Field Qualification Test in a nutshell

Field qualification test (NOU) measures natural retrieving skills and temperament regarding the breed standard. It is the ticket to the other official field tests, such as cold game field trials (NOME-B) and working tests (NOWT). In Finland all retrievers must also pass this test in order to become a Finnish Champion. Dog has to be 9 months or older to participate, and it can participate until it passes the test.

There are four different parts in the field qualification test: social behaviour, water marks, free search and track. So if the dog gets along with other people and dogs, naturally finds and retrieves game from both water and land, works together with its handler and is not afraid of shots, it can easily pass the test. 

  1. Social behaviour 
    In the beginning all participating dogs are gathered together, and the judge greets them individually. The main purpose is to see how dogs behave with strange people and near other dogs of both gender. This part is usually very easy for all retrievers.
  2. Water marks
    From this part on dogs work individually. Dog is in leash during the throws and shots. All game is so called cold game, stored in a freezer and then melted to the room temperature for the test.
    First a seagull is thrown from the shore to the open water, distance is ca. 5 meters. When dog has retrieved this bird, another seagull is thrown from the rowing boat with a shotgun shot from the shore. Distance is ca. 20-30 meters. When dog has retrieved this bird too, it continues immediately to the next part.
  3. Free seach
    Five crows are placed in the area of ca. 50 meters x 50 meters in advance. The sixth crow is thrown with a shotgut shot. Dog must independently move in the area, search the birds, pick them up and bring them back to the handler. Handler is not allowed to go into the search area or give any other commands than "search" (or similar) while the dog is working in the area.
    The amount of birds dog has to retrieve is not determined, but depends on the way the dog works in the area. When the judge has seen enough, he gives an intermediate feedback and decides whether the dog advances to the final part.
  4. Track
    Finally dog has to follow a track of ca. 80 meters made with a rabbit and bring the rabbit from the end of the track to the handler. The beginning of the track is shown to the handler, and he can see the dog only in the beginning.
    Tracks are made at the end of the test to all dogs who have passed the first three parts. Finally, if the dog passes the track too, it passes the field qualification test and gets a diploma.


One example of a field qualification test (video: Smerikal)

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