Retriever Derby Basics

What are they?

The AKC Retriever Field Trial Derby is an event that pulls young dogs together and places them in contention for placements against the other dogs in the field. Pure and simple, this is a marking test, so no handling is allowed if a dog is to remain in contention. Each dog is compared to the other with the intent to show the first thru fourth placements of dogs.

A Derby is an event with four separate series (tests per say). Each series is typically a double marked retrieve, though there may be an occasional, rare single. Two of the series are on land with the other two incorporating water. The set-ups contain at least one shot live flier, mainly using ducks but some series will also utilize pheasants. Some series are run back to back; this is where you and your dog run the first series and if completed well enough, are then asked to run the second series back by invitation. However the set-up, a Derby is typically characterized by four completely separate doubles.


Who can compete?

There are three basic requirements for a dog to be in contention at an AKC Retriever Derby. (1) The dog must be an AKC registered dog. (2) The dog must be under the age of two in order to run, complete, and be in contention. (3) Must be of a specific breed. Any of the following AKC recognized retrieving breeds can compete:

– Chesapeake Bay Retriever

– Curly-Coated Retriever

– Flat-Coated Retriever

– Golden Retriever

– Labrador Retriever

– Irish Water Spaniel

– Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever


What is the purpose?

There are numerous reasons as to why most people run the Derby events. The main reasons are as follows:

(1) To amass as many points as possible. There is a pointing system involved that follows the current scale: 5 points for 1st place, 3 points for 2nd place, 2 points for 3rd place, and 1 point for 4th place. If a Derby dog attains 12 or more points by the time they age out, then the dog is placed on that years’ Derby list. The dog with the highest level of points throughout their Derby career is given “high point” Derby status.

(2) To qualify for the National Derby Championship (NDC). In order to compete in the NDC, a competing dog must attain at least 5 points in their Derby career and they must be less than 2 years old on the commencement of the first day of the first series of the NDC.

The last two reasons are closely related, but are still separate driving factors in the pursuit of running a Derby dog. (3) To see how their dog compares to the other dogs on the field. The Derby is an excellent way to see where your dogs stacks up to other dogs, and quite easily will provide you a tremendous amount of information on what to work on with your pup. (4) Because of their plain old competitive spirit. Some people are pure and simple competitors in everything they do. This is a very competitive game, and if you have the grit and determination to not quit and keep progressing through very difficult training, then just maybe you’ll be a possible contender in the Derby.

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