Basset Hound Field Trials

Introducing the Hunting Test - A Performance Event

by Thad Makowski, BHCA Hunt Test Chairman

"The purpose of the Hunting Test is to offer an opportunity for a person to demonstrate a hound's ability to perform in a manner consistent with the demands of actual hunting conditions. Testing in this manner is to gauge natural hunting ability, desirable qualities that indicate ability to be effective and efficient in the pursuit of quarry." AKC Reg. Chapter 3, Sec. 1.

Over 5 years ago, the AKC invited the Basset Hound Club of America to participate in a pilot program with the goal of establishing an official Hunting Test where a hound could earn HH (Hunting Hound), SHH (Senior Hunting Hound), and MHH (Master Hunting Hound) titles. What this means is that the opportunity now exists for testing your hound against the Standard and not just against another hound. We have all stood ringside at dog shows privately judging a hound and asking ourselves "but could it work in the field if asked to do so?" Ideally, dog show judging should reward qualities and soundness in a hound which comes closest to defining whether this hound conforms to the standard and whether or not the hound could perform the function it was bred to perform, but that is not always the case. In France, in order for a dog to achieve a conformation championship, that dog must have a minimum amount of documented achievement in the field.

During the hunt test, a hound is evaluated on its line ability, ability to find, determination, adaptability and gun shyness. Hounds may compete in 3 different stakes: solo (one dog along), brace (two dogs together) or 2 coupled pack (4 dogs together). Scores are determined by averaging out the individual scoring of each judge in each category. An overall score of 6 or more constitutes a qualifying score. Dogs are encouraged to work independently and find their own game.

Since its early beginnings, hunting tests have been held in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Florida. In addition to Basset Hounds, Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Dachshunds and Beagles are being invited to compete and are achieving titles. This is truly a fun event where the owner can experience the excitement of a field event and the hound can be judged against a standard. Spayed and neutered animals may compete and earn titles. Interest in the hunt test has been steadily increasing, and we are hoping that the Hunt Test will soon provide another avenue for testing a hound's natural instinct and ability in the field. Current rules governing the hunt test.

Thad Makowski
BHCA Hunt Test Chairman