The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.
- Andy Rooney
Every passion has it’s lexicon. It’s one way to ensure clear communication. But it’s also a way to exclude outsiders, newcomers, competitors. I don’t buy the latter rationale. Instead, let’s level the linguistic playing field and help everyone enjoy our sport, our dogs and the wild places we go.
(This glossary is from my new book. If you find it useful, feel free to order What the Dogs Taught Me when it is published this summer.)
AA: All Age dog, as defined by AKC, competes in All Age stakes, which are open to a dog of any age. See All Age Stake.
AFC: Amateur Field Champion
AKC: American Kennel Club
AI: Artificial insemination
Air washed: A bird that has recently flown and landed, and thus has yet to leave much scent where it landed.
All Age Stake: Field trial competition open to all dogs of a specified breed or breeds without restriction as to the age of the dog, but which may be restricted by other conditions that are deemed necessary by the organizing club.
Alter: spay or neuter a dog. Also “fixed.”
American Field: Sporting dog association that tests and registers pointing dogs; publishes Field Dog Stud Book.
Automatic, semi-automatic: Shotgun with a magazine to hold extra shells, that is reloaded by a mechanical process activated by the recoil of the shot and can shoot another round with each trigger pull.
Avoidance training: Using voice, physical or electric training collar to dissuade a dog from certain behaviors, i.e., approaching snakes.
Back: dog stops upon seeing another dog’s point on game
Barrel: Lying on its side, often used to teach steadiness by placing the dog on the uneven or unsteady rounded side.
Biddable: Willing to take direction, easy to train.
Blinking: Briefly pointing a bird and then leaving it, or upon finding a bird avoiding retrieving it or purposely avoiding a bird altogether after catching scent.
Bob: Bobwhite quail
Bore: Shotgun muzzle measurement, often stated as “gauge” except for .410 caliber.
Brace: 1) Two dogs hunting the same area, often in field trial or hunt tests 2) pair of shot birds
Breakaway: A brace of dogs released simultaneously to begin a field trial run, usually commanded by the judge.
Broke dog: in most definitions, a dog that is steady to flush and will honor a bracemate’s point (back). Other definitions extend to steady-to-fall, or include retrieving.
Bust: To flush a bird or covey, usually done inadvertently by the dog
Bye dog: A dog braced with the dog competing in a hunt test or field trial, but not being judged. Used to ensure fairness as each dog must hunt at least part of the event with another dog.
Carding: Attaching a piece of cardboard to a bird’s leg with a cord, to slow down or shorten its flight. Used in training steadiness.
Chain gang: A long ground-level chain attached to two stakes, with dogs attached at to the chain at intervals between the stakes.
Checkcord: Long rope or similar item attached to a dog’s collar and used to direct or correct a dog
Command lead: Developed by pro trainer Delmar Smith, a lariat-type rigid rope-slip collar used to teach obedience and hunting commands by exerting gentle pressure on the dog’s neck or flanks.
Cover: Generally speaking, crops, brush or other vegetation often harboring game birds.
Cover dog: Any dog that commonly hunts heavy “cover” (forested, brushy habitat) for a hunter on foot. Historically applied to grouse and woodcock dogs and habitat, now expanding to virtually any dense vegetation and any breed that is used to hunt it.
Covert: 1) A likely bird-harboring spot; often in a woods or forest; also sometimes “cover” 2) Act of a dog breeding a bitch.
Covey: Group of birds, often a family or brood.
Crate: Box, cage or similar device to transport or house a dog
Cross dominance: A condition where one’s “off” eye is stronger than the one sighting down the shotgun barrel.
Derby Stake: Field trial competition for dogs between six months of age and no more than two years of age.
Deutsch Langhaar: German Longhaired Pointer.
DKV: Deutsch Kurzhaar Verband, German-based shorthair club.
Ditch parrot: Colloquial term for ringneck pheasant
Dock: to cut a dog’s tail to less-than-natural length.
