AKC Hunt Tests
You’ve played ball with your Retriever about a million times in your backyard or at the park, but do his fetching abilities automatically mean he’d make a good hunting companion? Not necessarily. The only way to really know is to participate in a Retriever Hunting Test.
Ever since the first AKC retriever hunting tests were held in 1985, the focus has been on how well your dog retrieves birds under all types of conditions. You don’t compete against other handlers and dogs; each dog is assessed based on his own merit (as opposed to competing in a Field Trial where a winner is chosen). There are three hunt test levels – Junior, Senior, Master, and titles can be earned at each level. Judges score dogs on their natural ability to mark and remember a fall, on their hunting style, perseverance or courage. They are also scored on learned abilities such as steadiness, control, response and delivery.
This non-competitive environment creates a very warm and communal atmosphere where everyone encourages each other to succeed. Even though you have to remain quiet during the test, you should hear the round of applause afterward! It’s not to be missed.
AKC Hunt Tests certify (3) levels of standards for dogs:
Level 1: Junior/Started. Whether you have a new puppy or an inexperienced dog, the Junior level channels your dog's natural abilities and instincts. Your dog learns to mark falls on land and in water and retrieve the bird to you. By the time your dog earns a Junior title it is ready to gain field experience and train for Senior.
Level 2: Senior/Intermediate. At the Senior level your dog's memory is trained. It learns to mark double falls on land and in water. It learns to respond to hand signals from you in order to pick up birds it might not have seen fall. It learns to be steady in a duck blind or sit and mark to the flush of a pheasant. This is a dog that is ready to take to the field with confidence.
Level 3: Master/Senior. This is a truly finished dog. This dog can easily handle any possible bird hunting situation on land or in water. Not easily achieved but worth striving for.
The Inland Valley Retriever Club sponsors (2) AKC Hunt Tests per year - see below. We highly recommend that you use the Entry Express system to register for any AKC Sanctioned Hunt Test, including those that are sponsored by the IVRC. Please give yourself plenty of time prior to a test to ensure your dog is registered properly with the AKC (only registered AKC dogs can compete in an AKC sanctioned Hunt Test). We also strongly encourage you to watch the entry dates of the tests, especially if you are running at the masters level, as these tests can fill-up in a matter of minutes. The process can be a little daunting at first, but either one of the officers or many of our members can help you navigate the process.