vom Wachtelkönig Kennels


A New Tradition of Fine Deutsch Drahthaars

Testing a Drahthaar


The Breed Tests (VJP and HZP) that occur a year after the puppy is born evaluate the natural abilities of the young puppy with regard to hunting and breeding potential. This provides feedback to the breeder on the success of his breeding. It is also one of the measures used by the Breed Warden to decide whether this dog can ultimately be certified for breeding. From the handler’s point of view the test provides a structure and a goal to work toward for training the puppy for its responsibilities as a hunting companion.

The Utility Test (VGP) is a two-day test that evaluates the ability of the fully trained dog in the field, water and forest. It can only be held in the fall of the year. The VGP can occur at any time in the dog’s life after the year it was whelped. Most handlers enter their dog in the VGP within two or three years of completing the HZP. A dog that has been trained for the VGP is a joy to hunt with. It is thorough in its search, staunch in pointing, and reliable as a retriever. It is fully obedient and can be trusted to work in the presence of other hunters and dogs. The handler can be confident of how this dog will behave in all hunting situations. The Blood Tracking Test (VSwP) further refines the ability of the mature dog to track wounded game.
The JGHV tests are not a competition among dogs. Each dog is evaluated according to a standard. The Judges want to see what the dog is capable of doing and strive to give it the best opportunity to demonstrate its ability in the test. Handlers are encouraged to ask questions and judges will try to guide the handler to show the dog to best advantage.

Each test is conducted by three Judges who are approved by JGHV, one of whom is designated the Senior Judge. The
judges make notes as they observe the dog work. At the end of each subject of the test they stop to discuss their evaluation of the dog and to reach consensus on a score for that part of the test. Subjects that are evaluated across several parts of the test (e.g., use of nose) are finalized at the end of the test. All of the dogs entered in the test are taken through a particular part of the test and are given a score for that subject before the judges move on to the next part of the test. Most judging teams use an open scoring system whereby they give the handlers feedback on the scores for their dogs before going on to the next part of the test.

Ethical hunting is highly valued by VDD and JGHV, with the goals of causing minimal pain and distress to the game and retrieving all shot game for the table. Consequently, the work of the dog after the shot is weighted somewhat more heavily in these tests.

In addition to performance in the field, water and forest, each dog is evaluated for gun sensitivity and overall temperament. A note will be made on the score sheet of any dog that is seen to have a serious temperament fault. A brief examination is made to identify any faults with bite, teeth, eyes or testicles, and an evaluation of the color, texture and density of the coat is noted.


Novice handlers should take every opportunity to attend scheduled tests and observe the procedure before they are due to enter their own dog. It is easier to understand what is expected when you actually see it. This also provides an opportunity to talk with more experienced handlers and get their advice. Often times this leads to opportunities to train and consult with other DD owners.

Test Regulations are available for each test and these should be read carefully well in advance of entering a test. Two booklets are available from the Business Manager: one for the Association Breed Tests (VZPO), which includes the VJP and HZP, and another for the Association Utility Test (VGPO). These booklets include information on the purpose, organization and execution of the test as well as the regulations for evaluating each of the subjects within the test. A sample score sheet is included so that you can see how each subject is weighted.

Another resource available to new handlers is access to articles that have previously appeared in Group North America’s newsletter regarding preparing for and running in the tests. The articles provide commentary by Association Judges, stories by other members regarding their experiences with preparing for and running in the tests, and reviews of useful training books and videos. Links to these articles and reviews will be included with the description of each test provided below.

The VJP is the first test that your puppy will enter. Puppies born in January-September will be tested in the following year, while puppies born in October-December will be tested in the year after that. For example, puppies born in January-September 2003 will be VJP tested in the spring of 2004, while puppies born in October-December 2003 will be VJP tested in the spring of 2005. This timeframe is the only opportunity for the dog to be tested at this level. A dog can be handled no more than twice in a VJP, with the exception of participation in the international tests.

