Menu toggle icon.
Menu toggle icon.

Pointing Breed Field Trials

About Pointing Breed Field Trials

Pointing Breed Field Trials are a competitive event designed to assess the abilities of pointing breeds in a field setting. These trials are not only a showcase of canine athleticism and training but also an important aspect of preserving and enhancing the natural hunting abilities of these breeds. The sport, involving breeds such as the Pointer, German Shorthaired Pointer, Vizsla, and others, places an emphasis on a dog’s ability to locate, point, and sometimes retrieve game under simulated hunting conditions.

In a Pointing Breed Field Trial, dogs are tested for their keen sense of smell, agility, endurance, and ability to work in harmony with their handler. The trials are conducted in an open field where game birds, typically quail, pheasant, or partridge, are present. Dogs are expected to search for the game, point steadfastly when they detect it, and hold their position until the handler arrives. The pointing behavior, where the dog stands rigid, often with one front paw lifted, indicates the game is nearby.

The trials are judged based on several criteria, including the dog’s ability to find and point game, the style and intensity of the point, obedience, and overall cooperation with the handler. Judges closely observe the dog’s behavior, the efficiency with which it covers the ground, and its response to commands.

Pointing Breed Field Trials typically have different categories and levels of competition, accommodating various age groups and experience levels of the dogs. Puppy and Derby Stakes are for younger dogs, focusing on the development of their natural abilities, while Adult Stakes test more refined skills and training.

Apart from being a competitive sport, Pointing Breed Field Trials play a crucial role in the development and maintenance of the hunting qualities of these breeds. Breeders and trainers use these trials as benchmarks to assess and improve the hunting capabilities and behavioral traits of their dogs. Enthusiasts of the sport appreciate the deep bond formed between the handler and dog, as well as the respect for wildlife and nature that is inherent in the sport.

History & Evolution of Pointing Breed Field Trials

The history of Pointing Breed Field Trials is steeped in tradition and closely linked with the development of sporting dog breeds and hunting practices. These trials, originating in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries, began as informal competitions among hunters and breeders. They were avenues to demonstrate the prowess of dogs in field conditions that mirrored real-life hunting. This era was crucial for the development of various pointing breeds, with breeders focusing on enhancing traits like scenting ability, stamina, and the instinct to point game.

As the tradition of Field Trials crossed the Atlantic, it found fertile ground in the United States in the late 19th century. This introduction coincided with the rising popularity of upland game hunting and the importation of European pointing breeds. The first organized Field Trial in the United States was held in the 1870s, marking the beginning of a rich tradition in American hunting and dog sports culture.

The evolution of the sport saw a gradual move towards standardization. Initially, the rules and formats of these trials varied widely, but there was a growing need for uniformity. Organizations like the American Kennel Club (AKC) emerged in the late 19th century, establishing unified rules and regulations. The 20th century marked the professionalization of the sport, with dedicated trainers and handlers, and specialized breeding programs focusing on field performance.

Technological and methodological advances have continually influenced Pointing Breed Field Trials. Modern tracking and training equipment have revolutionized how handlers prepare and manage their dogs in the field, enhancing both safety and efficiency.

Today’s Pointing Breed Field Trials encompass a diverse range of events, from local club trials to prestigious national championships. The sport has not only maintained its traditional roots but has also embraced international influences, integrating breeds and training techniques from around the globe. Moreover, these events have grown to play a role in wildlife conservation and education, promoting ethical hunting practices and the conservation of game species.


Over the years, Pointing Breed Field Trials have evolved from niche, informal events into a highly organized and popular dog sport. This evolution reflects not only the athleticism and skill of the dogs but also the deep bond, trust, and communication between handlers and their canine partners. As the sport has grown in popularity, a number of organizations have emerged to support, regulate, and promote it, each playing a vital role in its development.

While some organizations are specifically focused on Pointing Breed Field Trials, others are expansive canine associations that cover a wide range of dog-centric activities, with Field Trials being one of many disciplines. These organizations are instrumental in shaping the future of the sport, establishing standards, and maintaining its core values and traditions.

AKC (American Kennel Club):

  • About: The AKC, founded in 1884 and based in the United States, is one of the most well-known dog registries globally, catering to purebred and companion dogs.
  • Breed Acceptance: Primarily purebred pointing breeds.
  • Eligibility: Refer to AKC Pointing Breed Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedures for eligibility requirements.

UKC (United Kennel Club):

  • About: Founded in 1898 in the United States, the UKC is known for its inclusive approach and recognition of both purebred and mixed breed dogs in various events.
  • Breed Acceptance: Both purebred and mixed breeds, with a focus on hunting and retrieving capabilities.
  • Eligibility: Refer to Official UKC Pointing Dog Rulebook for eligibility requirements.

NSTRA (National Shoot to Retrieve Association):

  • About: NSTRA, founded in the United States, specializes in Field Trials that simulate hunting conditions and emphasize the dog’s ability to find and point game.
  • Breed Acceptance: Pointing breeds.
  • Eligibility: Refer to NSTRA Rules & By Laws for eligibility requirements.

FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale):


Pointing Breed Field Trials

It seems we can't find what you're looking for.


Showsight Magazine | February 2024

February 2024 Vol. 32 No. 2

on sale now