Test and Trials

These are run under Kennel Club Rules and Regulations and must have a Kennel Club Panel Judge for an Open Test.

These are Tests in which the dog is tested as to its competence in the shooting field, but without the actual shooting of game. Game is simulated by dummies, made of canvas (which may be purchased in most gun shops). For Open Tests cold game may be used (ie dead game).

Usually Tests are run for Puppies, Novices and for Open dogs.

Puppies – to be of an age between 6 months and 18 months. The dogs are usually tested for obedience, ie walk to heel, sit and stay and recall, possibly with a distraction. Simple hunting and a seen retrieve. Occasionally Puppies are asked to do a blind (unseen) retrieve.

Novice – This is for young dogs who have reached an age not to be eligible for Puppy, and have not won a Novice Test or been placed in an Open Test or Field Trial. The dogs are tested for hunting and will be asked to complete a seen and an unseen retrieve. The judge may add other tests if he/she wishes, but they will always be within the capabilities of a younger or less experienced dog.

Open – This is for any dog of any age and experience. Hunting will take priority and the dog may be asked to cross obstacles for the retrieve, or to retrieve one of two thrown dummies in the order in the Judge requires. Or any other test which the Judge may on the day require

Click on any picture to see enlarged view


It is often found to be difficult to get Kennel Club Panel Judges to judge for the Minor or Rarer Spaniels, and because of this, Clubs will sometimes run Assessment Tests where a Judge can be asked from the Working fraternity, usually someone who owns and works a Minor or Rarer Spaniel. These Tests are usually run in the same way as Working Tests with the same elegibility, but the Judges are just not Panel Judges.

The SEWSSC generally runs Assessment Tests in May each year. Contact the Working Secretary for details.

SEWSSC Assessments May 2007 Competitors


These are run under Kennel Club Rules and Regulations and in the shooting season as live game is used. There are always a limited number of runners (noted on the Schedule) and if the Trial is over subscribed, a draw is made for the runners, with the rest standing as ‘reserves’.

If a dog is not available at the time given in the Schedule, then the first of the reserves will take the run.

Field Trials are the ‘pinnacle’ for the working dog. No one should entertain the idea of entering a Trial unless they and their dog have a good knowledge of the shooting field by working with a gun or on a shoot. The dog must be used to gunshot and be obedient, plus good at retrieving warm (freshly shot) game.

Isfryn Ghost Swift retrieving a hen pheasant

A Field Trial is run just like a normal shooting day, only there are two Judges, one is from the A Panel and usually the other from the B Panel. The dogs run as per the Running Order provided on the day, with 1 and 2 running first and the next odd or even number being called in when the Judge is satisfied that he/she has seen enough from that particular dog. No 1 will run under the A Panel Judge and No 2 under the other Judge. When all dogs have competed, any who have not been eliminated will have a further run under the other judge, so that in the end all dogs left in have been seen by both of the Judges.

There are many ‘eliminating faults’ in a Field Trial, and these are noted in the Kennel Club Rules and Regulations, which any competitor should make themselves familiar with before entering a Trial.

To run in a Field Trial is nerve wracking and not for the faint hearted – but – if you are lucky enough to have a good run with your dog finding game, flushing it into the air, being steady to the fall (if it is shot!) and retrieving the game tenderly to hand, you will feel such a ‘BUZZ’ that you will want to continue, even if you do not get awarded a place that day.


The SGWC was originally to make a Show Champion into a ‘full’ Champion, ie to be able to drop the ‘Show’ bit from their title, and it still does this of course. However, the Kennel Club Regulations as from 1st January 2008 will state the following :-

A gundog which has won a Challenge Certificate or previously qualified for Crufts through a breed class may be entered for a Show Gundog Working Certificate at a Field Trial or a Show Gundog Working Day for it's sub group,licensed by the Kennel Club, with a minimum of two judges officiating, of which at least one must be an A Panel Judge.

The SGWC is intended to show that the gundog has retained it's natural working ability.

Ch. Julita Regal Request

In 2007 the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of South Wales ran a Show Gundog Working Day but in future years it could be any Club that is licensed to run Field Trials by the Kennel Club who could run a day.

The dog is required to run under two Panel judges, one of which must be on the A Panel just as in a Field Trial, it has to find game and put it into the air, it needs to be shot and then retrieved tenderly. Total steadiness is not required for the SGWC, (but it helps!). If the Judges are happy that the dog has found game and flushed it, but it has not been shot – then they may allow a retrieve of any freshly shot and unhandled game (ie ducks off the nearby pond) to prove that the dog will retrieve satisfactorily.

If the dog has satisfied the Judges that it has completed all the requirements, then it must complete a retrieve from water. However, this test does not need to be taken on the same day if water is not available, it may be taken on another day so long as there are Panel Judges in attendance, one of whom must be on the A Panel.

It is only when both these elements are completed that the dog will be awarded its Show Gundog Working Certificate and if it is already a Show Champion, will be made a Champion.

The Kennel Club can provide you with a leaflet which outlines the full requirements for the SGWC, contact the Team Leader - Field Trials, who is currently Hilary Gould.


The Kennel Club felt that there were many gundog owners who did not wish to enter competitive events but who trained to a high standard for the shooting field and would like to have acknowledgement of the ability of their dogs. So the Working Gundog Certificate came into being.

These are open to ANYONE with a properly trained dog of a high standard, and Certificates are issued when an animal shows that it has reached the required standard.

Full details of the requirements can be obtained from The Kennel Club as above for the SGWC.