Vizsladogs, Ltd.

What is the VCA's Versatility Program?

This article, written by Nancy Staley (VCA's Versatility Chair) and Beth Nash, appeared in the Vizsla Club of America's Jan/Feb 1995 issue (updated 1 Jan 1999). We reprint it here for it is the best description of the program we have read so far. Click on the title holders if you wish to see the actual list of Versatility Holders and skip this description.

The Versatility Program was started by the VCA in the early 1980's to test and award Vizslas who can perform in multiple areas, and to encourage amateur Vizsla owners to participate with their dogs. Specifically, the program recognizes Vizslas who excel in conformation, field, and obedience.

The Breed Standard describes more than physical characteristics; it describes the Vizsla as "a natural hunter ' with " above average ability to take training." The program requirements reflect this description.

A dog can qualify by participating in Versatility Tests given by local Vizsla Clubs, or by obtaining equivalent American Kennel Club (AKC) titles. The Versatility Program awards separate certificates for conformation, field, and obedience, and the program' s highest award-the Versatility Certificate-to Vizslas who have qualified in all three areas.

Local Vizsla Clubs hold Versatility Tests following the procedures established by the VCA. The requirements of each test are described below. The tests are non-competitive: each dog is scored individually and is graded "pass" or 'fail." To earn a certificate in conformation, field, or obedience, a dog must pass the test three times under three different judges. To enter obedience and field test, the dog must be at least six months old; for conformation tests, the minimum age is 12 months. Judges are chosen by the local club and usually are club members who are experienced in one or more of the areas to be tested. A fee of $2.00 must be paid to the V C A for each entry in each test. Because the tests arc non-competitive, they can be especially enjoyable activities for newer Vizsla owners, particularly when experienced handlers help them get involved. Like other club activities, the tests offer opportunities to have fun with the dogs and share training skills with other owners.

T he Conformation Test requires the Vizsla to be a good representative of the Breed Standard, and to have no disqualifying faults. As part of the test, the dog must be measured with a wicket and must be within the height requirement of the standard. At least one measurement must be taken when the Vizsla is 18 months of age or older. The test is usually given in a setting similar to a conformation ring and requires the dog to be gaited on a leash at a trot In addition to conformation and height, the dog' s temperament is evaluated.

The Field Test is primarily an evaluation of the Vizsla's natural hunting ability. The test requires the dog to hunt with purpose, find and point a bird, and retrieve a shot bird at least 3/4 of the distance back to the handler The dog may be collared while on point and does not need to be steady to wing or shot An experienced gunner is provided to shoot the birds. The dog is evaluated on its hunting ability, the quality of its point and retrieve, and its responsiveness to the handler. This test requires a good hunting field and experienced gunners. The birds may be any upland game bird; usually quail, partridge, or pheasants are used. The course is run for 15 to 20 minutes, and each dog is run singly.

The Obedience Test requires the most training of the dog. The requirements are similar to the Novice exercises for the AKC Companion Dog (CD) title. The dog must heel on lead and off Lead with appropriate halts and changes in pace. The dog may sit or stand at the halt as long as it is consistent. The dog must perform an off-lead stand for exam and a recall; the recall may be to a sitting or standing position. The test includes a three-minute stay exercise which is performed as a group; the dog may be in the sit, stand, or down position for the stay exercise. The dog is Judged on how closely its performance matches the standard set in the AKC Obedience Regulations.

When a dog has qualified in a test three times, The VCA Versatility Chairman awards a Conformation Certificate, Field Dog Certificate, or Obedience Certificate, and the dog is entitled to use the appropriate initials (CC, FC, or OC) after its name. Vizslas may also qualify for any of the three certificates by obtaining the corresponding AKC titles: Breed Champion for the Conformation Certificate; Field Champion Amateur Field Champion, Senior Hunter, or Master Hunter for the Field Dog Certificate, and Companion Dog for the Obedience Certificate. A Fee of $3.00 to the VCA is required with each AKC title Certificate. A dog that has fulfilled the requirements in all three areas is awarded a Versatility Certificate and is entitled to use the initials VC after its name.

In the history of the Versatility Program to date, 345 Conformation Certificates, 230 field Dog Certificates, 183 Obedience Certificates, and only 140 Versatility Certificates have been awarded. The number of dogs with Versatility Certificates is roughly equal to the number of Dual Champions in the breed. Obtaining a Versatility Certificate should be considered a great honor to both the dog and the owner. For breeders, it confirms that they are producing dogs that truly reflect the meaning of the Vizsla Breed Standard .

This program is for any Vizsla and the owner does not have to be a VCA member. For futher details contact the VCA.

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