Shooting Dog Standard (Horseback)
A Shooting Dog Stake is held for the purpose of promoting the ideal shooting dog, one that will find and handle correctly all game birds on the designated course.
The superior shooting dog is one that excites constant admiration for the quality of his performance and does nothing to displease or annoy. Without giving his handler any unnecessary effort, he will in an artistic and polished manner give him the most quality bird finds that are to he had on the ground covered.
The exemplary shooting dog displays an intense desire to find birds for his handler, a nose keen to detect the presence of game, and the ability to locate it quickly and accurately by body scent. He shows staunchness, intensity, positiveness and lofty style on point, and steadiness to
wing and shoot.
In hunting, a shooting dog of the first order evidences bird sense, an understanding of the habits of game, and displays the wisdom to use the wind to advantage; he adopts pace and range that is most effective on the ground being worked under the conditions which exist. He possesses speed, properly applied, is industrious and thorough in his search, handles the immediate terrain and does not run past objectives, and has adequate range, which is intelligently directed. He moves easily, pleasingly, gracefully animated and happy while running and manifests lofty head and tail on point. He works independent of continuous direction from the handler and exhibits perfect manners at all times. This includes, when opportunity is afforded, backing a brace mate on rigid point.
Intelligent patterning of a course, hunting to the front, quickness in locating his handler and in seeing and hearing his commands, prompt obedience, courage and willingness to face unflinchingly heavy or punishing cover plus boldness on game, mark the class shooting dog. Proper handing response is paramount.
The performer that fulfills the requirements naturally and cheerfully is preferable to one that works mechanically, although effortlessly.
Whenever practicable, the dog may be worked on single birds and should do his work cheerfully and in a natural way.
It is distinctly understood that a slow dog, one lacking in stamina, or one that is circumscribed in range is not in favor. All the speed and range a dog can well utilize in the hunting field is desired, but it must at all times be applied properly. The bold, snappy, dashing dog will have quick and pleasing response at all times, keeping uppermost in mind the finding and pointing of birds for his handler. A dog should not hunt in straight lines, but exhibit intelligence and true bird-finding ability by hunting the likely places on the course, working for his handler, swinging to the course when the character of the country and cover requires so doing. Instinct, natural qualifications, training and experience equip him for superior work. Exceptional style, beauty of carriage, and grace of movement are important.
The Standard seeks to glorify the ideal hunting dog which works indefatigably in the interest of the gun, a dog with character and courage which displays all essential qualifications, plus refinements of expert training.
In any given Shooting Dog Stake, it may be very difficult to place a dog which totally meets this exalted standard (Parke C. Brinkley, Standard for the National Open Shooting Dog Championship). Therefore, out of necessity, there will frequently be a need to accept a dog whose qualities and character can only begin to approximate this standard. The standard when applied should seek out the dog which displays superior bird dog characteristics in the form of natural qualities such as pace, range, bird sense, nose, stamina and style. The contender sought after should render a balanced, biddable performance, search intelligently and exhibit bird finding ability with quality always superseding quantity, manifest accuracy of location, loftiness and intensity on point. Subservience to the handler and proper handling response without the benefit of scouting and excessive handling are the “sine qua non” of a shooting dog. Excessive range on the part of a shooting dog is not considered desirable. When considering bird work, the judge should be swayed not by the frequency of occurrence but rather by the quality of performance.