Weimaraner Club of America (WCA) Ratings Tests are one of many “field” sporting events that provide an opportunity for handlers and dogs to participate in a sport where Weimaraners perform their purpose, the original reason for the breed: to run, hunt, find prey, point and retrieve. Other field sporting events include Field Trials, Hunt Tests, and North American Versatile Hunting Dog (NAVHDA) tests.
Ratings tests are for Weimaraners only. In Ratings Tests, the handler and dog do not compete with other dogs. Instead they are “tested” against a standard set of criteria and then “pass” or “fail” as determined by a judge. The handler and dog participate with one other handler and dog in a “brace”. Multiple braces make up a test. Live upland birds (usually quail on the East coast) are placed on the course for the dogs to locate.
The ratings are divided into two separate classifications: one covering pointing and upland bird field work (Shooting Dog), and the other covering retrieving (Retrieving Dog). Both have 3 levels of tests. The Shooting Dog Ratings tests the dogs’ ability to find and point birds during a 15-30 minute event. The most advanced dogs test for Shooting Dog and Shooting Dog Excellent titles. These dogs must be steady to wing and shot. This means that the dog must remain pointing until the handler has flushed the bird and shot a blank pistol and then released the dog. A retrieve is required for the dog to fetch and return the bird after the shot.
The Retrieving Ratings tests the dogs’ ability to retrieve birds on land and in water. The most advanced dogs test for Retrieving Dog and Retrieving Dog Excellent. These dogs must be steady to shot which means they have to wait until the handler releases them to retrieve. The Novice Retrieving Dog test is a great place to start for new dog owners. Weimaraners are natural retrievers and so just a few training days can lead to success! The dog must retrieve a bird on the ground and also jump into the water to retrieve a bird. They usually love this!!!
Our club hosts rating tests every year. Our club has many dogs who have achieved these titles.
If you are interested, there are lots of ways to learn more about ratings tests and field work. Our club holds training events throughout the year. We can help you with your puppy or older dog. You can attend events to watch and admire the dogs as they run, find and retrieve birds. It is a treat to watch them!
More detailed information on WCA Ratings Tests can be found here: http://weimaranerclubofamerica.org/main/images/pdf/ratings_test_standards.pdf