What Are The American Kennel Club Field Trials?

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
A wonderful challenge for hunting dogs, the American Kennel Club Field Trials will test your pooch’s skills out in the field!

The American Kennel Club (AKC) Field Trials were designed to give hunting breeds an opportunity to compete against one another. The goal of these trials is to improve performance of dogs in the field by giving them a competition to train for. Whether you are considering training your own dog for the trials or you simply want to know more about them, you will learn the basics about the AKC Field Trials in this article.

Basics of the Field Trials

Many breeds of dog were originally developed for hunting. Some dogs were bred to hunt large game while others were developed to flush birds so the hunter can shoot them. The American Kennel Club Field Trials were developed to test the skills of various hunting breeds against each other to find the dog that is the most skilled and capable of performing his duties. In order to determine the most skilled dog, breeds with similar skills and hunting styles must be pitted against each other – that is why the AKC Field Trials are broken into separate categories. Field Trials occur each year and many of the events are so popular that they are publicized on national television.

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Four Categories for Trials

The American Kennel Club Field Trials are broken down into four categories to pit certain breeds against each other. These categories are established based on the hunting style of certain breeds – the categories are trailing hounds, pointing breeds, flushing breeds, and retrieving breeds. Below you will find a brief description of each category as well as a list of breeds included in that category.

Trailing Hounds

This category is designed for trailing hounds, breeds that pursue rabbit and hare in packs, pairs or braces. Trials in this category have been held since the 1930s and they are designed to select trailing hounds that are of sound quality and ability. The breeds included in this category are Basset Hounds, Beagles and Dachshunds.

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Pointing Breeds

A pointing breed is trained to assist the hunter in finding prey by stopping and pointing at the moment they scent a game bird – the hunter may then walk past the dog to flush the bird into the air. Trials for pointing breeds have been held in Britain since 1866 but they didn’t come to the US until 1874. Though early trials only allowed for foot handlers, amendments have since been made to allow horseback handling and other styles. The breeds included in this category are Brittany Spaniels, Pointers, German Shorthair Pointers, German Wirehaired Pointers, English Setters, Gordon Setters, Irish Setters, Vizslas, Spinone Italiano, Weimaraners and Wirehaired Pointing Griffons.

Flushing Breeds

The field trials for flushing breeds are designed to test the skills of dogs who search for feathered game located within gunshot range of the hunter. When the dog discovers game, it flushes the birds into the air on command and retrieves any birds that are shot. The breeds included in this category are Clumber Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, English Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, Field Spaniels, Sussex Spaniels and Welsh Springer Spaniels.

Retrieving Breeds

These field trials are for dogs that retrieve game that has been shot by the hunter. These dogs are trained to retrieve both on land and in the water. The breeds included in this category are Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Curly-Coated Retrievers, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Irish Water Spaniels and Standard Poodles.

Whether you are interesting training your own dog for the trials or simply curious as to how they work, the American Kennel Club Field Trials are a fantastic way to keep your hunting dog’s skills and intellect in fine form.

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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