Sporting Dogs

Sporting Dogs, also sometimes called Bird Dogs or Gun Dogs, are naturally energetic and alert. They enjoy the outdoors and benefit from an active lifestyle. They can be excellent companion dogs. In addition to actual bird hunting, sporting dogs commonly participate in field trials, hunting tests, conformation shows, obedience, rally, agility, tracking, dock diving, barn hunt, and lure coursing events.

There are multiple organizations in the U.S. that sponsor activities specifically focused on bird dogs. 

MSDA is most closely associated with the American Kennel Club (AKC). Founded in 1884, the AKC currently registers at least 200 breeds of which more than 30 are in the Sporting Group. A list of AKC Sporting Group breeds is at Click on any of the breeds to learn more and, at the bottom of each breed’s page, you will find a link to the AKC national club for that breed. (Individuals do not directly join AKC: it is a “club of clubs”.) MSDA is licensed by the AKC to run sporting group dog shows, all-breed obedience & rally trials and spaniel hunt tests. Despite the name, many of the “flushing” breeds participating in spaniel hunt tests are not spaniels. Lists of breeds eligible to participate in AKC hunt tests are available for pointing, retrieving, and spaniel tests. Hunt tests are not competitive events – each dog is scored individually and ribbons, and potentially titles, are awarded to all dogs with qualifying scores. The AKC also sponsors field trials for pointing and retrieving breeds and for spaniels

The United Kennel Club (UKC) was founded in 1898 and recognizes over 370 breeds, nearly twice as many as AKC. The UKC’s Gun Dog group includes more than 60 breeds. The UKC sponsors events and issues titles for a wide variety of activities including: agility, conformation, dock jumping, lure coursing, nosework, obedience and rally as well as hunting activities for coonhounds, beagles, hunting retrievers, upland hunting, shed (deer antler) hunting and for cur & feist (hunting by treeing game). Many MSDA members have earned titles on their dogs with the UKC as well as the AKC.

Three other dog sport organizations that are of particular interest to bird dog families are:

  • Hunting Retriever Club (HRC). Founded in 1984, the HRC is “conceived by hunters for hunters”. HRC events are open to all breeds in the UKC’s Gun Dog group.
  • North American Hunting Retriever Association (NAHRA). NAHRA is a relatively smaller organization, based locally but with a national distribution of clubs. Focused initially on waterfowl hunting, upland hunting events and titles were added in 2014.
  • North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA). NAVHDA recognizes breeds that “possess the versatility required to locate, point, and retrieve upland game, find and retrieve wounded waterfowl, and serve as well-mannered companions in the home”. Many MSDA members with pointing breeds also participate in NAVHDA activities.