Copyright © 1996-2024, The
American Hunting Dog Club

To be eligible to enter the MHD test, a dog must have qualified as a THD. The test will evaluate nine (9) categories of work:

Hunting CompatibilityMultiple Land Retrieves
Honor Point/FlushSearch Far Shore for Cripple
Honor Land RetrievesCall Off Game
Pick Up Dead/CrippleWork from Boat/Canoe
Flush on Command

General Comments

The purpose of the MHD test is to give the truly outstanding hunting dog the opportunity to demonstrate what is possible when he is properly prepared. It also gives his handler the opportunity to have his personal gun dog evaluated after all of those hours of training and hunting.

Since this is an evaluation of a hunting dog, the handler will carry a gun at all times and will shoot birds when proper to do so. Hunting clothes will be worn and hunting gear will be used.

All retrieves must be presented cleanly to hand. The dog must show that he knows how to use the wind. He must understand and compensate for wind drift, tides, or river currents on marked retrieves. On blind retrieves, the handler should give a line that compensates for various drifts and wind conditions.

Only voice, whistle and hand commands are permissible. The dog must show a strong desire to please and happiness in his work. Similarly, the handler should show his pleasure in the dog's work as he would while hunting.

Whenever a "brace-mate" is required, it will be a dog of the same sex and with which the dog has not hunted. The "brace-mate" will never be under judgment.

Hunting Compatibility

As most hunting is not done alone, a dog must be able to hunt with a "brace-mate" and conduct himself properly. The dog must hunt his own ground, without trailing, attempting to intimidate or fighting with his "brace-mate." Most importantly, he must honor his brace-mate's work.

The "brace-mate" should be a staunch pointer or a good flusher as required, steady, and a good retriever. There will be a normal hunt except that the tested dog will be worked for an opportunity to contact dead game which will be planted prior to the start of the test. The honoring work and flushing on command will be evaluated when appropriate opportunities arise.

Honor Point/Flush

One of the most enjoyable experiences while hunting is the sight of your dog flawlessly honoring another dog's work. A flushing dog must honor flush by sight only, no cautions or commands may be given. The handler's concentration must be on the bird as he may have to shoot and he must mark the fall.

A dog must honor point by sight only. There must be no cautions or commands given and no game bird scent involved. The honoring dog must not interfere with his "brace-mate" or the bird. After the dog has honored the point, the team will move up, flush, and shoot the bird. The handler's concentration must be on the pointing dog, the flush, the shooting, and the fall. The handler will maintain the mark until the bird is picked up by the dog.

It is essential that a finished dog honor his "bracemate's" retrieving. Besides the pleasure that it adds to the hunt, it prevents damage to game and eliminates a possible cause of antagonism between dogs. The dog must honor without restraint from the handler.

Pick Up Dead Game

A well trained hunting dog should retrieve any dead game encountered while hunting. Of necessity this must be done without a command as the handler does not know that the game is there. After the game has been picked up and the dog starts to the handler, an encouraging fetch may be given to finish the retrieve properly. A seasoned dog should not point or hesitate but move in quickly and pick up the game.

Flush On Command

There are many times, when hunting in heavy cover, that the only hope for a shot will be if the dog flushes the bird on command after the gunner gets into the best possible shooting position. This primarily applies to pointing dogs. But it may also be helpful when hunting with flushing dogs.

The pointing dog will be hunted as usual. After a point is established, the dog will be commanded to flush. The dog should stop to flush without command, although, a single command is permissible.

If the flushing dog is working game in cover that precludes a shot because of the gunner's position, the handler should stop the dog during his charge to flush. After the gunner gets into better position to shoot, the dog can then be commanded to flush. He should stop to flush without command, although, a single command is permissible.

The cover should retard the dog's movement but allow the bird to flush cleanly. The bird should be shot so that the dog gets the reward of a retrieve.

Multiple Land Retrieves

This test is to simulate a dove hunt or a field goose hunt. The multiple land retrieve sequence will require three retrieves: a 100-yard mark, a diversion bird as the dog returns with the marked retrieve, and a blind.

The first retrieve will be the 100-yard mark. The thrower will be out of sight. When the bird is in the air the handler will shoot at it. The dog will be sent to retrieve and as the dog is returning, a diversion bird will be flown and shot. The dog should mark the shot and fall. A caution may be issued at this stage of the sequence if needed. The dog must not drop the first bird or retrieve, or attempt to retrieve, both birds at once. After he has properly delivered the first bird, the dog will be sent to retrieve the diversion bird. The dog will be penalized if any commands are needed to control it due to the shooting of the diversion bird.

The bird used for the blind retrieve will have been set prior to the start of this test and will be downwind of the line to the marked and diversion birds. The dog will then be sent for the blind retrieve.

Search The Far Shore

At times it is necessary to send a dog across open water to retrieve from the far shore. This may happen during upland hunting or during waterfowl hunting, and quite often, the bird has not been killed. Therefore, the dog must be able to search for the bird after he has been sent to the fall area.

A minimum of one hundred (100) yards of open water or water with reasonable emergent growth is required. A drag will be laid starting ten to twenty-five (10-25) yards beyond the far shore depending on cover. The drag will be laid for about 100 yards in a direction away from the shore with a slight bend in the trail. The dog will be left out of sight and the handler will walk to the water. The handler will be given the mark for the start of the drag and he will fire one shot toward the mark.

The dog will be called up and sent for the retrieve. Only voice, whistle, and hand signals are acceptable. If the dog reaches the far shore and comes back to the near shore without the bird, he fails the test.

Call Off Game

There are many reasons why a hunter should be able to call a dog off game. The most important, of course, is his safety. A duck will be thrown, the handler will fire at it, and the dog will be sent to retrieve. When the dog is in pursuit, the judge will tell the handler to call the dog off. When the dog has accepted the call-off and is on his way to the handler, the judge will signal for the duck to be shot. The dog will then be sent to retrieve the bird.

Boat/Canoe Work

As much waterfowl hunting is done from boats and canoes, a complete dog should be able to work from either properly. He must remain in the boat quietly so that he does not interfere with shooting. On retrieves he must leave and enter the boat without undue problems. He must stay out of the way while traveling and setting decoys. Two retrieves and two re-entries to the boat are required. One duck will be placed on open water and the other on land or in emergent growth high enough to hide the duck.

The test starts with the dog, handler and one (1) judge on the shore. The handler, judge, and dog will get into the boat. The handler will row it to the decoy spread where he will add three (3) or more decoys. When everyone is settled, several shots will be fired from shore near the other judges, and the handler will fire two shots while the judge uses a call.

After everyone is again settled, two ducks will be thrown and the handler will fire at both. The order of retrieve will be at the discretion of the handler. The minimum distance for a retrieve is 50 yards.

Honor Water Retrieves

The purpose of this test is to evaluate the dog's calmness and steadiness at the blind during calling, shooting, and while honoring another dog's retrieving. A blind will be set up and a sizable spread of duck and goose decoys set out. The test dog will be out side of the blind where he cannot see his handler. The "brace-mate" will be conveniently placed. The two hunters and a judge will go into the blind and start calling sufficiently to test the dog's calmness. At a signal from the judge, three (3) birds will be thrown: two (2) on the side of the "brace-mate" and one (1) on the side of the test dog about forty (40) yards out. The distance is not critical. The handlers will stand and each shoot twice. The handler of the test dog will stay in the blind. The "brace-mate" will be sent to retrieve. After receiving the first bird he will be sent for the second. When he is on his way the test dog will be sent to retrieve the third bird. The handler should operate from inside the blind, with the dog outside, where he was originally placed.