Retriever Trials – Field Trials and Hunt Trials



Hunt Tests — CKC (JH, SH and MH)

Open to all Retriever breeds, Irish Water Spaniels and Standard Poodles. The objective of a Hunt Test for Retrievers is to test and evaluate the dog’s ability to work with the handler and retrieve game birds in conditions that simulate a true hunting situation.

The titles of JH (Junior Hunter – entry level), SH (Senior Hunter – intermediate level), and MH (Master Hunter – finished level) are granted by the Canadian Kennel Club and can be placed following the dog’s name.

These tests are designed as a higher level of testing than the Working Certificate tests and the dog must obtain a passing score at three events in order to earn a title.

Junior Hunter — The Junior Hunter is for those with younger dogs or dogs who have recently been trained in hunting. The test involves two back to back single thrown birds in the water and on land. The dog is judged mainly on his natural ability and trainability. In order to receive the CKC JH title, the dog must qualify in three CKC Junior Hunt Tests. Each test simulates realistic but relatively simple hunting conditions.

Senior Hunter — In this level, the dog should have a solid marking ability and be able to “count.” The dog is judged on his ability to remember where two birds landed as well as his ability to “handle.” Handling refers to the handler’s ability to control the dog in a situation where a bird has fallen and the dog does not know where. In Senior Hunt tests, the dog experiences what it is like to hunt with a partner who may shoot a bird in an area where he is unable to retrieve the bird on his own. The CKC SH title is earned once the dog has qualified in five CKC SH tests. If a dog has already earned his JH title, then he must qualify in four CKC SH tests to earn the SH title.

Master Hunter — This level is for the dog who is an all around hunting companion. The dog must be able to retrieve multiple marks, be diverted and handle with confidence. The CKC MH title is earned after the dog qualifies with six Master Hunt tests. If the dog has previously earned his SH title, then five Master Hunt tests are required.

CKC Working Certificates (WC, WCI, WCX)

The primary objective of the Working Certificate tests is to encourage the development and use of the natural abilities for which Retrievers were orginally bred, measuring the dog’s natural abilities, memory and intelligence. The tests are non-competitive and those dogs that pass are recorded as having basic work ability. These tests also provide a means to help determine future breeding stock and to encourage Retriever handlers/owners to further develop their dog’s abilities.

Once the titles WC (Working Certificate), WCI (Working Certificate Intermediate), and WCX (Working Certificate Excellent) are earned they can be shown after the dog’s name. The tests are taken in order and the dog only has to pass once for each level.

In Canada, the tests are conducted under the CKC guidelines. In the U.S. however, the tests vary between breeds and locations.

Field Trials for Retrievers

Field Trials are open to all Retriever breeds, Irish Water Spaniels and Standard Poodles. At the senior level, dogs compete for points toward a Field Trial Championship (FTCh.) title and an Amateur Field Trial Championship (AFTCh.). Dogs must mark the fall of a game bird and retrieve it on command, either from land or water. (Amateur standing is determined by the status of the handler.)

Differences Between Hunt Tests and Field Trials

The most significant difference is that Field Trials are competitive, i.e., dogs are chosen and place in first, second, etc., whereas Hunt Tests are non-competitive — the dog’s training and ability are compared to a standard that defines the qualities that should be demonstrated by Retrievers at various levels of experience.

Because Field Trials are competitive, they tend to have retrieves that are more difficult and require a higher degree of precision in retrieving a mark or running a blind.

In Hunt Tests, dogs qualify according to whether they meet a standard established for various levels. Thus, in any given test, any number of dogs entered may qualify.

Retriever Titles

These titles can be earned thorough the CKC, AKC, UKC and NAHRA:

JH (Junior Hunter) — CKC and AKC title.

SH (Senior Hunter) — CKC and AKC title earned by receiving 5 passes at the Senior level in a licensed Hunt Test.

MH (Master Hunter) — CKC and AKC title earned by receiving 6 passes at the Master level in a licensed Hunt Test.

The UKC offers a stake but no titles for beginning (Junior/Started) level dogs.

HR (Hunting Retriever) — A UKC title that is earned by aquiring 40 points. 30 of those points must be at the Seasoned or Finished level.

HRCH (Hunting Retriever Champion) — A UKC title that is earned by acquiring 100 points, 60 of which must be earned at the Finished level.

GHRCH (Grand Hunting Retriever Champion) — A UKC title that is earned by aquiring 220 points at the Finished level and 80 points from the HRC Grand Hunt. This is the highest possible hunt test title offered in the UKC.

UH (Upland Hunter) — A UKC title that is available for those that train their dogs for upland bird hunting.

SR (Started Retriever) — The entry level NAHRA title. This title is earned by acquiring 10 points.

WR (Working Retriever) — NAHRA title earned by aquiring 20 points in the Intermediate level.

MHR (Master Hunting Retriever) — NAHRA title earned by aquiring 100 points, 80 of which must be earned at the Senior level.

GMHR (Grand Master Hunting Retriever) — NAHRA title earned by aquiring 300 points at the Senior level. This is the highest possible title offered by NAHRA.

The following titles can only be earned by winning through competition:

NFC (National Field Champion) — Awarded once yearly to the dog that wins the National Open. It is the most coveted of all Retriever field titles.

NAFC (National Amateur Field Champion) — Awarded once yearly to the dog that wins the National Amateur. This competition is much like the National Open except that all handlers are amateurs.

FC (Field Champion) — Awarded to dogs that have won an Open at a licensed field trial and have acquired five additional Open points.

AFC (Amateur Field Champion) — Earned same as the Field Champion but handled by an amateur or by winning an amateur stake at a field trial and acquiring ten additional amateur points.

FTCh. (Field Trial Champion) — CKC’s title for Field Champion.

AFTCh. (Amateur Field Trial Champion) — CKC’s title for Amateur Field Champion.

DC (Dual Champion) — Awarded to dogs that have both a Field Champion and have earned its’ bench Champion title.

Links to Trial Rules


Resources, Additional Information, Articles of Interest, and Club Listings


Books & DVDs

Retrieving for All Occasions: Foundations for Excellence In Gun Dog Training

Positive Gun Dogs - Clicker Training for Sporting Breeds

Training and Care Of The Versatile Hunting Dog

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