Competing with your golden
There are a variety of activities to compete in with your Golden Retriever. Each forms a close bond between you and your best friend. Below are a few of the events available through the AKC.
Conformation events are intended to evaluate breeding stock. The size of these events ranges from large all-breed shows, with over 3,000 dogs entered, to small local specialty club shows, featuring a specific breed. The dog's conformation (overall appearance and structure), an indication of the dog's ability to produce quality puppies, is judged.
To be eligible to compete, a dog must:
- be individually registered with the American Kennel Club
be 6 months of age or older
- be a breed for which classes are offered at a
meet any eligibility requirements in the written standard for its breed
Spayed or neutered dogs are
not eligible to compete in conformation classes at a dog show,
because the purpose of a dog show is to evaluate breeding stock.
Obedience Trials test a dog's ability to perform a prescribed set of exercises on which it is scored. In each exercise, you must score more than 50 percent of the possible points (ranging from 20 to 40) and get a total score of at least 170 out of a possible 200. Each time your dog gets that magic 170 qualifying score, he's gotten a "leg" toward his title. Three legs and your dog has become an Obedience-titled dog! There are 3 levels at which your dog can earn a title and each is more difficult than the one before it. You may see levels divided into "A" and "B" at a trial; "A" classes are for beginners whose dogs have never received a title while "B" classes are for more experienced handlers.
Novice: The first level, Novice, results in your dog earning a Companion Dog (CD) title. The title actually describes what is expected of your dog: demonstrating the skills required of a good canine companion. The dog will have to heel both on and off leash at different speeds, come when called, stay (still and quietly!) with a group of other dogs when told, and stand for a simple physical exam.
The second level, Open, results in your dog earning a
Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title. He must do many of the same
exercises as in Novice, but off-leash and for longer periods.
Additionally, there are jumping and retrieving tasks.
Utility: The final level results in a Utility Dog (UD) title. These
are the cream of the crop. In addition to more difficult exercises,
the dog also must perform scent discrimination tasks.
OTCH and UDX: The best of the best can go on for more titles. Utility Dogs that place in Open B or Utility B classes earn points toward an Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) title. Utility Dogs that continue to compete and earn legs in both Open B and Utility B at 10 shows receive the title Utility Dog Excellent (UDX).
AKC tracking events are the competition form of canine search and rescue. These Tracking events provide training for dogs and their handlers to meet some human needs for tracking and finding lost humans or other animals, as well as, demonstrating the extremely high level of scent capability that dogs possess.
We've all seen movies with dogs following the trail of an escapee through swamps. The AKC's Tracking Tests allow dogs to demonstrate their natural ability to recognize and follow human scent. This vigorous outdoor activity is great for canine athletes. Unlike Agility and Obedience events that require a dog to qualify three times, a dog only needs to complete one track successfully to earn each title.
Tracking Dog (TD)
A dog earns a TD by following a track 440 to 500 yards long with three to five changes of direction. The track is laid by a human tracklayer and is "aged" 30 minutes to two hours before the dog begins scenting. The goal is to use the scented track to locate an article left at the end of the trail by the tracklayer. The owner follows the dog on a long leash and can encourage the dog during the tracking test.
Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX)
The TDX is earned by following an "older" track (three to five hours) that is also longer (800 to 1,000 yard) and has five to seven directional changes with the additional challenge of human cross tracks.
Variable Surface Tracking (VST)
In the real world, dogs track through urban settings, as well as through wilderness. A VST dog has demonstrated this ability by following a three- to five-hour-old track that may take him down a street, through a building and other areas devoid of vegetation.
Champion Tracker (CT)
A dog that has successfully completed all three tracking titles (TD, TDX and VST) earns the prestigious title of Champion Tracker.
Owners who do tracking with their dogs find joy in seeing the dogs at work using their innate scenting skills. If you and your dog like the outdoors, try tracking!
Agility began as an exhibition sport in Great Britain and was imported to the United States in 1977. The sport was patterned after equestrian events and combines handler control, agility, and confidence. The sport of agility is comprised of a course set up of many different obstacles. Agility is meant to be a fun, non-regimented sport, with a lot of spectator appeal. Obstacles include jumps, tunnels, a dog walk, a see-saw or teeter, an A-frame and weave poles.
The rules are fairly simple; handlers may give an unlimited number of commands or signals to their dogs, but may not touch either the equipment or the dog. Dogs are 'faulted' for actions such as taking down a jump bar, failing to put one or more feet in the safety or contact zone when ascending/descending contact equipment, taking obstacles out of sequence, and running past or stopping before the next obstacle to be performed. Time penalties are additionally assessed against dogs that exceed the SCT.
Dogs compete only against dogs of similar height at the withers within a fixed number of jump height divisions. The number of height divisions and the ranges of dog heights assigned to a height division (and therefore the difficulty factor) differ considerably from organization to organization. Regardless of the organization, the dog with the lowest number of faults and the fastest time wins the class or height division.
The purpose of a field trial is to determine the relative merits of Retrievers in the field.
The function of a Non-Slip Retriever is to seek and retrieve "fallen" game when ordered to do so. He should sit quietly on line or in the blind, walk at heel, or assume any station designated by his handler until sent to retrieve. When ordered, a dog should retrieve quickly and briskly without unduly disturbing too much ground, and should deliver tenderly to hand. He should then await further orders.
Accurate marking is of primary importance. A dog which marks the fall of a bird, uses the wind, follows a strong cripple, and will take direction from his handler is of great value.
Tests for the GRCA Working Certificate shall be as follows:
1. Land Double. The retrieving of two UPLAND game birds (not a mixed bag) on land in moderate cover with the birds approximately 40-50 yards from the line and the falls at least 90 degrees apart. For uniformity in the land double, both birds may be shot and killed prior to the start of the test. At the discretion of the judges, the diversion bird may be a shot flier. Bird throwers should be in light colored shirts or jackets. The use of "wingers" is prohibited in WC tests.
2. Back to Back Water Singles. The retrieving of two freshly killed ducks in swimming water in light cover with the ducks approximately 25 to 30 yards from the line. Bird throwers should be in light colored shirts or jackets. Each dog should retrieve at least one "new" duck. Previously used birds are to be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
The WC test is not intended to test the degree of training but rather to demonstrate the natural ability of the dog to perform normal hunting tasks. The double on land demonstrates the ability to mark and retrieve two birds and tests the memory of the dog. The back to back water singles demonstrate the ability to swim, to retrieve a waterfowl, and a willingness to re-enter the water. There is no competition between dogs in this test. The handler is expected to come to the line quietly with his dog under control at his side. The dog may be brought on leash or slip cord, but these must be removed during the test. The dog may run with a collar and may be held with the leash or slip cord until he is sent by the handler. After the judge has called the dog's number and the dog has been sent, the handler should stand quietly on line while the dog is working. No voice commands nor hand signals are allowed. These are marking tests; handling is not permitted.
When the dog has returned with his first bird on the land double, the handler may pat his side or speak to his dog by name, telling him to heel, sit, stay, etc., thereby getting the dog ready and lined up to go for the second bird. The handler may not take his dog by the scruff of the neck and pull him into position before sending him for the second bird. He may gently guide the dog by the collar to get his attention and steady him before sending him.
After the dog has retrieved the second bird, the handler may take the dog by the collar and lead him off the line. In each of the water singles, the handler may hold the dog until his number is called by the judge.