in vegetation, etc.), and there are two
pairs of cross tracks that are approximately 1 1/2 hours fresher than
the primary track. There are also four articles, all of which must be
found -- one at the start, two along the way, and one at the end.
VST: Variable Surface Tracking
The VST Test was introduced in 1995 and is open to any dog that
has earned its TD or TDX title.
The track is between 600 and 800 yards long. There are to
be a minimum of three different surfaces including vegetation
and two non-vegetated areas such as asphalt, concrete, gravel,
hard pan, mulch, or sand. There are no physical obstactles
as there may be in the TDX track.. The scent is between 3 and 6 hours old,
and there weill be between 4 and 8 turns on the track, including
both right and left turns. Tracks may be laid along the sides of
buildings and fences but may not enter closed buildings. Traffic
may cross the traffic (pedestrians, animals, cars) and should be
ignored by the dog and handler. Four articles are to be distributed
along the track and found by the dog.
A dog that collects all three titles can be designated a Tracking
Champion (TCH). Such a championship cannot make up part of
a Dual Champion title, however, since the title is not earned
competitively. But becuase so few dogs earn Tracking titles,
they are highly prized. In addition, dogs with both a UD
and tracking titles are entitled to special combinations of
the titles. For example a UD plus TD becomes a UDT; a UD
plus TDX becomes a UDTX and a VST plus UD is a UDVST. (No combinations
of tracking titles and the UDX title have been announced.)
My thanks to Lily Mummert for the information in this section.
In general, for herding tests:
- Dogs have to be 9 months old to compete in AKC herding events.
- A dog is not required to have an HT before competing in Pre-Trial,
or to have either test title before competing in trial classes.
Testing is recommended, however.
- Not all herding events are listed in the Gazette currently, but an
updated list is sent out with each issue of the Herdsman (the AKC
herding newsletter). The reason the info isn't in the Gazette is
because of its long lead time. The AKC is trying to modify the
publication schedule of the events calendar so they can get
herding event info in there in a more timely fashion.
HT: Herding Tested
PT: Pre-trial Tested
HS: Herding Started
HI: Herding Intermediate
HX: Herding Excellent
HCH: Herding Trial Champion
Test classes: herding and pre-trial. These are pass/fail. If your dog
passes two herding tests under two different judges, it earns the HT
(Herding Tested) title. Similarly, the dog earns the PT (Pre-Trial
Tested) for passing two pre-trial tests under two different judges. For
both classes, you get 10 minutes to negotiate the course.
Herding test elements:
- a sit or down stay at the start,
- controlled movement of the stock between two pylons, located at
opposite ends of the ring. Includes two changes in direction.
- stop and recall at the end
Pre-trial test elements:
Trial classes: herding started, intermediate, and advanced. The
titles associated with each of these levels are HS (Herding Started),
HI (Herding Intermediate), and HX (Herding Excellent). For each of
these titles, the dog must earn three qualifying scores in the
appropriate class under three different judges. There's also the HCH
(Herding Champion), which is a competition title -- the dog must have
an HX, and then earn 15 championship points in the Advanced class.
- a stay at the start
controlled movement of stock, including a change of direction and
passage through four gates
- a stop at some point on the course
- a stop before penning the stock
- penning the stock
There are three courses that may be offered for each class. The
premium list for a trial specifies which course(s) will be offered.
Course A is in an arena. Course B is a modified ISDS course; it's in a
field. Course C is a modified version of what is used in Europe; it
includes negotiating roads and such.
According to my instructors, Course A is the most widely used of the
three, so I'll describe that one. You get 10 minutes on this course,
regardless of class. For herding started, the dog lifts the stock at
the top of the course, and moves them through four obstacles around
the course in a predetermined order. The obstacles are chutes or gates
of various kinds. The dog then pens the stock. For the intermediate
class, there's an outrun, lift, and fetch, with the handler staying at
a handler's post until the dog has passed the post (after the outrun,
lift and fetch). One of the obstacles is a holding pen -- the dog has
to move the stock into the pen and hold them there for about a minute.
Then there's the pen at the end. Advanced has the same elements as
intermediate, except the course is longer, and the handler's movement
is more restricted. The other courses also get vastly complicated as
you go from started to advanced.
From information supplied by Bonnie Dalzell, Marcia Cavan, Carol Mount, and
edited down to AKC-only by CTM in Sept. 1995.
Note that there is a more comprehensive Lurecoursing FAQ
written by Bonnie Dalzell.
