Overview of NAVHDA Tests

This is a basic overview of the four tests NAVHDA conducts. Anyone interested in testing their dog should order a copy of the AIMS Programs and Test Rules book at www.navhda.org

To register for a test, visit our Test Registration page. 

1. Natural Ability 

As the name implies, the Natural Ability (NA) test is designed to evaluate young dogs on their inherent natural abilities with a view to gaining an insight into their possible future value as versatile gun dogs.

The NA test is organized into four segments:

  1. Field Phase - each dog is hunted for a minimum of 20 minutes and is scored or evaluated on Use of Nose, Search, Pointing, Desire, Cooperation and Gun Shyness.
  2. Tracking Phase - each dog is judged on Use of Nose, Tracking, Desire to Work and Cooperation.
  3. Water Phase - during the water test, the dogs are judged on Water Entry, Desire to Work and Cooperation.
  4. Physical Characteristics - Recognizing the fact that a long useful life and ease of performance are enhanced by a sound body and protective coat, dogs should be evaluated for physical soundness but will not be considered in awarding prizes.

2. Utility Preparatory Test

The Utility Preparatory Test (UPT) is just what the name implies. It is a test midway between the Natural Ability Test and the Utility Test. The dog's level of obedience and training should demonstrate that it is on its way to becoming a Utility dog.

The Utility Prep Test is divided into two groups:

  1. Water Group - includes Water Search, Walking at Heel, Steadiness by Blind and Retrieve of a Duck.
  2. Field Group - includes Search, Pointing, Steadiness on Game, Retrieve of Shot Bird and Retrieve of Drag.

Throughout the UPT test, the dog is also judged on Use of Nose, Desire to Work, Cooperation, Obedience and Physical Attributes.

3. Utility Test

Designed to test a hunting dog's usefulness to the on-foot hunter in all phases of hunting both before and after the shot, in field and marsh and on different species of game. A dog that successfully completes the Utility Test will have demonstrated that he is a master, or at the very least a good, solid and reliable journeyman.

The UT test is divided into two groups:

  1. Water Group - Search for a Duck, Walking at Heel, Remaining by Blind, Steadiness by Blind and Retrieve of a Duck.
  2. Field Group - Search, Pointing, Steadiness on Game, Retrieve of Shot Bird and Retrieve of Dragged Game.

Throughout the UT test the dog is also evaluated on Use of Nose, Desire to Work, Cooperation, Stamina, Obedience and Physical Attributes.

The Utility Test is both challenging and demanding. It befits the NAVHDA aim of "fostering, improving, promoting and protecting the versatile hunting dog in North America."

4. Invitational Test

At present the Invitational is NAVHDA's highest level test. Designed to evaluate an exceptional hunting dog for superior ability, versatility and obedience in all phases of work and a variety of hunting situations.

Dogs successfully completing the Invitational Test with a passing score clearly demonstrate exceptional skill, ability and obedience. Only dogs who have earned a Prize I score in the Utility Test will be "invited" to run at the Invitational Test.