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Rule Book revised January 2018 (PDF)

Bird Management & Care Reference (PDF)


The Beginner Category

This level is our introductory category intended primarily for inexperienced dogs and/or inexperienced handlers. While it is an optional stake that can be offered by Field Test hosting clubs, it can be instrumental in providing young handlers a chance to participate in our program. NAHRA encourages family members of all ages to participate and this is a stage for even the youngest two and four-leggers to strut their stuff!

This level has no formal rules allowing perspective judges to have a lot of fun with the kids and the pups. The tests are extremely straight forward consisting of simple short retrieves. Clubs are free to establish their own running rules in which all dogs entered will be judges. Just having fun is a requirement of this level!

The Started Category

Started is NAHRA’s entry level category where dogs are first tested against the standard established by our rulebook. Started dogs who qualify in four Started Field Tests will earn the title, Started Hunting Retriever (SR) and potentially qualify to attend a Regional Field Test held annually.

Our purpose at this level is to bring young dogs along as hunters. They are tested to determine if they possess the basic tools to one day become a quality hunting companion and conservation tool. Desire is among the most important qualities judges will look for at this level. Judges will evaluate the dog’s natural and basic trained abilities in the tests they set.

Started dogs will display the minimum level of obedience and cooperation with their handler. They exhibit the ability to focus and complete five single retrieves on land and water. Successful dogs will have been introduced to varying amounts and types of cover and also the equipment or situations they might encounter in a hunting situation.

Dogs who complete the requirements at the Started level have shown they are candidates to move up in the program and become successful hunting companions.

The Hunter Category

The Hunter Category is the latest addition to the NAHRA program. It was developed to bridge the gap between the Started and Intermediate categories by reducing the number of skill sets required at the Intermediate Category. The Hunter dog will be able to fulfill some of the basic needs of the hunter.

The Hunter dog possesses the training and skill to remain quiet and under control in most hunting situations, complete a basic double retrieve and trail and recover a crippled bird. These abilities are paramount when considering a dog’s value as a conservation tool. While the Hunter dog has not yet acquired the skill and training to complete blind retrieves and complex multiple marks, they should exhibit focus and memory sufficient to complete the retrieves in an efficient manner and deliver all birds to hand without delay.

Hunter dogs who qualify in four Hunter Field Tests will earn the title, Hunting Retriever (HR) and potentially qualify to attend a Regional Field Test held annually.

The Intermediate Category

The NAHRA Intermediate dog is our working dog. These dogs have shown they possess the skill necessary to accompany the hunter in the field or the marsh. Intermediate dogs can complete double marked retrieves and perform blind retrieves on land and water. They can search and locate game in the field and trail and recover a crippled bird. At a level just below senior, they exhibit a solid obedience foundation and have shown they have what it takes to become a proficient hunting dog.

Intermediate dogs will hunt freely in the field and trail a bird but can also show control sufficient to complete a blind retrieve. Intermediate dogs usually have several years of hunting experience and are those who have proven their right to enter the breeding pool.

Intermediate dogs must have perseverance in hunting and complete marked retrieves with precision. Dogs must hunt with intent and purpose and deliver all birds to hand. The dog should prove its natural ability to use its nose without a doubt and also its eyes. Blind retrieves will be performed exhibiting a great deal of control and cooperation with their handler.

Intermediate dogs that qualify in four Intermediate Field Tests will earn the title, Working Retriever (WR) and also qualify to attend a Regional Field Test held annually.


The Senior Category

The Senior dog is the finished hunting retriever that any hunter would be proud to own and take into the field or marsh. His level of training and skill are superior. The NAHRA Senior dog can be taken afield anywhere and perform consistently. Complex triple marked retrieves and blind retrieves are completed with precision and polish. At this level, judges can combine any of the different tests in very complex hunting situations.

The hunter can take this dog anywhere to hunt anything that flies. Senior dogs will wait quietly outside the blind, sit on a tree stand or layout in the goose field under complete control at all times and remain steady under all conditions. They mark or hunt in all types and changing cover conditions, upland hunt in a brace and honor another dog’s work. They perform their work ignoring diversions, are steady to shot and fall, and persevere to complete a task under any conditions. They can do it all as they are the elite of all hunting dogs.

Senior dogs that earn the title Master Hunting Retriever (MHR) by qualifying in five Senior Field Tests are invited to attend NAHRA’s premier event, the NAHRA Invitational Field Test which is held annually.

At this level, NAHRA offers two additional titles for additional qualifications by Senior dogs. The title Grand Master Hunting Retriever (GMHR) is awarded to dogs that qualify in 15 Senior Field Tests. Senior dogs that qualify in 50 Senior Field Tests are awarded the title, Grand Master Hunting Retriever Champion. Both of these titles exhibit a long-term commitment and consistency of performance in the NAHRA program.

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