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The UKC Pointing Dog Titles of Excellence and Their Relevance To The Steadiness Issue
Posted on 01/30/2008 in Notes From The Field.

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The UKC Pointing Dog Titles of Excellence and Their Relevance To The Steadiness Issue
Let’s face it, there are many little things that need to come together to pass, let alone be in contention to win a field trial. The traits that the judges are looking for in dogs as required by the rules are numerous. That being said, no other single trait has more impact on success (pass or placement) or failure (oooh, that word hurts) than the steadiness requirements.

The most recent rule changes have assured that there is a place, or level if you will, in the pointing dog program for handlers and dogs with varying degrees of experience. Previously, the owners of some good, solid performing hunting dogs, were entering trials more on the basis of supporting their club, than with any intentions of being able to pass even a novice stakes. Today, that is not the case. Without making the program any easier in the higher levels, there is now a slot in which owners can enter and hope in confidence that should ol’ Spot hold up his end of the bargain, they may take home a pass ribbon and eventually a UKC title.

Before we get into the following degrees of steadiness, let’s first come to an agreement on what we consider steady. Steady means that a dog is standing it’s point without moving. Staunch, still, solid and many other terms are used to describe the same thing. The temptation for the dog to move at some point during the flush, wing, shot, and retrieve sequences can be strong and is the reason that steadiness has such great impact on the requirements for titles of excellence. The higher the title, the greater degree of steadiness which is required to earn it. And so it should be.

Outlined below are the field titles awarded by United Kennel Club, Inc. to pointing dogs. Follow along and we’ll see how dogs and handlers progress through the program and the six titles associated with it based on their current level of training. Keep in mind we are only referencing the relevance of the steadiness issue. There are of course many other requirements at each level.

TAN – This is basically a natural ability title. It is the beginning level and only available to dogs three years of age and younger. In regards to steadiness, dogs must establish a point on their own for a period of at least three seconds. The handler may not whoa them into a point. They may still pass a TAN even if they bump the bird after their three second point. The TAN title is an indication a young dog has some natural ability and is a candidate for further training.

HUNT – The HUNT degree is attainable by earning a pass in the gun dog class at three licensed field trials. It does not require a placement or pass with honor to be earned. A basic pass in the gun dog class can be earned by a dog that is steady to flush. The dog must establish a point on it’s own. After the dog establishes point, no more than the slightest encouragement or discouragement in the form of a whoa may be given and the dog must remain steady until the handler flushes the bird. A dog that is trained to the degree that it moves after the bird is flushed can realistically compete for the HUNT title.

GUN – The GUN degree is earned when a dog earns three passes in the gun dog class including one first place or two reserve placements. The steadiness factor to earn this degree is turned up a notch above what is required for a HUNT title because dogs must be steady to wing, and up until the shot is fired. Dogs may break at the shot and still earn a placement. Keep in mind however that steadiness can be a deciding issue in placing dogs in the Gun Dog class. Just because a dog meets the minimum requirements for steadiness is not guarantee that it will earn the necessary first or reserve placement required for the GUN title.

TR (Trialer), CHF (Champion of the Field) and GRCHF (Grand Champion of the Field) – All the titles that are earned in the Open class basically have the same requirements for steadiness and that is that dogs must be steady to wing and shot in order to receive a placement. There are some situations where dogs may earn a pass for slightly less than perfect work but because each of the above titles requires a placement, it can be said that dogs must be steady to wing and shot. They may not break to retrieve until commanded to do so in liberated / shot bird trials and in wild bird trials, must stand their point until handled.

You can see reading through the above that their truly is a level for all participants no matter where they are at in the training process of their favorite bird finder.