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AKC Considers Adding Breeds to Hunt Test Program

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August 05, 2011

AKC Considers Adding Breeds to Hunt Test Program

By Chad Love

Last year I wrote a Field Notes blog about the first standard poodle in the nation to earn a spot at the Master National Retriever Club trial. Now qualifying for the Master National is an impressive achievement, to be sure, but the hook to that story was, of course, the breed of dog. Currently there are 11 breeds of dog eligible to take part in the American Kennel Club retriever hunt test program. Those dogs are: American Water Spaniels, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Curly-Coated Retrievers, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Irish Water Spaniels, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, Spinone Italiano, Standard Poodles and Wirehaired Pointing Griffons.

But the overwhelming majority of the dogs taking part in hunt tests are from the big three retriever breeds: labs, goldens and chessies (and probably in that order). And of the three, labs - by dint of sheer numbers - tend to dominate the ranks. It's not unheard of but definitely uncommon to see minority or continental breeds at a retriever hunt test.

However, it appears that AKC's governing board will shortly be considering the addition of several new breeds to the eligibility list for hunt tests. German Shorthaired Pointers, German Wirehaired Pointers, Vizslas, and Weimaraners might soon be able to enter AKC retriever hunt tests and show the black, golden and brown dogs what they can do.
 
It's caused a fair bit of discussion over on the RTF forums, which is probably the web's biggest forum dedicated to hunt test and field trial retrievers. Some people are for it and others are aghast. Personally, I'm all for it. The more the merrier, and in my opinion anything that increases opportunity and participation in the hunting-based dog games is a good thing.

The only thing is, while I've seen some fantastic retrieving shorthairs, I've never personally seen one (or any other versatile dog, for that matter) that's been trained to run blinds and handle in the manner necessary to compete at the Senior and Master Hunter level. I'm not saying it's not possible, I'm just saying I've never seen it. I would, however, love to.
 
So, provided the AKC does vote to allow some versatile and pointing breeds to compete in AKC hunt tests, are there any shorthair, vizsla or wirehair owners out there who'd be interested in doing it? You have to admit, it would be a point of pride for you versatile/NAVHDA guys to be able to hang with the retrievers at their own game, no?

 

Comments (12)

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from Michael Jager wrote 2 years 36 weeks ago

My Weimaraner could do it. He constantly shows the other dogs how its done.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 2 years 36 weeks ago

If I did own one of those fantastic breeds (we own Britts) I couldn't afford to travel the needed miles to qualify an AKC retriever. I hope someone with the cash does attempt to break the clique if and when the AKC does vote to allow the versatile breeds in.

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 36 weeks ago

it's a good idea, but i think labs will still dominate.

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from campns wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

my Dogo Argentinio is my super dog, Short hair, points, retrives, swims faster than a chessie, and can run down anything i ask it to. at 100lbs it's not a tiny dog by any means but i can ask him to round up birds, chase hogs, and he has a nose better than my uncles springers, or go after ducks. Then come home and be good with my family and other dogs. What else could you ask for? he's a complete package for all gun sports ... they would never allow his breed.

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from rolesville rocker wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

I'm sure some of the exceptions to a breed would be able to get through a "pass" in the Hunting Test Format but I doubt they'd ever be able to compete with the big three in All-age, non-slip field trial. And why would you want to? If you want a retriever to run 300 yd blinds, get a retriever. If you want a dog to point and hold game, get a pointing breed. And if you have a versatile, play that game. It's a little like Michael Jordan trying to play baseball. You may do it, but not very well. And at what price to the dog? They only live so many years. Train them to do what they're best at and enjoy them.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

Why haven't they opened the door for Boykin's? I'd say admit them before the above pointing dogs. Or what about Brittany or English setter? In my experience these two breeds are much more reliable retrivers and handle water much better.

When I think of retrievers I automatically think of cold days on a slough over decoys in a blind. These kind of conditions could literally kill a GSP, Vizsla or Weimar. Even my little Brittany would be hard pressed and she's got a lot more fur than any of those breeds. Anyway, my greatest concern is that if the AKC follows through with this scheme some nimrods out there actually may expect these thin-coated, cold-blooded pointing dogs to do the kind of cold weather work that they physically are not designed to do. A better plan would be to modify the field trials for upland dogs to include retrieving skills. Or just create a separate field trial competition altogether for dogs that both point, flush, and retrieve. Labs would probably dominate that one too but I'm thinking the Brittany and English setter would give them a run for their money. My experience with the dogs mentioned as potential new additions above is that they are not nearly as consistent at retrieving as either Brittany or English setter.

I think that sooner or later the folks that make these decisions are going to have to take a closer look at the labradoodle. When these are finally recognized as a breed, the labs may have some real competition wherever they compete. My opinion anyway.

If they monkey around and add breeds to the competition that aren't designed for traditional waterfowl retrieving, then they will no doubt soon feel obligated to monkey around with the competition to make it fit the newly added breeds.

And no, I certainly don't have a problem with standard poodles in field trial competition. They were after all a hunting dog first and foremost. And if they are left untrimmed I'm sure their thick coats would serve them well in harsh weather.