A "lure" coursing course consists of a line strung through a series of
wooden pulley set within a large field (many acres) with a "lure"
(usually a white kitchen garbage bag!) attached at some point on the
line. This line is also strung through a wheel that is attached to a
power source usually a car starter motor as the lure needs to have
enough power to be kept safely ahead of the fastest of the hounds.
The hounds run within their own breed up to 3 per "heat" with each
hound running and being scored on 2 heats. Each hound wears a blanket
(similar to at the Greyhound track) of either yellow, pink or blue
with the scoring being assigned to the blanket color and the
performance it gave. The dogs are scored on the categories of speed,
agility, endurance, follow and enthusiasm.
Up until 1992 only the American Sighthound Field Association (ASFA)
held lure coursing field trials and awarded dogs titles.
In 1992 the AKC accepted Lure Coursing as a sport
introducing Lurecouring Tests, at which the Junior Courser (JC)
and Senior Courser (SC) titles may be earned and Lurecoursing
Trials, at which a dog may earn it's Field Championship.
Dogs that achieve both conformation and field titles are noted
as a Dual Champion (DCH)
Regular stakes are Open and Specials. Open is open to all hounds who have
earned an AKC Junior Courser or other qualifying performance titles.
A dog with a Junior Courser title must have run alone in two separate
courses under two different judges on a course at least 600 yards with
a minimum of four turns, with enthusiasm and no interruption.
A senior courser must be eligible to enter the Open stake, must
run with at least one other hound, and must receive qualifying
scores at two trials under two different judges.
For a dog to earn its Lurecouring Field Championship, it must
obtain fifteen championship points, including two first placements
with three points or more, under two different judges.
Points are earned in the Open stake and depend on how many of
the same breed also ran.
The AKC approved Earth Dog Trials ("Go-To-Ground") for
Terrier breeds effective October 1, 1994.
AKC registered Terriers (including Dachshunds)
six months of age or older are eligible
o participate in earth dog tests. This includes spayed or neutered
dogs, dogs on limited registration, or ILP dogs of eligible breeds.
Bitches in season may not participate.
Titles awarded in the Earthdog classes include Junior
Earthdog (JE), Senior Earthdog (SE), and Master Earthdog (ME).
A preliminary Introduction test is available. No titles are earned,
and it is not required of advanced tests. This test is designed for young
and/or inexperienced dogs and is intended to introduce the dog
to the sport as well as help evaluate the dog's enthusiasm for the work.
All quarry is protected from the dogs by being enclosed in cages.
Artificial quarries may also be used.
Junior Earthdog Class
This class is open to all eligible dogs. To earn the Junior
Earthdog title, the dog must qualify at two separate trials under
two different judges.
The Junior Earthdog course layout is a 9x9inch 30 foot long
tunnel with three 90 degree turns. The entry is at one end, and
the quarry area at the other end. There are no dead ends in the tunnel.
Qualifying performance: Dogs are graded on approach to the quarry
and working the quarry. At this level, the dog must reach the quarry
within 30 seconds of starting. Once the quarry is found, the dog
must bark, growl, dig or otherwise indicate interest in the quary
for at least 60 seconds.
Senior Earthdog Class
Open only to dogs that have earned the Junior Earthdog title.
Three qualifying scores under at least two different judges are
required for the Senior Earthdog title.
The Senior earthdog course layout is more complex, more closely
resembling an actual den in the wild. The tunnel in this
class is again 9x9 inches, and approximately thirty freet from
entry to exit. However, in addition to three 90 turns on the main
tunnel, there is a false exit and a false den, neither of which
are visible from the main den entry.
Qualifying performance: Dogs are graded on approach to
quarry, working the quary, and leaving the den on command.
The dog has 90 seconds to find the quarry. Then it must work
the quarry for 90 seconds. Finally, the handler must be able
to call the dog back to the original entry.
Master Earthdog Class
Open only to dogs that have earned the Senior Earthdog title.
To earn the Master Earthdog title, dogs must qualify four
different times under at least two different judges. Dogs
with the Msater Earthdog title may no longer enter Junior
or Senior Earthdog classes.
The Master Earthdog course layout is a modified form of the
Junior/Senior course modified as follows: The entry is not
readily visible, and is marked with a scent line. A false
entry, with no scent, is visible. The tunnel contains
a constriction point where it is 6 inches wide rather than 9 inches.
An obstruction consisting of a 6 inch diameter pipe that can moved
2.5 inches either way is included. In adidtion, dogs are worked
in pairs, selected at random.