Double: 1) Two birds that flush simultaneously; 2) Side-by-side or over-under shotgun; 3) act of shooting two birds or clay targets
Drilling: German term for a gun that has three barrels, usually one rifled barrel under two shotgun barrels
Fall: Shot game dropping to the ground
FC: Field Champion
Field Dog Stud Book (FDSB): A document published by the American Field Publishing Company in Chicago, registering many field-trial breeds including Setters and Pointers.
Field trial: A competition in which dogs are judged on ability and style in tracking, finding, coursing, or retrieving game.
Fix: Spay or neuter a dog. Also “alter.”
Flank: The part of a dog’s body just forward of his back leg.
Flush: 1) a bird taking off; 2) a dog or person forcing the bird to fly
Force broke: A dog that has been trained to retrieve through any number of force fetch methods is “force broke”
Futurity: A non-regular competition at field trials for young dogs that requires a series of nominations and associated fees prior to the date on which the Futurity is judged. These stages usually consist of nomination of the bitch after she is bred, nomination of the litter after it is whelped, and/or nomination of individual puppies from the litter.
Gauge: Size of a shotgun barrel’s diameter at the muzzle end.
Green broke: Often the same as a “started” dog, indicates some level of training in obedience and elementary hunting skills, usually including pointing. Alternate definition: “broken” in training but fails some aspects of a field trial or test.
Gunner: 1) a hunter; 2) term to describe designated shooters in a field trial.
Hack: To over-handle a dog, usually with a lot of unnecessary verbal or whistle commands.
Handler: The human who is hunting, training or otherwise running a dog.
Hard mouth: A dog has a hard mouth if it squeezes retrieved birds to the point they are mutilated.
Heel: Command word (and verb) when a dog walks alongside you “at heel,” head no further forward than your knee.
Hie on: A command to urge the dog on, start or resume hunting; used in hunting or in field trials.
Honoring: 1) stopping upon seeing another dog on point. Also “backing”; 2) standing or sitting still while another dog retrieves a shot bird or dummy.
Hun: Hungarian Partridge
Hunt dead: A command given to a dog to search a general area for a shot bird, rather than take a straight line to the point where it was known to land.
HRC: Hunting Retriever Club.
Hunting tests: Non-competitive field events for flushing breeds, retrieving breeds, and pointing breeds, where dogs are evaluated against a standard rather than ranked against other dogs as in a field trial.
Hup: Stop and sit at flush or upon command.
Instinctive: Shooting style where you quickly mount the shotgun and shoot, trusting “natural” hand-eye coordination to place the shot string into the bird’s trajectory (rather than lead, pull-through or other methods).
Intact: Not spayed or neutered.
Jip: Female dog. Also “gyp,” often refers to an unbred female among houndsmen.
JGHV: Jagdgebrauchshundverband e.V., the umbrella organization of all versatile hunting dog clubs in Germany.
Junior Hunter (JH): A suffix title conferred on dogs that have qualified the required number of times in Junior tests at hunting tests for spaniels, retrievers, and pointing breeds.
Kennel: 1) Dog boarding or training facility; 2) Dog box or cage for transport or sleeping
Lead: In shooting, moving the gun muzzle to place the shot string ahead of the bird, anticipating its direction of flight.
Litter: The puppies of one whelping.
LM: Large Munsterlander, a versatile hunting breed.
Master Hunter (MH): AKC title for which a dog must receive qualifying scores at six licensed or member tests. If the dog has already received a Senior Hunter title (SH), the dog need only qualify 5 times.
NA: Natural Ability, the NAVHDA test for dogs up to 16 months of age.
NADKC: North American Deutsch Kurzhaar Club, affiliate of the Deutsch Kurzhaar Verband (DKV)
NAHRA: North American Hunting Retriever Association.
National Amateur Field Champion (NAFC): A prefix title or designation conferred on a dog that has won the National Amateur Championship field trial for its breed.
