AKC’s Herding Program offers both tests and trials. The herding test is offered in a non-competitive pass/fail format as an Instinct Test, Herding Test and Pre-Trial test. All are conducted within a fenced arena and includes the use of livestock such as ducks, sheep or cattle. During a test, a dog must demonstrate the ability to move and control livestock by fetching or driving and be sufficiently trained to work at the proper balance point to move the stock forward on the course. Herding Trials are competitive and dogs are scored on their herding abilities according to test level, course type and livestock type. There are three test levels – started, intermediate, advanced. There are three courses to choose from A,B,C with each course type focusing on various aspects of herding work such as versatility, control and movement of stock in an extended area, or tending to the flock in an unfenced area such a road or in grazing flock management. Throughout all field trials the teamwork between handler/shepherd and dog is essential.
Eligible breeds to compete are:
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Australian Shepherd
- Bearded Collie
- Belgian Malinois
- Belgian Sheepdog
- Belgian Tervuren
- Berger Picard
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Border Collie
- Bouviers des Flandres
- Canaan Dog
- Cardigan Welsh Corgi
- Entlebucher Mountain Dog
- Finnish Lapphund
- German Shepherd Dog
- Giant Schnauzer
- Great Swiss Mountain Dog
- Icelandic Sheepdog
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Miniature American Shepherd
- Norwegian Buhund
- Norwegian Elkhound (April 1, 2017)
- Old English Sheepdog
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Polish Lowland Sheepdog
- Pyrenean Shepherd
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Spanish Water Dog
- Standard Schnauzer
- Swedish Vallhund
To compete, your dog must be:
- At least 9 months of age.
- Physically sound and up-to-date on all inoculations and health check-ups.
- Have an AKC number via one of the following:
- AKC Registration as one of the AKC’s recognized breeds.
- AKC Canine Partners, which is for mixed-breed dogs and dogs ineligible for AKC registration.
- Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) program, which is for purebred dogs that cannot be fully registered with the AKC to participate in AKC events.
- Foundation Stock Service®(FSS), which is for recorded breeds on the road to full AKC recognition.
- Spayed and neutered hounds and hounds with limited registration are eligible to compete in these events and are welcome.
- Blind dogs are not be eligible.
- No dog can compete if it is taped or bandaged or in any way has anything attached to it for medical purposes.
You can start your dog off with a non-competitive herding test that will measure his basic instinct and trainability. The initial test is called the “Instinct Test,’ and your dog doesn’t need any training before entering this class. The judge is merely looking for the dog’s ability to move and control livestock by fetching or driving.
If you decide to compete, your dog will demonstrate that he can perform useful functions inherent in the herding breeds. To compete, your dog must have training and prior exposure to move and control livestock before entering a trial.
Request a rulebook so that you are familiar with what will be required of you and your dog at these events. Go to a Herding event in person to get more familiar with them, and find an AKC club near you to take a preparation class and participate in one.
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- Herding Rules and Regulations
- Regulation Updates:(3) 12 Trials a yr /Elkhounds Eligible/ Junior Handers (2/2017)
- Regulation Update: Event Secy May Enter Herding Trial (2/2014)
- Herding Regulations
- Herding Test and Trial Procedural Manual
- Master Title Application Form
- Judges Eligibility
- Performance Event Resources
- Performance Event Contact Info
- Participants with Disabilities
- Downloadable Forms
- Find a Club/Trainer
- Find an Event
- Points and Awards
- Titles and Abbreviations
- Judges’ Directory
- Judges’ Resources