Qualifying performance: Dogs are released on the scent line
approximately 100 feet from the real entrance. The dogs must
reach the entry in about 60 seconds. Once the entrance is found,
one of the dogs must honor the other (and then switch places when
the first dog has worked the den). The working dog has 90 seconds to
find the quarry and must work it for 90 seconds. The Judge may tap on
the roof of the tunnel when it is working as a distraction. The
honoring dog must remain quiet, but may be staked during the honor.
The AKC sponsors this test.
The CGC is not a title, but a certificate. However, many people add the
initials CGC after the dog's name anyway. Note that ALL dogs, not
just AKC registered ones, are eligible to take this test!
From the AKC pamphlet
"The purpose of the Canine Good Citizen Test is to demonstrate
that the dog , as a companion of man, can be a respected member of the
community, and can be trained and conditioned always to behave in the
home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs, in a manner
that will reflect credit on the dog. The Canine Good Citizen Test is
not a competitive program, but rather a program of certification; it
seeks to identify and recognize officially those dogs that possess the
attributes that enable them to serve effectively as personal
companions and as members in good standing with the community."
The tests include:
- Accepting a Friendly Stranger
- Sitting Politely for Petting
- Appearance and Grooming
- Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Lead)
- Walking Through a Crowd
- Sit and Down on Command/Staying in Place
- Reaction to Another Dog
- Reaction to Distractions
- Supervised Isolation
- AKC plans to expand and promote the test more.
- They do have colors for qualifying ribbons: turquoise
and gold (but I have never seen these awarded: it's pretty
much up to the club giving the test what they give out)
- AKC is thinking about dog tags and/or wallet cards for qualifying.
- AKC is going to advocate that dogs that have proven to be under
control be allowed on leash in parks that don't allow dogs.
- They are going to ask clubs to lobby their states to have the
test recognized as a sign of a responsible owner.
Certain titles go before the dog's registered name, others go after.
Championship titles go before the name; non-championship titles go
after the name.
There are also orderings within the champion and non-champion titles.
If a dog also has a Amateur Field Championship that title is placed in
front of its name, in addition to the other titles (e.g., CH), but
behind them if they exist.
At an AKC event, a dog may be listed only with its AKC-recognized
titles. Therefore, it may not have all of its titles listed in the
catalog for the show. Outside of AKC sponsorship, all of the titles
that a dog has earned may be listed.
As a matter of interest, there has been only one triple CH in
AKC history. Thi is a male Viszla by the name of Cariad's Kutya Kai
Costa, who earned a Ch, FCh, and an OTCh for his Triple.
Each breed recognized by the AKC has a parent club, which is
considered to be the national breed club for that breed. These clubs'
main responsibility is maintaining the Standard for their breed, and
representing the interests of their breed at AKC meetings by assigning
attending delegates. These clubs often also sponsor a national
speciaty once a year. If the breed is a working or sporting one,
often a national performance event is also sponsored. Different breed
clubs operate differently: some coordinate national breed rescue
programs, and others do not. Many have educational brochures and
Public Education Coordinators to answer the public's questions about
the breed. Some clubs are quite open to membership; for example the
Golden Retriever Club of America has over 1500 members. On the other
hand, the Labrador Retriever Club has less than 700 members (and twice
the recorded registrations of Labradors to Goldens!). Membership
applications generally require some background in the breed (it could
be ownership, showing, or breeding) and the sponsorship of one or two
members of the club. In general, you can write to the Corresponding
Secretary of the national breed club you are interested in for the
exact requirements of membership.
There are also many regional breed clubs. These clubs put on
regional specialties, promote their breed, coordinate educational
efforts in their region and often have a breed rescue program. Many
people start out with membership in these programs before gaining
membership in the national club, although you should remember that for
many people the regional clubs are all they need. Become involved
with your regional club and learn more about your breed! It's also a
good way to keep track of events in your area that you would like to
attend. Many national and regional clubs put out newsletters for
Regional Kennel Clubs
In addition to the breed clubs, there are also regional kennel clubs
affiliated with the AKC. The AKC licenses member clubs to put on all
breed shows. Depending on their size, most clubs put out one to two
shows per year, as well as holding one to several sanctioned matches
(practice shows) per year. Local kennel clubs are a good way to
network with other dog fanciers and to learn more about breeds besides
Some clubs are licensed to put on just obedience shows. These clubs
often have training classes, regular obedience matches, and other benefits
All member clubs are listed in the back of AKC's Gazette.
