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NAVHDA is an origination that we strongly encourage anyone, at any training level experience, to look into. NAVHDA has over 85 chapters located in the US and Canada that are devoted to helping each other train dogs to hunt at the best of their potential. Along with helping you train your hunting dog NAVHDA gives you the option to evaluate your dog in noncompetitive test where dogs are judged to a set of standards in situations designed to simulate real-world upland and waterfowl hunting scenarios.


Natural Ability (NA) Test













Natural Ability Test Eligibility

Dogs are eligible for a Natural Ability Test until and including the day they reach 16 months of age. Dogs over 16 months may be tested for evaluation if space is available, but no prize classifications are awarded dogs tested for evaluation. No game is shot during the NA test , and no retrieves are required.  There is no set sequence for conducting the four general phases. 


The Natural Ability Test is organized into four main segments, or phases, as follows:

1.  Field Phase - The dog is hunted in cover where the presence of game has been assured by releasing of game birds.  Each dog is hunted for a minimum of 20 minutes and is evaluated on:

  • Use of Nose

  • Search

  • Pointing

  • Desire to Work

  • Cooperation

  • Gun Shyness

2.  Tracking Phase - The dog is given an opportunity to track a flightless running pheasant or chukar.  Each dog is judged on the following items:

  • Use of Nose

  • Tracking

  • Desire to Work

  • Cooperation

3.  Water Phase - The dog is tested for its willingness to swim.  The following items are judged during the water test:

  • Water Entry

  • Desire to Work

  • Cooperation


4.  Evaluation of Physical Attributes - Each dog's teeth, eyes, and coat are evaluated, typically after completion of the water phase. 


Utility Test (UT)












The Utility Test is divided into three main segments:

1) Field Group – Each dog is hunted for a minimum of 30 minutes and is evaluated on:

  • Search

  • Pointing

  • Steadiness on Game

  • Retrieve of Shot Bird

  • Retrieve of Dragged Game

2) Water Group

  • Search for a Duck

  • Walking at Heel

  • Remaining by Blind

  • Steadiness by Blind

  • Retrieve of a Duck

3) Evaluation of Physical Attributes - Each dog's teeth, eyes, and coat are evaluated, typically after completion of the water phase. 

The following are judged throughout the Utility Test:

  • Use of Nose

  • Desire to Work

  • Cooperation

  • Stamina

  • Obedience


Invitational Test (IT)











The NAVHDA Invitational is held annually in various locations throughout the central United States. The invited dogs have all performed at the highest level of competence in the NAVHDA Utility Test, demonstrating the full range of a true versatile hunting dog.

Many of the versatile breeds participate in this event and all dogs are judged according to the standards developed by NAVHDA over the past 50 years.

The test is divided into two groups: Field and Water.

  • Field work consists of field search, pointing, steadiness, backing and retrieving with the dogs being run in braces.

  • Water work consists of a blind retrieve, double-marked retrieve and honoring a retrieve.

Cooperation, obedience, desire and nose are judged throughout the entire test. 

Dogs successfully completing the Invitational Test with a passing score will receive the title of “Versatile Champion,” further recognized by placing VC before their names.

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