Spring Pointing Tests (SPT) and Grouse Pointing Tests (GPT) are usually held during March and April when the partridges or grouse have paired up ahead of the breeding season. The tests are typically held on spring crops, open ground with some cover or moorland.

The aim of these tests is to assess a dog’s natural working ability, with emphasis on hunting and pointing game. Junior dogs (over 6 months and under 2 years old on the 1st January of the year the test is held) get preference in the draw if the test is oversubscribed.

Each dog is given a minimum of 10 minutes to run (any faults in the first minute faults are ignored, but positive aspects regarded, to allow the dog to “settle down”). The dog is required to hunt the ground within the beat as described to the handler by the judges. Junior dogs are usually run into the wind and expected to quarter the ground (ideally going out at least 50 metres either side of the handler) so as not to miss any birds.

If a dog does not point birds – grouse on a GPT, partridge (and pheasant for junior dogs only) on an SPT – on its first run the judges may decide to give the dog a second run provided it has not displayed any of the faults or eliminating faults

Pointing Test Guidelines

(Partridge & Pheasant)


The emphasis of these tests is on the natural working ability of the dog on open ground, assessing ground treatment, hunting and pointing with an element of steadiness. Spring Pointing Tests are an evaluation of potential in a pointing dog. Dogs are to be run and graded as individuals and not in competition against other dogs. No collars of any type may be worn by dogs whilst running.


The Tests are to be judged in two age categories:

Junior – For dogs of 6 months of age on the day of the test and under 2 years of age on 1st January in the year of the test, to be judged on partridge and pheasant, ground game being judged for steadiness only.

Adult – For dogs over 2 years of age on the 1st January in the year of the test, to be judged on partridge only with all other game being judged for steadiness only.

Basic Requirements

Each dog shall run singly into the wind, quartering a beat of at least 100 metres on open ground.

Each dog shall be run for a minimum of 10 minutes before being considered for grading.

Each dog will be allowed one minute to settle unless out of control.

Dogs are required to hunt, point, and hold game and flush on command.

Each dog graded is to be given a verbal critique by the Judges and an Assessment Certificate at the end of the day.


The ideal pattern is when the dog is searching for game and is completely in tune with the handler. The dog should hunt with drive, purpose, and with good pace, ranging wide, always turning into the wind and covering its ground with style. All game birds on its beat should be pointed and all other game honoured.


  • Good ground treatment/regular pattern
  • Turning into wind
  • Natural ability to hunt without intervention
  • Game finding
  • Good Pace*
  • Correct head carriage*
  • Steadiness to flush
  • Quiet handling

*When considering these aspects judges must take into account the individual styles of the different breeds.

Assessment of EXCELLENT

The dog must work to the ideal pattern and exhibit all credits.

 Assessment of VERY GOOD

The work must be close to the ideal pattern without any persistent faults.

 Assessment of GOOD

The work must be of a good standard showing natural aptitude.

Judging Notes

Dog to quarter with its nose on the wind with correct head carriage, enabling it to make contact with game scent.

Quartering and turning on each flank into the wind.

Spending little or no time on ground or residual scent, giving only an indication of its presence.

Positive indication of game, ideally holding until handler is in close contact and working forward with determination to final point. With correct head carriage, the dog should directly flush, not losing contact and not foot scenting the game.

Positive flush of game with dog steady. Game not to be chased in flight but exuberance quickly brought under control may be allowed for junior dogs.

A grading can be considered if birds flush off the dog’s point of their own accord when the handler is not in close contact.

Dogs that complete the card in their first run and are graded will not be required to run again. Only dogs of sufficient standard, which have not obtained a grading in their first run, are to be considered for a second run. Judges should not be tempted to run a dog a second time to try and upgrade it if they have been able to give it a grading in its first run.


  • Stickiness on point
  • Persistent false pointing
  • Persistent pointing of ‘larks’
  • Persistently casting back on the wind
  • Unsteadiness
  • Catching healthy game

Elimination Faults

  • Out of control
  • Failure to hunt or point
  • Not covering sufficient ground
  • Chasing game
  • Deliberately flushing game without pointing
  • Missing game birds on the beat
  • Whining or barking

Grouse Pointing Test Guidelines

The following deviations from the above Guidelines should apply for Pointing Tests on grouse moors:

Dogs should be run on open moorland and into the wind wherever possible, but the available ground and route of the day will determine this. Dogs should work with pace, drive, and determination. Credit should be given to dogs that point grouse (all species), snipe, and golden plover. Dogs should not be penalized for failing to point snipe or golden plover.