The owner of an entered dog must be a member of a club affiliated with JGHV and must have a valid hunting license. Someone other than the owner may handle the dog during the test. A handler may not handle more than two dogs at a breed test. A test entry form (Formblatt 1), a copy of the green pedigree document (Ahnentafel), and the test fee must be submitted to the Test Director prior to the deadline for admission to the test. On the day of the test, the owner must provide the original Ahnentafel and proof of rabies vaccination to the Test Coordinator. The dog cannot continue in the test without these documents having been presented.

A judging team can test no more than five dogs in one day in a VJP. At the beginning of the test the Senior Judge will give general instructions to the handlers and respond to any questions. Handlers will be told that they should feel free to ask questions throughout the test. In general they are told to handle their dog the way they normally would during hunting. The Judges will advise the handler if he is doing something they don’t want.

During the test all dogs are expected to be kept on a lead away from the test activity except when they are being tested or when the Judges otherwise advise the handler. The dogs are tested individually on all subjects.

At the beginning of each segment of the test a Judge will advise the handler on the procedure about to take place and give an opportunity for questions. That Judge will stay with the handler, while the other two Judges may observe from different vantage points. Each dog will be given multiple opportunities to demonstrate its natural abilities.

In the VJP the dog is evaluated on Tracking, Nose, Search, Pointing, and Cooperation. The Test Regulations describe how these subjects will be evaluated and the weight that each will be given in the overall score. In addition, an evaluation is given for gunshot soundness, and the manner of hunting and any behavioral or conformation faults are noted.

Important Note: As of 2001 the VDD Breeding Regulations require that a dog must have a tracking score of at least SUFFICIENT in order to be certified for breeding. The only test where this can be achieved is the VJP, so entry in this test is mandatory for those who think they may want to qualify their dog for breeding. There will be no exceptions to this requirement.

While the VJP is indeed a test of natural ability, this does not mean that no preparation of the dog is required. In order to demonstrate this natural ability in each of the subjects the dog must have been exposed to similar conditions to awaken that ability. This means giving your puppy the opportunity to explore various cover and to come into contact with various game during its first year. A good resource for preparing for the VJP is the Drahthaar Puppy Manual by Roger Smith and Nancy Bohs.


A dog will be entered in the HZP in the fall immediately following its VJP. Again, a dog can only be handled twice in an HZP, with the exception of participation in the international tests (e.g., Armbruster or Hegewald). The entrance requirements and the judging methods are the same as for the VJP.

The HZP further evaluates the natural ability of the hunting dog now that its training in the field and water is largely complete. The subjects to be tested are Nose, Search, Pointing, Cooperation, Desire to Work, Water Work, Retrieving, and Obedience. The Test Regulations describe how these subjects will be evaluated and the weight that each will be given in the overall score. In the US and Germany an opportunity may be provided for a hare track at the HZP. This option is generally not available at the Canadian tests.

The standard for the performance of the dog in Nose, Search, Pointing, and Cooperation is higher in the HZP than it was in the VJP. The HZP also evaluates Obedience and requires that the dog do Water Work, which includes a Blind Retrieve from dense cover and a Search behind the Live Duck in densely vegetated water. At this time a marked retrieve in the water will be conducted during which a shotgun is fired into the water to again assess whether the dog is Gun Shy or Gun Sensitive. In the field the dog will be evaluated on the retrieve of game from two drags — one of feathered game (pheasant) and one of furred game (rabbit). The drag of the rabbit is at least 300 m, well out of sight of the handler. This provides an opportunity to assess the reliability of retrieve. A score for Manner of Retrieve will be compiled from the combination of retrieves from water and the field. As in the VJP, the manner of hunting and any behavioral or conformation faults are also noted by the Judges.

While preparation for the VJP consisted primarily of exposure to various cover and game, preparation for the HZP involves a significant amount of training. The training, of course, is consistent with the preparation you would normally do to prepare your dog for hunting; however, this training needs to be done to the standard of the test, which may be more stringent than your own expectations of your dog in the field or water.
A notable area of training for the HZP is in the area of retrieving. As previously indicated, the JGHV testing system weights the work of the dog after the shot more heavily due to its importance in game conservation. No game should be lost! Therefore your dog must be a reliable retriever regardless of the type of game or where it may be found. To achieve this high level of retrieving most handlers will follow a “trained retrieve” method of preparation — sometimes called forced retrieving or force fetch. Following are some good sources of information about this method of training, with links to further information:

• Trained Retrieve: Part I – HOLD and Part II – FETCH, videos by Jim Dobbs.
• The Training and Care of the Versatile Hunting Dog, book by Sigbot Winterhelt and Edward D. Bailey. Available via NAVHDA
• Training the Sporting Dog, book by Donald Smith and Ervin E. Jones.