The AKC's address is 51 Madison, New York, New York, 10010.
Online, the AKC may be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. They also have an extensive web page at http://www.akc.org/.
Following is a list of telephone numbers,
taken from the Gazette, January 1994 issue, page 39: My comments in
brackets. These are all the AKC telephone numbers available.
- AKC Dog laws 24 hour hotline is designed to take calls from individuals
and clubs on local dog legislation. Callers should leave their names
and numbers. Those with questions will get a call back between 8:30 a.m.
and 4:15 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. [The AKC is especially
interested in hearing of anti-dog legislation. This phone number is
ONLY for dog legislation matters.]
- (919)233-9767 Registration Information
- Hours--8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. This office is
responsible for handling all calls involving any type of
registration (including Foreign Registration) question or problem.
When you want any AKC registration forms or answers to registration
questions this is the office to call. If you are calling about a
registration application, keep in mind that the normal processing
time is approximately two to three weeks. If you want to check the
status of an application you submitted, you must be able to provide
the customer service representative with the breeding information on
your dog or litter. [All written correspondence should be directed
to American Kennel Club, 5580 Centerview Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606.]
- (212)696-8208 Investigations and Inspections
- The work of this department involves inspections of recordkeeping
and identification practices and investigations into registration
- (212)696-8208 Event Records
- This is the department that processes and records the official
results of all licensed Shows, Obedience, Field Trials, Hunting
Tests and Herding Events and issues Certificates of Championship,
Obedience, Hunting and Herding Titles. Title certificates are
mailed approximately 4 to 6 weeks after the event at which the dog
has finished the requirements for the title. If you are inquiring
about a title certificate please have the breed, name and number of
your dog available, as well as the complete name of the club and the
date of the event at which your dog completed the requirements for
- (212)696-8262 Judging Information
- If you would like the details about a dog show or obedience trial
judge's application, this is the number to call.
- (212)696-8232 Event Plans
- Everything having to do with the processing of paperwork for
sanctioned and licensed Shows. Obedience and Field Trials and
- (212)696-8276 Obedience, Tracking, Herding and Lure Coursing Department
- Call this number if you have questions about obedience, tracking,
herding or lure coursing regulations and judging requirements. This
area also handles lure coursing event schedules and results.
- (212)696-8286, -8306, -8360 AKC/ACHA Coonhound Department
- This is the department that processes registrations, pedigrees, hunt
and bench show dates, new clubs, bench show and hunt results and
championship titles for all Coonhounds.
- (212)696-8225 By-Laws Inquiries
- If your club is approved to hold licensed or member dog shows,
obedience trials or field trials, and you have a question about your
club's constitution or by-laws call this number.
- (212)696-8207 New Clubs
- Are you forming a dog club or in the process of becoming fully
acredited by AKC? This is the number to call.
- (212)696-8231 Communications
- For public relations information, or other ways we can help your
club with information or educational services, call this number.
- (212)696-8333 Gazette, Editorial
- This is the number to call for everything haveing to do with AKC's
monthly magazine, Pure-Bred Dogs/American Kennel Gazette, EXCEPT
subscription and advertising. (See following.)
- (212)696-8260 Advertising
- For information and rates to advertise in the GAZETTE, EVENTS
CALENDAR, or AKC AWARDS, call this number.
- (919)233-9780 Subscriptions
- Have a question about your subscription? Want to place an order for
an AKC magazine? This is the number to call. Magazines:
Pure-Bred Dogs/American Kennel Gazette
American Kennel Club Awards
American Kennel Club Stud Book Register
- (919)233-9780 Audio/Visual Programs
- This is the number to call to order any of AKC's AV programs. All
programs are available in VHS format.
- (212)696-8245 Library
- Contact AKC's library for specialized research and bibliographic
questions. Visiting hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily except
Saturday, Sunday and holidays.
- (212)696-8200 Main Switchboard
- Use this number if you are uncertain what department or who to call
for non-registration related matters.
The Complete Dog Book, 18th Edition. Howell Book House,
AKC Gazette is a monthly magazine put out by the AKC.
It includes an
Calendar that lists dates, places, superintendants, judges, etc. for
all the AKC events (including Regional and National Specialties),
including obedience, lurecoursing, field trials, and herding trials.
Each issue covers the
next three months for the US.
AKC Coursing News
Larry Flynn, editor
R.D. 1 Box 1733
Stewartstown, PA 17363
American Kennel Club FAQ