National Field Champion (NFC): A prefix title or designation conferred on a dog that has won the National Championship field trial for its breed.
NAVHDA: North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association
Neuter: To castrate or spay.
Non-slip retriever: Term used in connection with off-lead retriever field trials, a dog that is steady to wing, shot and fall and only retrieves when commanded.
Novice Stake: Field trial competition confined to dogs that not have gained the following awards: a first through fourth place in a 24-dog Open Stake; or first, second or third award in a 12 dog Open Stake; or first award in an All Aged or Novice Stake. For spaniels, novice stakes are open to dogs that have not gained a first, second or third in Open Stakes; or first in an All Age or Novice Stake.
NSTRA: National Shoot to Retrieve Association.
Objective: Field trial and hunting term for obvious bird-holding area, usually a bush or other well-defined shelter.
Open Stake: Field trial competition in which the dogs have the opportunity of gaining a qualification towards the title of Field Trial Champion (FC) and towards entry in the Championships or Champion Stake for its breed.
OFA: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, developed and maintains a registry of hip dysplasia in dogs. Dogs with OFA numbers are rated and certified free of canine hip dysplasia.
Over: Dog handling term to command a dog to hunt to one side of a field or water to retrieve.
Over & under: Shotgun with two barrels aligned vertically; also called “superposed.”
PennHIP: A method of evaluating hip dysplasia in dogs by calculating hip laxity; within-breed ratings are provided, permitting breeders to select dogs with the best (smallest laxity) hips for breeding future generations.
Pick up: Taken out of competition and removed from the field. In a field trial, a dog is “picked up” at the order of a judge.
Plant: Placing a bird on the ground, usually to provide game for a field trial or hunt test or training session.
Point: The intense, stylized stance of the hunting dog, taken to indicate the presence and position of game. Often includes a front leg and tail up.
Prize: In the NAVHDA testing system, each level includes three “prizes,” I, II, and III, indicating to what degree the dog accomplished each task in the test. Minimum scores in certain test areas are required to earn each prize level.
NAPBA: North American Pudelpointer Breeders Alliance, breed testing and training group.
PPNA: Pudelpointer Club of North America, breed club.
Pull away: Style of shooting in which you place your shotgun muzzle on the bird, then move it forward to achieve lead.
Pump: Shotgun that is reloaded by sliding back the fore-end to eject empty shell and move an unspent shell into the breech.
Puppy Stake: Field trial competition for whelped no earlier than January 1 in the year preceding the date of the field trial. If a Puppy Stake is run in January then a dog that was a puppy in the previous year is deemed to still be a puppy.
Quartering: A left-right-left pattern the dog runs in the field, generally in an arc in front of the hunter.
Race: A dog’s performance style, in terms of ground coverage and speed, i.e. a dog with big forward race is far in front of the handler and covering a lot of ground side-to-side as well.
Relocate: Resuming hunting on his own or upon command, after a dog has pointed a bird (that has likely moved off).
Roading: Forcing a dog to pull against some form of weight (ATV, bike, chain harnessed to the dog) to increase its strength and stamina.
Scout: Field trial assistant who rides horseback to locate the dog for the handler.
Senior Hunter (SH): A suffix title conferred on dogs that have qualified the required number of times in Senior tests at hunting tests for pointing breeds, retrievers, and spaniels.
Service: Breeding, a dog “services” a bitch.
Set: Lying down upon encountering birds; historically, setter-type dogs did this before firearms became prevalent so a net-throwing hunter had an unobstructed toss to the birds
Sharp: An aggressive dog is “sharp.” In some breed clubs sharpness is desired for dogs that must dispatch vermin.
Shot size: Size of the pellets in a shotgun shell.
Shot string: Pellets as they leave the shotgun muzzle spread longitudinally as well as vertically, so that when they arrive at the target, some are several feet ahead of others.
Side by side: Shotgun with two barrels aligned horizontally.
Single: One bird.
