Fall breed test
A dog will be entered in the HZP in the fall immediately following its VJP. Again, a dog can only be handled twice in an HZP, with the exception of participation in the international tests (e.g., Armbruster or Hegewald). The entrance requirements and the judging methods are the same as for the VJP.
The HZP further evaluates the natural ability of the hunting dog now that its training in the field and water is largely complete. The subjects to be tested are Nose, Search, Pointing, Cooperation, Desire to Work, Water Work, Retrieving, and Obedience. The Test Regulations describe how these subjects will be evaluated and the weight that each will be given in the overall score. In the US and Germany an opportunity may be provided for a hare track at the HZP. This option is generally not available at the Canadian tests.
The standard for the performance of the dog in Nose, Search, Pointing, and Cooperation is higher in the HZP than it was in the VJP. The HZP also evaluates Obedience and requires that the dog do Water Work, which includes a Blind Retrieve from dense cover and a Search behind the Live Duck in densely vegetated water. At this time a marked retrieve in the water will be conducted during which a shotgun is fired into the water to again assess whether the dog is Gun Shy or Gun Sensitive. In the field the dog will be evaluated on the retrieve of game from two drags — one of feathered game (pheasant) and one of furred game (rabbit). The drag of the rabbit is at least 300 m, well out of sight of the handler. This provides an opportunity to assess the reliability of retrieve. A score for Manner of Retrieve will be compiled from the combination of retrieves from water and the field. As in the VJP, the manner of hunting and any behavioral or conformation faults are also noted by the Judges.
While preparation for the VJP consisted primarily of exposure to various cover and game, preparation for the HZP involves a significant amount of training. The training, of course, is consistent with the preparation you would normally do to prepare your dog for hunting; however, this training needs to be done to the standard of the test, which may be more stringent than your own expectations of your dog in the field or water.
A notable area of training for the HZP is in the area of retrieving. As previously indicated, the JGHV testing system weights the work of the dog after the shot more heavily due to its importance in game conservation. No game should be lost! Therefore your dog must be a reliable retriever regardless of the type of game or where it may be found. To achieve this high level of retrieving most handlers will follow a “trained retrieve” method of preparation — sometimes called forced retrieving or force fetch. Following are some good sources of information about this method of training, with links to further information:
Trained Retrieve: Part I - HOLD and Part II - FETCH, videos by Jim Dobbs.
The Hows and Whys of the Forced Retrieve, article by Steve Kohlmann.
The Training and Care of the Versatile Hunting Dog, book by Sigbot Winterhelt and Edward D. Bailey.
Training the Sporting Dog, book by Donald Smith and Ervin E. Jones.
Water Work is another area of training that might require extensive work. During the marked retrieve where gun sensitivity is assessed the dog is expected to enter the water within one minute of being started or it will be disqualified. In the blind retrieve and the search behind the duck, the dog must be seen to use the wind, widen its search pattern and persist in its search until it retrieves the duck or is called in. It is not uncommon for dogs to be reluctant to enter the water or to give up the search prematurely. While the handler can help and direct his dog, constant influencing or stone throwing lessens the score. These issues should be dealt with well before the test.
Note: The duck must be retrieved during the blind retrieve. It is not necessary that the dog locates and retrieves the duck in the search behind the live duck. However, if the dog does come into contact with the duck, then it must retrieve it.
Drahthaar News articles on preparing for the HZP provide insight into the various subjects of the HZP. Another good resource for preparing for the HZP is the Drahthaar Puppy Manual by Roger Smith and Nancy Bohs.
The testing system
The JGHV (Jagdgebrauchshundverband) testing system in Germany is a rigorous, multi-stage program designed to evaluate and ensure the versatile hunting abilities, temperament, and health of hunting dog breeds, ensuring they meet high standards for field work and conservation.
The VJP is the initial versatile hunting aptitude test in the German JGHV system, assessing young dogs on their natural abilities like nose quality, tracking, and cooperation, fundamental for their development as effective hunting companions.
The HZP in the German JGHV system is an advanced hunting test assessing a dog's developed abilities in field, forest, and water work, emphasizing retrieving, pointing, and obedience, crucial for a versatile hunting dog.
The VGP is the most comprehensive and demanding test in the German JGHV system, evaluating mature hunting dogs on a wide range of skills including tracking, pointing, retrieving, obedience, and water work, to ensure their proficiency as versatile and reliable hunting companions.