In the early history of the show world, all gundog champions were required to pass a working qualification.
By the 1950s, with the increased popularity of shows, the numbers of potential champions on the bench were growing and the opportunity and/or necessity to gain a working qualification at field trials was declining.
Therefore, the title of show champion came into being, but to achieve full champion status the dog still needed to qualify at a field trial either with an award, COM or by passing the Show Gundog Working Certificate (SWGC).
To provide credible proof of the natural working ability of a gundog registered with The Kennel Club that has already proved it meets The Kennel Club's breed standard by a qualification in the show ring.
Whilst the judges on the day are looking for natural working ability, for retrieving breeds it is expected that your dog has had experience of handling freshly shot game, will retrieve from water, and is not afraid of gunfire. It is also important that your dog is under sufficient control to undertake the test once the lead is removed.
Etiquette and conduct
There is an established code of conduct expected at field trials and this applies equally to Show Gundog Working Certificate days. Participants should be aware that it is a privilege, and not a right, to be present and to take part, and shall not openly impugn the decision of the judge or judges or criticise the host, ground or guns.
All judges, stewards and other helpers, entrants, supporters and spectators must be courteous to and co-operative with the host and the steward of the beat, (who will usually be the gamekeeper), and should fall in willingly with their arrangements to achieve the best result possible in an atmosphere of friendliness and confidence.
It is expected that those attending these events will dress appropriately. While there are no specific dress requirements, it is suggested that clothing worn should be suitable for the shooting field, warm, waterproof and unobtrusive. Brightly coloured clothing should be avoided.
The production of game to the guns is not assisted by noise, and those present should conduct themselves quietly and ensure that no unnecessary disturbance is created which might disturb game.
Before entering for this certificate, always refer to The Kennel Club's regulations J(F)2 and J(F)3 to ensure that your dog has the correct qualification and decide which method of achievement would be best suited to you and your dog.
This regulation states: a gundog which has a challenge certificate or previously qualified for Crufts through a breed class may be entered for a Show Gundog Working Certificate at a field trial or a show gundog working day for its sub-group, licensed by The Kennel Club, with a minimum of two judges officiating, of which at least one must be an A-panel judge.
Judges must be aware that the principal purpose of the Show Gundog Working Certificate is to assess whether a dog demonstrates a natural ability to hunt and, where appropriate, point and retrieve, and they should take care to judge accordingly.
How to enter
At a field trial
The permission of the society holding the trial must be obtained and the dog must be entered on the entry form of the meeting. The fee charged by the society should be the same as that for the dogs entering the trial.
At a show gundog working day
These are organised by a number of registered societies in the UK and are run entirely for the purpose of show gundogs to achieve the SGWC. In recent years the number of these days has gradually increased along with training days aimed particularly at this certificate.
Any society registered with The Kennel Club authorised to hold field trials may apply for permission to run a show gundog working day. A secretaries checklist for running a show gundog working day is available free of charge from The Kennel Club field trials department.
Clubs presently organising show gundog working days:
- Brittany Club Of Great Britain
- Clwyd Retriever Club
- Eastern Counties Golden Retriever Club
- Flatcoated Retriever Society
- German Wirehaired Pointer Club
- Golden Retriever Club
- Golden Retriever Club Of Northumbria
- Hungarian Vizsla Club
- The Kennel Club Labrador Retriever Club
- Labrador Retriever Club Of Wales
- Large Munsterlander Club
- Midland English Springer Spaniel Society
- Northumberland and Durham Labrador Retriever Club
- United Spaniel Association
- Utility Gundog Society
- Weimaraner Association
- Welsh Springer Spaniel Club Of South Wales
- Yellow Labrador Club
These days may not be held every year, as they are dependent upon demand and availability of grounds. The Kennel Club board has also confirmed that Pointers and Setters should be able to take the SGWC at future pointing breeds training days.
Method of achievement
The granting of a Show Gundog Working Certificate will be at the discretion of the judges at the meeting, and two judges, one of whom must be an A-panel judge, must sign the certificate.
Before doing so, they must be satisfied that the dog has fulfilled these requirements.
(a) The dog has been tested in line
(b) The dog has shown that it is not gun shy
(c) For a Retriever, that it hunted for, and found, dead or wounded game, faced cover, and retrieved tenderly
(d) For a Spaniel, that it hunted, faced cover, produced game and retrieved tenderly
(e) For a Pointer or Setter, that it hunted and pointed game
(f) For a hunt, point and retrieve breed, that it hunted, pointed game, and retrieved tenderly
(g) For all retrieving breeds, that the dog entered water freely, swam and retrieved. (If a natural retrieve from water is not possible, then a dummy may be used. If suitable water is not available the dog is permitted to undertake a special water test on a separate date at a separate location recognised by the issue of a certificate, to be signed by two field trial panel judges one of whom must be on the A panel)
(h) The dog has not whined or barked in line (subject to the breed standard)
(i) The dog has been under reasonable control
However you decide to attain the certificate, at a field trial or a show gundog working day, there will always be two judges assessing the work of your dog, at least one of whom will be on the A panel.
If a dog passes the test to the satisfaction of these judges, a certificate will be issued on the day, signed by the judges and the secretary of the society. This will be sent to The Kennel Club to be recorded for inclusion in The Kennel Club Stud Book for that year and the certificate will be returned to the owner of the dog. (If the water element has not been undertaken, please read further below about the water test, in which case the certificate will be held by The Kennel Club until completion of the water element.)
If suitable water is not available for the retrieving breeds at a field trial or show gundog working day, show gundogs will be permitted to undertake a special water test on a separate date and at a separate location. This will be recognised by the issue of a separate water certificate, to be signed by two field trial panel judges, one of whom must be on the A panel and sent to The Kennel Club to be recorded, in order that the dog can be given its complete Show Gundog Working Certificate.
Important additional guidance notes
Whilst the judges on the day are looking for natural working ability, for retrieving breeds it is expected that your dog has had experience of freshly shot game and to particularly note that:
- Dogs which make a noise will not pass the certificate (subject to the breed standard)
- A reasonable amount of control is expected at the discretion of the judges
- The term 'champion' [full champion] must not be confused with the term 'dual champion'. A dual champion is a dog that has become a champion in the show ring and a field trial champion, which in recent years has become quite a rare occurrence
However, the acquisition of the Show Gundog Working Certificate does indicate that a qualified dog has retained its working ability with prestigious recognition in The Kennel Club Stud Book.
For further help and information on these certificates and gundog training opportunities, please email the gundogs team or phone 020 7518 1059.