About the NAVHDA Testing System

We provide an accurate, complete performance evaluation on each dog tested

Valid, meaningful tests for versatile hunting dogs must  be conducted in an environment that reflects actual hunting conditions, and they must test the important qualities of a good versatile dog. Judges must be knowledgeable, consistent and objective, and all testing and evaluation should reflect the extent to which dogs are productive hunting companions. NAVHDA tests have been designed with these requirements in mind. In addition, our database provides an accurate, searchable, and complete performance evaluation on each dog tested.

In order to eliminate direct competition between dogs, entrants in a NAVHDA test are judged one at a time, by three judges, with their performance scored against a standard. The only exception to this is the Invitational Test, in which dogs are braced in the field so each dog can demonstrate its willingness to back and work effectively with another dog. Prizes are awarded on the basis of numerical scores achieved in the test. Each dog that meets or exceeds minimum standards in all areas of work is placed in one of three categories: Prize I, II or III. If all dogs entered in a NAVHDA test perform well, all can receive a prize.

If you are interested in testing your dog or learning more about the specific tests we offer, please see the Test Entry Guidelines along with the Aims, Programs & Test Rules.

NAVHDA chapters sponsor four kinds of tests:

Natural Ability

Natural Ability (NA) Test

Natural Ability Test Eligibility

Dogs are eligible for a Natural Ability Test until and including the day they reach 16 months of age. Dogs over 16 months may be tested for evaluation if space is available, but no prize classifications are awarded dogs tested for evaluation. No game is shot during the NA test , and no retrieves are required.  There is no set sequence for conducting the four general phases. 

 

The Natural Ability Test is organized into four main segments, or phases, as follows:

1.  Field Phase - The dog is hunted in cover where the presence of game has been assured by releasing of game birds.  Each dog is hunted for a minimum of 20 minutes and is evaluated on:

  • Use of Nose
  • Search
  • Pointing
  • Desire to Work
  • Cooperation
  • Gun Shyness

2.  Tracking Phase - The dog is given an opportunity to track a flightless running pheasant or chukar.  Each dog is judged on the following items:

  • Use of Nose
  • Tracking
  • Desire to Work
  • Cooperation

3.  Water Phase - The dog is tested for its willingness to swim.  The following items are judged during the water test:

  • Water Entry
  • Desire to Work
  • Cooperation

4.  Evaluation of Physical Attributes - Each dog's teeth, eyes, and coat are evaluated, typically after completion of the water phase. 

Utility Preparatory Test

Utility Preparatory Test (UPT)

The Utility Preparatory Test is divided into three main segments:

1) Field Group – Each dog is hunted for a minimum of 25 minutes and is evaluated on:
  • Search
  • Pointing
  • Steadiness on Game
  • Retrieve of Shot Bird
  • Retrieve of Dragged Game

2) Water Group

  • Water Search
  • Walking at Heel
  • Steadiness by Blind
  • Retrieve of a Duck

3) Evaluation of Physical Attributes - Each dog's teeth, eyes, and coat are evaluated, typically after completion of the water phase. 

The following are judged throughout the Utility Preparatory Test:
  • Use of Nose
  • Desire to Work
  • Cooperation
  • Obedience
Utility Test

Utility Test (UT)

 

The Utility Test is divided into three main segments:

1) Field Group – Each dog is hunted for a minimum of 30 minutes and is evaluated on:
  • Search
  • Pointing
  • Steadiness on Game
  • Retrieve of Shot Bird
  • Retrieve of Dragged Game
2) Water Group
  • Search for a Duck
  • Walking at Heel
  • Remaining by Blind
  • Steadiness by Blind
  • Retrieve of a Duck

3) Evaluation of Physical Attributes - Each dog's teeth, eyes, and coat are evaluated, typically after completion of the water phase. 

The following are judged throughout the Utility Test:
  • Use of Nose
  • Desire to Work
  • Cooperation
  • Stamina
  • Obedience
Invitational Test

Invitational Test

The NAVHDA Invitational is held annually in various locations throughout the central United States. The invited dogs have all performed at the highest level of competence in the NAVHDA Utility Test, demonstrating the full range of a true versatile hunting dog.

Many of the versatile breeds participate in this event and all dogs are judged according to the standards developed by NAVHDA over the past 50 years.

The test is divided into two groups: Field and Water.

  • Field work consists of field search, pointing, steadiness, backing and retrieving with the dogs being run in braces.
  • Water work consists of a blind retrieve, double-marked retrieve and honoring a retrieve.

Cooperation, obedience, desire and nose are judged throughout the entire test

The Invitational Test is not necessarily the same at each venue or each year because tests can be, and are, modified to accommodate the available terrain and weather conditions. Please note that any modifications are done to achieve the best evaluation of your hunting dog in a hunting scenario that is as true to life as possible.

Dogs successfully completing the Invitational Test with a passing score will receive the title of “Versatile Champion,” further recognized by placing VC before their names.

For more information please refer to the Invitational FAQ.

Click Here for details on the upcoming Invitational.