AKC Pointing Dog Hunt Tests

Want to go hunting?  If you have a pointing dog breed such as Pointers, German Shorthaired Pointers, or Brittany Spaniels, and the dog is registered with the American Kennel Club, you can take your dog to a hunting test and earn titles.  These tests are simulated hunts with birds, blank pistols, and dogs.  Dogs can earn a junior hunter, senior hunter, and master hunter title.  Each class is harder and requires more control of the dog, who is off lead and revved up by the birds.  If you can earn a master hunter title, your dog is very well trained indeed.

The American Kennel Club licenses clubs to put on hunting tests.  You can find a club in your area by checking their website.  These events are on weekends and you will find there is a circuit everyone goes on from club to club over the hunt test season.  You will see the same people and dogs each weekend with only the location changing.

Hunt tests are not competitive.  They are pass/fail.  However, there is friendly competition amongst the participants.

The birds at hunting tests are farm raised.  At least two birds must be put out for each brace, or pair of competitors.  You and your dog will run with another owner and his or her dog.  Fighting among dogs is a disqualification, so make sure your dog behaves when with other dogs.

The first title you strive for is that of junior hunter.  These dogs are expected to show a desire to find birds, range out and look at the likely places, and keep moving.  They must intelligently seek birds and they have to find and point at least one.  While the dog does not have to be “steady,” they must hold the point long enough for you to reach them and fire a blank pistol upon flushing the bird.  The dog must find a bird to pass that turn.  Each time you run and pass, you are said to get a “leg”.  The dog must get four legs to obtain a junior hunter title.

For the senior hunter title, the dog must demonstrate much better control.  These dogs are expected to find birds and stay on point until the hunter releases them, even when the bird is flushed and the blank gun is fired.  In addition, it must stop to flush and must honor its bracemate’s point by pointing as well.  At the senior level, some commands may be given, such as telling the dog to stop at a flush or when the other dog is on point.  At the senior level, birds are killed when flushed and the dog is expected to retrieve them.  He does not have to bring them perfectly to hand, but has to be close.  A dog must have five qualifying scores to obtain his senor hunter title.  If the dog already has a junior hunter title, he only has to have four scores.

To obtain a master hunter title, the dog must behave perfectly with minimal direction from the owner.  He must find birds, point, remain on point until released, retrieve shot birds perfectly to hand, and generally be the perfect hunting companion.  In addition, he must be a gentleman and honor his bracemate’s point.  This title is reserved for the best trained hunting companions.  If you can obtain it with your dog, you have accomplished something to be proud of.  A dog must obtain six qualifying scores to get this title.  If they have a senior hunter title, they must obtain five qualifying scores to obtain this title.

By the time you have worked with your dog and trained him to this level, you have a wonderful companion and should have a close bond with your dog.  Even if you only get a junior hunter on your dog, working with your dog in a loving and positive way will increase your bond with your dog.  Go Hunt!