The following applies more particularly to bird dog trials. Judging is done on a percentage ranking tho the judge is expected to apply much common sense to his judging. The seven major considerations are as follows:
1. Range; does the dog cover much area?
2. Speed; does he cover the area at good speed?
3. Quartering; does he cover or range the field thoroly, not missing any area?
4. Style; does he do his work stylishly, and when he makes a point, does he do so with showmanship?
5. Staunchness on point; when he does locate a bird, does he do so without Hushing the bird and is he steady on point without running on to the bird or past the bird?
6. Bird sense; does the dog know what it is all about? Does he pick out and range over those spots where game is most likely to be located rather than run aimlessly everywhere?
7. Endurance; does he keep up his work without tiring or showing unwillingness to work? Each handler or owner takes his dog out in front of the crowd and shouts a command, loosens the lead and the dog is away at high speed without being told that he must do this or that. The instinct to quarter or cover a field working back and forth in zigzag line is a natural act for the field dog. He is away with his mind intense upon his work.
He locates game not so much by the foot scent on the ground as by the body scent which hovers in the air just a little above the ground. Half of the time during the thirty minutes allowed for the heat, he may be entirely out of sight altho usnalIy he can be seen at a quarter to half mile away from the gallery. The handler may use the whistle or his upraised arm or his voice to send his dog out or to have him change direction or to order him back. Now and then a dog is lost because he ranges too far and gets out of sight.
When one or more birds are located, the dog freezes into a rigid position, a thrill passes thru the crowd. A cry goes up, “point,” and everyone awaits expectantly. The handler hurries up behind his dog and fires the pistol. Then the game of course is flushed; it rises out of the hiding place which may be tall grass, and flies into the air.
It is seldom that two dogs cross each other’s paths and so the credit for a find usually is clear. A welI trained dog will back or support the dog that has come upon game—a point. A shooting dog trial is open to all ages. The dogs are judged strictly on a shooting basis regardless of style or speed. The dog should work close to the handler or hunter and should have strong bird sense.