Shooting Dog Certificates

Everything you need to know about the SDC before entering your dog and competing.

The SDC was set up in 1981/82 by the late Hon Mrs Amelia Jessel to address this shortfall by encouraging people who had working dogs with the above qualities but not trialled, to have them assessed in a non-competitive arena. Mrs. Jessel’s blueprint for Assessors was “they should imagine they are looking for a good working dog to buy that is going to be a useful shooting companion for the rest of its life”.

She summed up the aim of the SDC as being “designed to find and to register those Flatcoats that are most likely to pass on the right inheritable characteristics to their progeny and to eliminate from the breeding programme those that display the major faults of whining, hard mouth, stubbornness or lack of desire to please”.

Guide to Handlers:

Dogs participating in a SDC will be required to:

  1. Retrieve freshly shot game, either live ie. wounded or dead, tenderly to hand. The Assessors will determine the final number of retrieves according to conditions on the day. Handlers should expect a minimum of FOUR retrieves to include at least one wounded bird, which wherever possible should be picked immediately. (The Assessors may want to move the dogs back at a drive(s) in order to test them on wounded birds and in cover.)
  2. Be able to hunt and pick game from open ground or any cover normally encountered on a shoot. Dogs that generally lack confidence or the inclination to hunt and/or retrieve game may not be awarded a Certificate.
  3. Retrieve fur or feather.
  4. Be steady and quiet whilst sitting in line at a drive/drives. To be considered steady, a dog should sit calmly and quietly, on or off the lead, and without any interference from its handler.
  5. Walk reasonably to heel. Dogs that are OFF the lead during drives could achieve an “A” Certificate and dogs ON the lead a “B” Certificate. A dog trying for an “A” that proves unsteady, may continue to try for a “B”.
  6. Readily enter water and swim. When no suitable water is available on the day to assess the dogs on game or dummies, a special water test must be completed before the Certificate can be awarded.
  7. Be under reasonable control throughout the day. Handlers will be required to keep their dogs under control all the time and not just for the short periods when in line. To be considered under reasonable control, the dog must be able to walk to heel, take basic directions and be responsive enough to the whistle so that it is deemed safe to take out in the shooting field; the Assessors will not be looking for or expect Field Trial standards.
Extract from the FCRS Newsletter Autumn 1997 by the late Hon Mrs. A. Jessel

“To give a resume of the standard required for the Shooting Dog Certificate: dogs should be steady and quiet during a drive which may include many falling birds. Even if the dog is on a lead, it should not be restless or tugging at the lead. It should be steady at heel as it will be required to walk at heel between drives. After the drive is over the Assessor will ask the handler to work his dog, either in the open or in cover, so the dog must be obedient enough to go in more or less the direction required, to hunt its ground and to return when called. It should pick up cleanly either live (wounded) or dead game and deliver it to hand. Game may be pheasant, partridge, duck, rabbit, hare, pigeon, woodcock, snipe or any other legitimate game. We cannot guarantee only pheasants and partridges. The dog should be capable of FCRS Shooting Dog Certificate Guidance and Rules – Revised October 2018 hunting for game that it hasn’t seen fall. It should also enter water and swim although very often this test will be artificial. There is nothing in the above that a picking up dog should not be required to do. In fact it should not be used for picking up if it is not capable of the above”.

Are you ready to compete?

In summary, if you wish to enter a SDC you need to be able to answer Yes to the nine questions below:

  1. Will your dog retrieve tenderly to hand, both live and dead game?
  2. Will your dog readily enter cover to work?
  3. Will your dog pick both fur & feather?
  4. Is your dog reasonably steady at drives, whether on or off the lead?
  5. Is your dog quiet at all times whilst working?
  6. Will your dog walk reasonably to heel throughout the day?
  7. Will your dog enter water, swim and retrieve?
  8. Will your dog remain under reasonable control throughout the day?
  9. Will your dog go in the general direction of where you send it?

Your signature on a SDC application is your confirmation that your dog is capable of performing all of these required tasks.

Not ready yet? If your dog is currently unable to complete the above tasks, or you are unsure, then please contact a member of the FT Sub-Committee who will be able to help you. We may also be able to assist if you do not have regular access to a shoot.

Organise an SDC event

Firstly, please go to the rules and read the rules at the very bottom for orgaisers. If you know of a shoot where an SDC could be organised and have the agreement of the venue owner or keeper, contact a Member of the FT Sub-Committee and provide them with the contact information. They will discuss the proposed venue with the FT Secretary and a decision will be taken on whether to proceed. We will notify you of our decision as quickly as possible.

Read the SDC rules

Before committing to an SDC event you need to thoroughly read the rules and general information about the day found on our rules page. 

Join us on an SDC event

See what events are being held and book yourself on to a local event, by clicking through to our booking page.

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