We love all dogs, but it’s a fact that specific breeds are naturally better at performing certain functions than others. Some purpose-bred dogs have innate skills as hunting companions; others assist in the herding of livestock; and others serve as guardians of people and property. When you and your dog participate in a performance sport, you show off your dog’s superior skills for performing practical functions that come naturally to him. Many performance sports are intended for specific breeds, while others welcome all dogs to participate.
Performance sports include:
- Basset Hound Field Trials – In a Basset Hound Field Trial, dogs run in packs of two or more after a rabbit or hare. Don’t worry: The rabbits and hares are never touched. The whole purpose of the event is to exhibit your dog’s scenting skills, not his actual hunting skills.
- Beagle Field Trials – In a Beagle Hound Field Trial, dogs run in packs of two or more to follow a rabbit or hare. Depending on which event you participate in, your dog will be judged on his ability to search and explore; to pursue and keep control of a trail; his accuracy in trailing; endurance; adaptability to changes in scenting conditions; patience; determination; and more.
- Coonhounds – Events for Coonhounds are designed to celebrate their beauty and natural abilities to hunt-by-scent in bench shows, field trials, nite hunts and water races.
- Coursing and CAT/FAST CAT – If you’ve ever wondered how fast your dog is, these tests are for you. They’re timed runs where your dog chases a mechanized lure around a course that simulates the unpredictability of chasing live prey. Training for these tests helps improve your dog’s focus, agility and sportsmanship. CAT and Fast CAT are open to all dogs.
- Dachshund Field Trials – Dachshund Field Trials are held in fenced-in areas, and the objective is to “track the game,” meaning to follow a scent trail that a rabbit or hare has left behind. Dogs run in packs of two (called a “brace”) and are judged on their ability to search and explore; to pursue and keep control of a trail; the accuracy in trailing; obedience to commands; their “willingness to go to earth” (into a tunnel or underground); courage; and more.
- Herding & Farm Dog – In this sport, your dog uses his innate herding abilities to move sheep (or other animals) around a field, fences, gates, or enclosures, while taking direction from you. Farm Dog is open to all dogs.
- Earth Dog – Open only to small terriers and Dachshunds, these tests assess your dog’s hunting skills for seeking and locating prey underground.
- Pointing breeds – In a Pointing Field Trial, your dog displays his keen desire to hunt for and find game, and how fast he can run. While there are various types of events, in all of them your dog must locate game, point staunchly, and be steady to a gunshot fired at a flying bird or target (“wing and shot”).
- Retrievers – In a Retriever Field trial, marks are shot through the air and land randomly in a large open area. Your dog runs, finds them, and retrieves them as quickly as he can while responding to hand signals or whistles from you or your handler. Contestants are judged on various traits they are born with including a strong memory for marks, intelligence, perseverance, and more.
- Scent Work – This sport mimics the task of working detection dogs to locate a scent and communicate that the scent has been found. It’s a positive, challenging activity that gives your dog the opportunity to use his strongest natural sense. Scent Work is open to all dogs.
- Spaniels – Spaniels were originally bred to hunt birds, and that’s exactly the goal of a Spaniel Field trial: To seek and find game in an eager, brisk, quiet manner and retrieve it right to your hand. After a gunshot rings through the air, a bird falls to the ground and, on cue, your dog will run to find it and brings it back.