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
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.