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from chadlove wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

Ontario Honker, I'm in complete agreement. I have no idea why Boykins are currently excluded from AKC retriever hunt tests. They're fantastic retrievers and I think they would do very well.

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

i would welcome boykins, also. they are good hunting dogs and deserve to be there. labs would still dominate though. just sayin...

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from M_Rothwell wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

I trained my chocolate lab to hunt sheds and it's a great hobby for both of us! On a sidenote, regarding using a poodle for hunting/retrieving...Good luck with grooming after a day hunting through cockle-burrs and other sticky-nasties!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

Clip the poodles short for upland hunting and leave the hair long for waterfowl. Can't be much worse than combing out an English setter.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rolesville rocker wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

And since I'm feeling like ranting today...gun dog fans across America. Please take up the cause. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GOLDEN LAB...labs come in black, yellow and chocolate. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BLONDE LAB!(but some labs act like blondes, but those are usually chocolates).

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

The arrogance and politics of the AKC has totally turned me off the organization and I couldn't care less what they do. Lots of alternatives out there for purebreds and mutts to show their stuff.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Michael Jager wrote 2 years 36 weeks ago

My Weimaraner could do it. He constantly shows the other dogs how its done.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 36 weeks ago

it's a good idea, but i think labs will still dominate.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from M_Rothwell wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

I trained my chocolate lab to hunt sheds and it's a great hobby for both of us! On a sidenote, regarding using a poodle for hunting/retrieving...Good luck with grooming after a day hunting through cockle-burrs and other sticky-nasties!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 2 years 36 weeks ago

If I did own one of those fantastic breeds (we own Britts) I couldn't afford to travel the needed miles to qualify an AKC retriever. I hope someone with the cash does attempt to break the clique if and when the AKC does vote to allow the versatile breeds in.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from campns wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

my Dogo Argentinio is my super dog, Short hair, points, retrives, swims faster than a chessie, and can run down anything i ask it to. at 100lbs it's not a tiny dog by any means but i can ask him to round up birds, chase hogs, and he has a nose better than my uncles springers, or go after ducks. Then come home and be good with my family and other dogs. What else could you ask for? he's a complete package for all gun sports ... they would never allow his breed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rolesville rocker wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

I'm sure some of the exceptions to a breed would be able to get through a "pass" in the Hunting Test Format but I doubt they'd ever be able to compete with the big three in All-age, non-slip field trial. And why would you want to? If you want a retriever to run 300 yd blinds, get a retriever. If you want a dog to point and hold game, get a pointing breed. And if you have a versatile, play that game. It's a little like Michael Jordan trying to play baseball. You may do it, but not very well. And at what price to the dog? They only live so many years. Train them to do what they're best at and enjoy them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

Why haven't they opened the door for Boykin's? I'd say admit them before the above pointing dogs. Or what about Brittany or English setter? In my experience these two breeds are much more reliable retrivers and handle water much better.

When I think of retrievers I automatically think of cold days on a slough over decoys in a blind. These kind of conditions could literally kill a GSP, Vizsla or Weimar. Even my little Brittany would be hard pressed and she's got a lot more fur than any of those breeds. Anyway, my greatest concern is that if the AKC follows through with this scheme some nimrods out there actually may expect these thin-coated, cold-blooded pointing dogs to do the kind of cold weather work that they physically are not designed to do. A better plan would be to modify the field trials for upland dogs to include retrieving skills. Or just create a separate field trial competition altogether for dogs that both point, flush, and retrieve. Labs would probably dominate that one too but I'm thinking the Brittany and English setter would give them a run for their money. My experience with the dogs mentioned as potential new additions above is that they are not nearly as consistent at retrieving as either Brittany or English setter.

I think that sooner or later the folks that make these decisions are going to have to take a closer look at the labradoodle. When these are finally recognized as a breed, the labs may have some real competition wherever they compete. My opinion anyway.

If they monkey around and add breeds to the competition that aren't designed for traditional waterfowl retrieving, then they will no doubt soon feel obligated to monkey around with the competition to make it fit the newly added breeds.

And no, I certainly don't have a problem with standard poodles in field trial competition. They were after all a hunting dog first and foremost. And if they are left untrimmed I'm sure their thick coats would serve them well in harsh weather.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

Ontario Honker, I'm in complete agreement. I have no idea why Boykins are currently excluded from AKC retriever hunt tests. They're fantastic retrievers and I think they would do very well.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

i would welcome boykins, also. they are good hunting dogs and deserve to be there. labs would still dominate though. just sayin...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

Clip the poodles short for upland hunting and leave the hair long for waterfowl. Can't be much worse than combing out an English setter.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rolesville rocker wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

And since I'm feeling like ranting today...gun dog fans across America. Please take up the cause. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GOLDEN LAB...labs come in black, yellow and chocolate. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BLONDE LAB!(but some labs act like blondes, but those are usually chocolates).

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 2 years 32 weeks ago

The arrogance and politics of the AKC has totally turned me off the organization and I couldn't care less what they do. Lots of alternatives out there for purebreds and mutts to show their stuff.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment