In the AKC, the largest registry in the USA, breeds are split into groups based on their purposes. Many of the groups and some individual breeds have competitions or titling events.
Unlike the types of competition, open to essentially all breeds (including mixed breeds, depending on the registry the club offering the event is affiliated with), these events are open specifically to the breeds that would historically do the jobs the events mimic.
Find Out What Your Dog Was Bred to Do
Nothing is more satisfying for most dogs than doing what they were bred to do, whether it’s hunting, herding, or ridding the farm of vermin.
Every dog is eligible, and in fact, encouraged, to do the training necessary to earn the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen certificate. The CGC program stresses responsible dog ownership and basic manners. The 10-part CGC test is also used as the partial model for many therapy-dog tests. Testing is available at locations around the country throughout the year.
In addition to the traditional herding breeds like Border collies, German shepherds, and Shetland sheepdogs, flock drivers, like rottweilers, Samoyeds, and Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs may also participate.
There are several different types of field trials, separated by type. There are pointing breed trials, retrieving breed trials, and spaniel or “flushing” breed trials, as well as individual trials for the various scent hounds, like coonhounds, basset hounds, and beagles. Hunt tests are another type of field trial open to multiple hunting breeds.
Earth Dog Trials
Go to ground! These tests are open to terriers and dachshunds and are designed to test and preserve the instincts of the original critter getters. Dogs must crawl underground through a tunnel and go after vermin with enthusiasm.
Open to the sight hounds, like Afghan hounds, borzois, and salukis, these events test the dogs’ ability to hunt by sight by following a fast-moving lure around a 600- to –800-yard course.
Working Dog Titles
Offered by many breed clubs, working tests demonstrate that a dog can perform (or at least has the instinct to perform) the job for which he was bred. Ranging from water rescue work titles for Newfoundlands and Portuguese water dogs, to carting and weight pulling for the draft breeds like Bernese mountain dogs, many breed clubs offer opportunities to earn working certificates.
What to Do If Your Dog Didn’t Read the Book
Sometimes, two great musicians can produce a tone-deaf child. And so it is with dogs. Maybe your golden retriever isn’t a natural swimmer or retriever, but he loves lure coursing. And maybe your pug seems to be a typical Labrador reincarnated, swimming and retrieving with the best of them. Or perhaps you have a mixed breed or a breed that isn’t recognized for competition by the major show-licensing registries.
Just because your dog can’t compete in the activity, doesn’t mean you can’t train for it and pursue it for fun and that your dog won’t enjoy it, even she isn’t eligible for a title. A Shih Tzu going to ground like a terrier? Why not?
With the variety of activities to suit literally every interest and commitment level, there’s really no excuse not to get out and do something with your dog.