Water Work is another area of training that might require extensive work. During the marked retrieve where gun sensitivity is assessed the dog is expected to enter the water within one minute of being started or it will be disqualified. In the blind retrieve and the search behind the duck, the dog must be seen to use the wind, widen its search pattern and persist in its search until it retrieves the duck or is called in. It is not uncommon for dogs to be reluctant to enter the water or to give up the search prematurely. While the handler can help and direct his dog, constant influencing or stone throwing lessens the score. These issues should be dealt with well before the test.

Note: The duck must be retrieved during the blind retrieve. It is not necessary that the dog locates and retrieves the duck in the search behind the live duck. However, if the dog does come into contact with the duck, then it must retrieve it.

Newsletter articles on preparing for the HZP provide insight into the various subjects of the HZP. Another good resource for preparing for the HZP is the Drahthaar Puppy Manual by Roger Smith and Nancy Bohs.


A dog that has passed the VGP is part of an elite group. This two-day test provides a rigorous evaluation of the fully trained dog in the field, forest, and water. In contrast to the VJP and HZP, which evaluate the natural ability of the dog, this test evaluates the performance of the dog in each subject — performance that has been developed through training and actual hunting experience. Obedience plays a significant role in bringing the dog to this point and the dog’s level of obedience is evaluated from the moment that the test begins to the very end of the test.

The VGP is always held in the fall. A dog cannot be entered in the VGP in the same year that it was whelped, and it cannot be handled more than two times in a VGP (with the exception of an international test). While there are no further restrictions on the age of the dog, the rigors of the test are such that it does not make sense to prepare a dog too early. Some very experienced trainers will enter a particularly promising dog in the VGP in the same year that it has completed the HZP, but that is by far the exception. Most trainers and dogs benefit from additional maturity and training and will wait another 1-2 years to attempt the test.

The VGP tests the dog again in the field and water, but to a higher standard than the HZP. E.g., the dog is expected to be steady on point until released for the retrieve, or to be able to work a running pheasant without flushing it (called manners behind game). Another area of evaluation in the VGP is the dog’s work in the forest. This category of testing reflects the style of hunting in Europe and the manner in which they use their dogs to conserve game and manage their reviers (hunting preserves). The dog is evaluated on how it searches in the dense cover of a forest and on how well it covers a forested area to drive game out to the hunters stationed on the perimeter. It is expected to retrieve a dead fox of at least seven pounds and bring it over an obstacle 70-80 cm high. And it is expected to track the blood of a wounded deer 400 m to the carcass and to remain unattended by the deer for several minutes without damaging the meat. For extra points a dog can demonstrate its ability to bay or otherwise guide the hunter to the deer once it has been located. Obedience is specifically tested during a simulated drive hunt, heeling on and off leash, steadiness to wing and shot, and when shots are fired with the dog in the down/stay position. At all times the dog is expected to be under the complete control of the handler.

The forest work in particular is something new to many of us in North America and requires a significant amount of training. The dog must learn not only to carry the weight of a fox of at least seven pounds, but also be willing to carry this animal from its own species, which it would normally avoid. The expectation is that the dog should reliably retrieve any dead game that it finds in the field, forest or water. The challenge in the blood track is not so much one of scenting as it is for the dog to settle down, concentrate and systematically work the scent. Only 0.25 liters of blood is used to lay the track over 400 meters, and it is aged for 2-5 hours. The dog will work on a leash, and the handler can assist the dog through his own observation of the blood.

