Whatever your interests – field trials, retrieving trials or general hunting – Golden Retrievers are the dogs for you.  Good field dogs are intelligent, challenging and fun to work with.  They give their all to please us.

The Golden Retriever’s inherited qualities such as birdiness, marking ability, love of water, intelligence, trainability, and intense (almost fanatical) retrieving desire are qualities paramount in a good working dog.

Retrieving Trials

Retrieving Trials are basically simulated versions of a day's shooting, where dogs are required to locate and retrieve fallen game.  The tests are designed to simulate as near as possible the conditions for which the dogs were bred.  Since trials are a simulation, no game is actually shot.   The retrieves performed are of varying degrees of difficulty according to the level of competition.  Gundogs are required to retrieve over land and across water and the retrieves can be sighted or blind (unseen).

The function of a retriever is to find and retrieve ‘fallen’ game under all conditions when ordered to do so.  He should walk at heel and sit quietly on command, and when sent, should retrieve briskly and deliver gently to hand.  Dogs are judged for their natural abilities, including memory, intelligence, attention, nose, courage, perseverance and style, as well as for the skills acquired through training, including steadiness, control, responses to direction, and delivery, and the ability to retrieve under all conditions.  Game must not be retrieved without having been ordered to do so.  Game must not be damaged.  A dog, which has all of these attributes, is of great value to its handler and a credit to his breed.

Marked and Blind Retrieves

In competition at the starting point the handler must fire a shotgun armed with blanks while his dog remains at his side.  At the same time a bird is thrown into the air.  The dog must remain steady.

On a marked retrieve the dog is expected to mark the line and depth of the fall of the bird and when instructed by the handler, take as straight a line as possible and complete the exercise without further instruction from the handler.  For a blind retrieve a bird is hidden from view of the dog, however the handler knows the placement.  On a blind retrieve the dog must obey their handler by taking a line to the bird, by stopping to the whistle to take direction to the right or left, back or return.  The handler of the dog is also being judged and must not touch his dog or exhibit unsportsmanlike conduct.

The dog must then retrieve the bird and return to the handler, allowing the handler to take the bird from his mouth.  Each stake has certain runs that must be completed.  Marks are awarded for good work and performance by the dog, but the handler can lose this advantage by using excessive commands and direction.


A Retrieving Trial is open to all breeds of Gundogs.  Trials consist of four Stakes with graduated degrees of difficulty and eligibility requirements for the dog.  The first level, or Beginners Stake, includes two runs with marks of 50 to 60 metres, one across water and one on land over natural obstacles.

Novice Stake

The Novice Stake has three runs.   Each is a mark of about 80 metres; one on land, one across water, and another in water, with natural obstacles to test marking ability.  The first time that a dog completes all three retrieves it is eligible for a Qualifying Certificate (QC).   When a dog has won three Novice Stakes he earns the title of Novice Retrieving Dog (NRD) and he must compete at the next level of competition.

Restricted Stake

The next level is the Restricted Stake, which has runs of about 80 metres but may include up to two birds on each run and may include such things as 'double rises' and 'walk-ups'.  Dogs must always pick up each bird in the order directed by the judge.  When a dog has won three of these stakes he is awarded the title of Restricted Retrieving Dog (RRD) and he must compete in All Age.

All Age Stake

In the All-Age Stake, a dog must complete three runs with up to three-birds in each run.  Distances may be up to 150 metres and the runs are more testing and complex than before.  A dog is eliminated from competition if he fails to locate the bird in a reasonable time, or picks up any bird out of order.

The title of All Age Retriever Dog (AARD) is awarded to a dog who completes ten All Age Stakes under three different judges.  A Certificate of Merit (CM) can be awarded at the discretion of the judge to dogs competing in All Age Stakes who have performed with exceptional merit in all runs.  Dogs competing in Championship or National Championship Stakes who have performed with exceptional merit may be awarded a Diploma of Merit (DM).

The winner of an All Age event receives six championship points and when the dog has earned twelve championship points he is awarded the title of Retrieving Trial Champion.   A dog may trial for a long time to earn those elusive first places, and they are well deserved since the dog and handler must compete against 'titled' dogs, which can dominate the placings for years.

Grand Retrieving Champion Title

The title of Grand Retrieving Champion was introduced in 2005.  A Grand Retrieving Champion must earn 120 championship points to qualify for this title.  A dog and handler who have earned the title of Grand Retrieving Champion deserve our respect and admiration for their achievement.

Australian National Kennel Council Competition Rules


More Articles of Interest Below
Training Puppies
Encourage Your Puppy to Retrieve
Obedience in Retrieving
Training Your Dog to Gunshot
Training to Hold and Give
Training to Retrieve - Teaching the Recall
Training to Run Lines to Blinds




  Winterset Anzac