Hunt Tests

Hunt Tests

Gateway Vizsla Club is Proud to Support AKC Hunt Tests

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What is a Hunt Test?

A hunt test is an AKC event for all pointing dog breeds that showcases the dog’s natural hunting abilities in the field.

Two dogs run at a time in a “brace”.  Each dog and handler team work around the designated course while trying to find and point birds.  Quail and chukar are common birds used in AKC hunt tests.  Birds are planted by the host club throughout the course per the AKC standards which regulate how many birds are planted.  Two judges are usually on horseback in order to have a better view of the field and the dogs.  The judges follow the dogs and handlers observing until the time has run out.  Once the course is complete, each judge gives the both dogs a score between 0 and 10 in all the specified categories.  In order to pass the hunt test, the dog must have an average score of 7 or higher and may not have a score less than a 5 in any category.  All hunt tests are pass or fail.

What are the different levels of AKC Hunting Tests?

There are three levels offered at AKC hunt tests progressing in difficulty and criteria.   The levels are: Junior Hunter, Senior Hunter, and Master Hunter.

What is being tested in each level?

Junior Hunter (JH):

  • Hunting
  • Bird-finding ability
  • Pointing
  • Trainability
  • Time: 15 minutes

Junior hunt tests are designed to test the dog’s want and keen desire to hunt along with basic instinct in the field.  The dog must be bold and independent in the field while searching for birds.  That dog must find and establish point on at least 1 bird and must point at least half the birds found.  The handler then fires the blank cartridge to show the judges that the dog is not gun shy.  The ability for the handler and dog to work well together shows trainability.

Senior Hunter (SH)

  • Hunting
  • Bird-finding ability
  • Pointing
  • Trainability
  • Retrieving
  • Honoring
  • Time: 30 minutes

A senior level dog must exhibit all the junior hunter qualities plus more.  A senior level dog must also be steady to wing.  This means the dog cannot break point until the bird has been shot or the handler has released the dog.  AKC designated gunners shoot the birds at this level.  The senior dog must also retrieve the bird.  The retrieve, however, does not have to be to hand.  The last attribute that must be shown in order to earn a qualifying score is honoring.  Honoring, or backing, is when a dog stops and acknowledges it’s bracemate’s point.  Handlers at this level are allowed to encourage their dog to hold steady for an honor.

Master Hunter (MH)

  • Hunting
  • Bird-finding ability
  • Pointing
  • Trainability
  • Retrieving
  • Honoring
  • Time: 30 minutes

A master level dog is described as a “finished hunting companion”.  The master level dog must demonstrate all the junior and senior attributes with little to no guidance from the handler and must look polished doing so.  This level requires that dogs be steady to wing and shot and only move in for the retrieve when released by the handler.  The retrieval of a bird must be gentle and to hand.  The honor must be on the dog’s own merits with no coaching from the handler.  The master dog must also show proper ability to work a field using the wind and terrain to it’s advantage.

How do you earn titles?

Junior Hunter: In order to earn a junior hunting title, a dog must earn a qualifying junior hunting score 4 times.

Senior Hunter: In order to earn a senior hunting title, a dog must earn a qualifying senior hunting score 5 times.  A junior title can count as one pass for the dog.

Master Hunter: In order to earn a master hunting title, a dog must earn a qualifying master hunting score 6 times.  A senior title can count as one pass for the dog.

Hunt Test Must Haves!

Hunt tests do require some special equipment.  Here are the basics:

  1. Orange/Pink Flash Collar
  2. Yellow/Lime Green Flash Collar
  3. Starter’s Pistol/Blank Cartridge Gun
  4. Blaze Orange Clothing (hat, vest, jacket, etc.) for handler safety

Do you have questions? Do you and your Vizsla want to get involved in Hunt Tests?

Many of our members are involved in hunt testing.  Many of them train their Vizslas year round at hunt clubs around the St. Louis area.  If you’re interested in getting involved please use our “Contact Us” form and we’ll get you a list of several people that will help you get started.