Shuck: 1) Act of reloading a pump shotgun; 2) Spent shotgun shell.
Singing: In field trials, handlers will shout or “sing” so their dog knows his location.
Skeet: American clay target game created to simulate bird hunting, with two “towers” from which targets are thrown, shooters move in a semi-circular pattern from station to station.
SM: Small Munsterlander, a versatile hunting breed.
Soft: Sensitive to harsh training methods.
Soft mouth: If the birds it retrieves are undamaged, the dog has a “soft mouth.”
Spaniel: Any of the dog breeds originally from Spain that flush birds rather than point them. Examples: Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel.
Spinone: More accurately Spinone Italiano, a versatile hunting breed.
Sporting clays: A British clay target game originally envisioned so that targets would imitate hunting situations, thus its original name “hunter’s clays.”
Stake: Designation of a class or separately-judged competition in field trials.
Stand: To point a bird.
Started dog: Usually a younger dog that is somewhat obedience trained, comes when called and will point birds.
Staunch: Holding still, usually in the presence of a bird, despite distraction or temptation. Sometimes refers to a more intense or stylish point.
Steady: Stable, not moving while on point. Steady to wing usually indicates a dog will hold point until the bird is flushed. A dog that is steady to shot holds point until the hunter shoots; a dog steady to fall awaits a command before breaking point to retrieve or hunt on.
Stimulation: Application of electric shock via training collar.
Stop to flush: Stopping upon seeing or hearing a bird fly.
Straw: Container holding dog semen, which is either chilled or frozen for later use.
Style: Subjective term describing a dog’s work in the field and upon finding birds.
Sustained lead: Style of shooting in which you place your shotgun muzzle ahead of the bird, track the bird’s flight and shoot ahead of the bird’s trajectory.
Swing: In shooting, moving the gun muzzle in the direction the bird is flying.
Tethering: Tying a cord to a bird used for training so it will fly some distance then fall to the ground so the trainer can use it again. Often, trainers will attach the other end of the cord to a “pigeon pole.”
Tie-out stake: A metal post in the ground to which a dog is attached via a chain.
Timberdoodle: Woodcock, also called mud bat, bogsucker, and woodsnipe.
Training table, whoa table: A raised surface used to train a dog
Trap: 1) Original clay target game, shooters are arrayed in an arc behind a “trap house,” from which targets fly away from the shooters; 2) in some hunt tests or trials, when a dog catches the bird prior to the flush.
Trash: Game you don’t want your dog pursuing, i.e., deer, coons.
UPT: Utility Preparatory Test, a NAVHDA test for dogs over 16 months of age, including many of the components of the Utility Test, but in simpler forms.
UT: Utility Test, for more advanced dogs in the NAVHDA system.
VC: Versatile Champion, a dog that has passed the highest test level in the NAVHDA system. A dog is invited to participate in the group’s invitational test after earning a Utility Test Prize I.
VDD: Verein Deutsch Drahthaar, or German Wirehair Club based in Germany with an affiliate (VDDNA) in the U.S. and Canada)
VDDNA: Verein Deutsch Drahthaar North America, branch of the German-based VDD.
Versatile dog: Any of the “continental” breeds developed in Europe in the 1800’s for the middle-class hunter who needed one dog to point, retrieve on land and water, track furred, feathered and wounded big game as well as protect the family. Examples: German Shorthair, Spinone, Weimaraner, Viszla.
VHDF: Versatile Hunting Dog Federation, a dog testing and training club in the U.S. focusing on the “continental” breeds.
Viszla: Shorthaired versatile breed from Hungary.
Wachtelhund: German spaniel originally bred to hunt quail.
Weimaraner: Shorthaired versatile breed from Germany.
Whoa: Command word to stop a dog, and have him remain motionless.
Whoa post: Metal or wooden post in the ground around which a checkcord is looped to stop a dog’s forward movement
Wild flush: Bird that flies before the hunter or dog purposely flushes it.
WPGCA: Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America.