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The AKC Spaniel
Hunting Test Program
( This information is from the AKC website, located at email@example.com )
…“I wish I could spend more time in the field with my dog.”
…“She’s a good dog. She would love to spend more time doing what she was bred to do.”
Many Spaniel enthusiasts have had these same thoughts. The American Kennel Club Spaniel Hunting Test
Program will provide you this opportunity. Whether you are a diehard hunter or a person who happened to
fall in love with a breed that can hunt, you will enjoy watching your dog’s instincts come alive through
preparation for and participation in Hunting Tests. They will help keep your dog physically fit, keep your
hunting companion sharp between hunting seasons, and challenge you to more thoroughly train your dog
should you decide to progress to higher levels of performance. Furthermore, Hunt Tests will provide you the
opportunity to associate with like-minded dog
owners in a healthy, family-friendly, outdoor
Purpose and General Overview
The purpose of the AKC Hunting Test program is to provide an
opportunity for a dog to demonstrate its field abilities in a manner
as consistent as possible with the demands of actual hunting
conditions. The following applies to all three levels of testing:
• Hunting Tests are open to all AKC registered Spaniels over six
months of age. There is no maximum age for any of the test levels.
Regulations pertaining to eligibility can be found at
• The dog’s natural hunting ability and training are scored against
a standard of performance. The standard varies by test level. The
basic attributes of the test allow the dog to demonstrate its
hunting abilities: “how to find ‘em,” “how to flush ‘em,” and
“how to bring ‘em back.”
• There are three test levels—Junior, Senior and Master.
• Hunting Tests are pass/fail events. Dogs are scored on their own
merit. There are no placements and no ranking
of the dogs.
• If in the opinion of the judges, a dog meets the
minimum requirements for the test entered, the
dog will receive a passing score, thereby earning
a “leg” toward a Junior (JH), Senior (SH), or
Master (MH) title.
• An AKC title certificate is awarded when a dog
receives the required number of passing scores.
The title will appear on the dog’s official AKC
• Dogs are run one at a time.
• Gunning is involved at all test levels. All
gunning is done by designated gunners.
• Females in season are not allowed to enter.
• Many participants attend an event just to watch prior to entering.
Tests are hosted by AKC licensed clubs. To find Hunting Tests in
your area, including event secretary contact information, visit the
AKC web site www.akc.org/events/search/. Select the State(s),
event type (hunting test) and time period.
Junior Hunting Test
A Junior dog must show a desire to hunt in an enthusiastic
manner and the ability to retrieve. It is not necessary that a dog
be steady to wing and shot. The dog should show no fear of
cover, a reasonable response to commands and maintain a
reasonable working distance from its handler.
Junior dogs must find, flush and have an opportunity to retrieve
two birds on land and a water retrieve at a reasonable distance.
Junior dogs should complete their retrieves to close proximity to
the handler, but need not retrieve completely to hand.
A Junior dog must achieve four qualifying scores to receive a
Junior Hunter (JH) title (the scoring system is explained below).
Senior Hunting Test
A Senior dog must show all of the attributes of a Junior dog. In
addition, the dog must show true boldness to cover, a pattern
addressing the course objectives and an intense desire to hunt. A
proper working distance and independent hunting sense must be
maintained. The dog need not be steady to wing and shot on land but
should not show uncontrollable chasing in a missed bird situation.
The dog must be line steady at water, must retrieve eagerly to hand,
and exhibit the ability to “hunt dead” on a blind retrieve.
A Senior dog must achieve five qualifying scores to receive a
Senior Hunter (SH) title, except that if the dog has earned a JH
title, then it will receive a SH title once it has achieved four
Master Hunting Test
The Master dog is expected to be a finished and experienced
hunting companion. While allowances for less than polished
performances can be made at the Junior and Senior levels, real
perfection is expected in Master. The Master must always be
under control and must handle kindly, with only the quiet
commands and signals that would be used when hunting. The
dog must locate game, flush well and must be absolutely steady
to wing and shot on land and at water. Intelligent use of wind
and terrain in locating game, accurate nose and intensity are
essential. A handler must not command a dog to retrieve until
steadiness has been demonstrated. The dog must retrieve
promptly, tenderly and absolutely to hand. A “water blind” of
approximately forty yards must be completed in addition to a
“hunt dead” on land of approximately sixty yards.
A Master dog must achieve six qualifying scores to receive a
Master Hunter (MH) title, except that if the dog has earned a SH
title, then it will receive a MH title once it has achieved five
The Scoring System
Keeping in mind that the purpose of a flushing dog is to hunt,
find, flush and retrieve birds in a pleasing and obedient manner,
the judge assigns a numerical score that reflects an estimation of
how well a dog performed against an established standard for
the test level under consideration. The ability categories are: (1)
Hunting ability, (2) Bird finding ability (3) Flushing ability, (4)
Trained abilities, (5) Retrieving abilities.
Judges assign a score from 0 to 10 for each category of
performance. As dogs advance, their performance is expected to
be more finished; therefore, they are judged with less tolerance.
In order to receive a passing score, a dog must average 7 across
all categories and cannot receive a score of less than 5 in any
The AKC Hunting Tests for Spaniels program started in 1986
and has enjoyed steady growth. There are roughly 100 flushing
dog Hunting Tests annually held across all regions of the United
States. To find one in your area, visit www.akc.org/events/search
then pick “Hunting Tests – Spaniels” and select your state.