In Brief: Retrievers Qualifying Tests in Estonia

The aim of Retrievers Qualifying Test is to select dogs having good temperament and game (or dummy) finding ability. Passing this Test is mandatory if you want to later compete in Field Trials (FT) or Working Tests (RWT). 

You can choose between two Tests: with cold game (ducks, pheasants or crows are used) or with dummies (canvas). Overall rules are same for both (see HERE).

Some statistics

Tradition of Retriever Testing in Estonia is not very long. First Qualifying Test (with cold game) was held in 2004 and first Dummytest in 2009. Since then, average 2-5 Tests per year have been organized by different Retriever Clubs. Most successful year was 2015 (with 8 Tests).

Judges are mostly invited from Finland as we didn’t have any person eligible until 2015, when Riin Kooli-Kõnnussaar (kennel Cloudburst Tollers) passed judging exam and is now performing as an active judge.

In Estonian it is called “tõukatse” (breed+test).

What is valued?

Before entering your Dog, he/she should know how to come when called, Retrieve in hand and handle different type of game/dummy without damaging it. Dog must be at least 8 months old.

The Test is not a trial where prizes and placements are awarded. It is also not a marking test and is not to indicate the extent of training the dog has received.

Judge can encourage an insecure Dog, a Dog can come back from a search empty (re-sent) and marking ability is not very important.

  • Social Behaviour to other people and dogs.
  • Hunting Desire – Work is eager and independent.
  • Reaction to Gun Shot Sound –  Calm, attentive and soundless.
  • Search – Performs the search independently, efficiently and briskly until retrieving or called back in.
  • Picking Up – Picks game up independently and without any help from Handler.
  • Grip – Holds game tenderly but firmly, without damaging it.
  • Retrieve – Delivers game briskly and quickly to hand.
  • Water Performance – Willing to work in water.
  • Cooperation – Eager to please.

Why to Try?

Dog who passes all parts of the Test is qualifiyed and therefore:

  1. can be entered to Fiald Trials and Retriever Working Tests, etc.
  2. can apply for an International Working Certificate,
  3. can be entered in Working Class at dog shows,
  4. is eligible for the title Estonian Champion (after recieving 3x EE CAC),

The Test has four different phases:

* Dog can be held on leash before every attempt.

1.Social Behaviour
Photo: Reeli Kuhi-Thalfeldt
Photo: Reeli Kuhi-Thalfeldt

Judge observes each Dog at the beginning of Test in a group of six Dogs and greets every Dog and Handler in person. Dog must be social and well.

Judge also covers the days plan and introduces the rules. Numbers are drawn. First Dog will then start and others leave to the waiting area.

All following phases are individual.

2.Work in Water

toukatse-vesiWaterwork is valued by Dogs ability of retrieving two dead waterfowls from the water. Typically ducks are used. Water area must be large enough so dogs will not try to go around it. Entry to the water is relatively easy.

First bird is thrown from a shore.

toukatse-vesi2The second retrieve is thrown from a boat and follows immediately after a successful retrieve of the first bird.
During the second throw, a gunshot is fired.
Birds must be retrieved at least to shore but not necessarily to hand. Swimming distance must be at least 20 metres (22 yards).

If the water work is passed, the Dog will immediately move on to the searching grounds.

3.Work on Land – Search

Five dead birds are hidden on forest terrain. Nb! Only one type of bird is used on land (pheasants or crows).

Shortest distance is ~50 metres (55 yards).

A shot from gun is aired and at the same time sixth (6) bird is thrown. Dog must have a view to see throwing, but not necessarily see where it „hit“. Dog is sent to work. The terrain must also be covered enough so the Dog can’t rely on its Handler. There can be small ridges or bushes, fallen trees, wet area, etc.

Dog must retrieve at least 4 birds but in most cases, all 6 retrieves are required.

If the work on land is passed, the Dog will return to the waiting area. Once all of the dogs have finised water work and work in forest, the dogs that have passed both, will move on to the trail (again individual).


~80 metre long, reverse L-shaped trail is laid down with a dead rabbit or a hare in a way that Judge would have an opportunity to view the Dog working. The Dog should independently find and deliver the game/or rabbit dummy (1,5-3 kg).



If your Dog has passed all the four phases, you will be awarded with a diploma and a written critique. If you failed, try again next time 🙂



Judge has right to fail the Dog in following reasons:

  • unwilling to work,
  • gunshy,
  • unwilling to retrieve,
  • giving up or constantly dropping game,
  • hard mouthed, damaging game,
  • unwilling to swim and perform a retrieve from the water,
  • aggressive behaviour towards other dogs and/or people,
  • whines, barks excessively,
  • is out of control.