As in the VJP and HZP, the manner of hunting and any behavioral or conformation faults are noted by the Judges. A dog entered in the VGP should be of extremely sound temperament, and a dog showing significant deficiency in this area will not pass the test. Gun shyness/sensitivity is again evaluated during the water work.

While the VJP and HZP were scored on a 12-point scale to allow a more precise evaluation within the categories of VERY GOOD, GOOD, SUFFICIENT, DEFICIENT AND INSUFFICIENT (scored as 0), the VGP is evaluated on a 4-point scale whereby the dog either performs to the full standard within the category or it does not. A dog that passes the test may be awarded a PRIZE I, PRIZE II, OR PRIZE III, which is determined by whether it meets minimum requirements in the various subjects. A dog that has worked to PRIZE I standard in most subjects, but has only met the PRIZE III standard in one subject will be assigned a PRIZE III overall.

It is extremely beneficial for a handler planning to enter a VGP to actually observe one being conducted, as it can be difficult to actually visualize what is expected and how it will be evaluated. This may be difficult for many members who are far from the testing sites, but it would be well worth the time and expense if at all possible. The less satisfactory alternative is to maintain ongoing telephone/e-mail contact with members who have done the test, can discuss their preparation and experience in the test, and help you troubleshoot your training methods.

In addition to the Test Regulations for the VGP, a good overall resource for VGP preparation is the booklet Preparing a Utility Dog by Larry Rogers, as well as a recent book Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer by John Jeanneney on that topic.


There are two advanced blood tracking tests that are now being held in North America — the 20-hour track and the 40-hour track — that evaluate the dog’s ability, determination and endurance for tracking wounded deer or boar. This is a specialty test and will be judged by Association Judges who have been specially trained in this subject.

A dog must be a minimum of 24 months old to enter this test. The dog may not be entered more than three times in the 20-hour test or three times in the 40-hour test. If a dog has had two successful completions of the test, it will not be allowed to enter for a third time.
These tests involve a longer and more aged blood track laid with the same amount of blood as that done in the VGP, and they are quite challenging. Few North American dogs have qualified in either or both tests.
There is a set of Test Regulations for these specialty tests that can be obtained from Director of Testing George Boyd. See the recommendations under the VGP for training resources.
The Hegewald and the Armbruster are international tests sanctioned by VDD rather than JGHV, as allowed under our agreement with JGHV. These fall tests modeled on the HZP are intended to showcase the best young dogs based on their prior performance at the VJP. A dog may be entered in both an HZP and one of these tests, but there are more stringent entry requirements for these two tests.
In general, to enter one of these tests the dog: 1) must be of the appropriate age for the HZP breed test; 2) must have passed the VJP with a minimum score of 65 and a minimum predicate of GOOD in all test subjects; 3) must be HD frei; 4) must have an HN Certificate; 5) must have a coat and conformation evaluation certifying that it is within the breed standard and would be rated at least GOOD/GOOD with an obvious beard; and must be certified by a Judge to have demonstrated tolerance of gunfire while in water and shown a willingness to freely enter water without the presence of game. For information on the current requirements and procedures to enter one of these tests, contact George Boyd, Director of Testing. Entry deadlines are usually mid to late summer, but HD and HN Certification, Coat and Conformation Evaluation, and Water Work Evaluation will need to be completed prior to that time to meet the deadline.
Dogs entered in the Hegewald or Armbruster participate in both an HZP and a Breed Show. The dogs are tested over two days, with one day devoted to the HZP field work and the other day to the HZP water work and the Breed Show. Different teams of judges evaluate the dog in each venue and then collate the scores at the end of the test. Consensus between teams will be reached regarding scores that are based on work done in both the field and water, such as use of Nose. The final score is determined by adding the final HZP score (field and water work) to the average of the individual scores for Coat and Conformation. The dogs are then ranked according to their combined scores. It is very prestigious for a dog to place high in the ranking of either of these tests.
Both of these tests are gala events scheduled over three days. In addition to the testing, there are a Parade of Dogs and various educational seminars scheduled. Social events are planned for each day, culminating in a banquet and award ceremony on the last day. It is a festive occasion, with the opportunity to see excellent dogs and meet the best trainers and breeders.