Gundog Certificates

Working Gundog Certificates

There are two working gundog certificates available to the working flatcoat. The first is the Shooting Dog Certificate formed by the Flatcoated Retriever Society’ and the second is the Kennel Club Working Gundog Certificate.

Shooting Dog Certificate (SDC)
With the following requirements in mind, the SDC was formed in 1981/82 by the late Amelia Jessel for the Flatcoated Retriever Society;

Dogs must be able to;
  1. Retrieve tenderly to hand a number of head of game live or dead.
  2. Hunt and pick game from open ground or any cover normally encountered on a shoot.
  3. Retrieve fur or feather.
  4. Be steady and quiet whilst sitting in line at a drive.
  5. Walk reasonably to heel.
  6. Readily enter water and swim.
  7. Be under reasonable control throughout the day.
In the late 1970’s it was noted by the working fraternity that inherent faults, like hard mouth and whining, were becoming more prevalent in the flatcoat. At the time, the only way of testing for these characteristics, was through field trials, in which very few flatcoats were entered. Otherwise the average shooting person was completely reliant on the ‘honesty and integrity’ of neighbouring flatcoat owners as to the reliability of their dogs in the field. Hence the introduction of the SDC. It was hoped that this would then provide a list of flatcoats with the above requirements and inherent characteristics, that could then be used in the breeding programme.

The SDC days are organised by the Flatcoated Retriever Society when there are enough dogs entered and are held on a shoot. The dogs are assessed throughout the entire time and not just as individual dogs are working. There are two possible passes;

A certificate – this is awarded if the dog has remained steady off the lead throughout the day.

B certificate – this is awarded if the dog has been unsteady off the lead, but has been allowed to complete the day on the lead and has passed all the above requirements.

The SDC days take a lot of time effort and money to organise, so only dogs that pick up on a shoot, should consider being entered. The dogs owner/handler must also be honest with themselves, as to the biddability, soft mouth and noise level of their dog. To enter a whining or hard mouthed dog would result in a fail and would be unfair to the organisers and the other handlers and dogs.

If you are interested in the SDC or require further details see the Flatcoated Retriever Society website or contact the Society Field Trial Secretary.

Kennel Club Working Gundog Certificate (KCWGC)
The KCWGC was introduced more recently and is open to all KC registered gundogs. It was designed to show that the handler/gundog partnership, on a shoot day are competent in the following requirements;
  1. Control.
  2. Obedience.
  3. Temperament.
  4. Hunting in open ground and cover.
  5. Retrieving to hand. 

A day can be arranged through the Kennel Club by any gundog club, trainer or individual and there are three ways in which the certificate can be carried out.

A)  On a shoot using game, the dog and handler will be assessed on the day, carrying out tasks that normally occur on a shoot, the dog must be under control biddable and quiet. 

B)  Using dummies, where exercises are devised, simulating a shoot. Dogs must be able to walk reasonably to heel in a line; sit quietly at a peg; hunt for and retrieve a mark (seen dummy) and a blind (unseen dummy); retrieve from water and over an obstacle (tree trunk, fence or wall). 

C)  On a gundog working test, on dummies using the exercises available on the day. 


For the flatcoat owner who does not easily have access to a shoot or game, the test on dummies is a good way of finding out if your dog is actually competent enough, although it will not detect soft or hard mouth. Like the SDC a certain amount of training will be necessary before applying.

The added bonus of the KCWGC for the show enthusiast, is that a holder of this certificate is eligible to enter their dog at Crufts in the breed specific(flatcoat) Special Gundog working Class. So for those of you who have always wanted to take your dog to Crufts, but have missed out qualifying in the breed classes, why not start training towards the KCWGC.

Further information can be obtained from the Kennel Club and the KC website.
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