Here at Ringneck Ridge Inc. we believe it is important to inform give as much information on our lines as possible. For those seeking hunting partners, we feel pedigree plays a big part in field/ hunt ability. If you take the time to research what kind of hunting abilities have been awarded in your dogs pedigree, you will most likely find the dog you have been looking for.
Training is vital for any hunting dog. Trainers play a very big part in any dogs abilities. If you know how to bring your dogs field/ hunt abilities out and reward your dogs efforts, you will find the Weimaraner is eager to learn and please in both the field and in the home.
The WCA has broken down the hard to follow German guidelines for breeding Weimaraners. In Germany, You must enter the dog in his Verbands-Jugendprufung VJP or Youth Test in the spring. In the autumn of the same year, the dog must enter the Herbst Zucht Prufung HZP testing his hunting ability. In Germany you are allowed to breed the dog only if the Weimaraner passes his HZP.
In the USA and some of the European countries like England, France and Holland, the hunting breeds all have their special tasks. A pointing bird dog for work 'before the game shot'. The dog has to search the field and when he finds game, he must come to a point. When the game is flushed, the dog has to be ?steady to the shot?. After the game is shot, it has to be retrieved; we use retrievers for the task. If hunting in the woods with dense cover, a spaniel is needed to drive out the game. For the retrieving of water game, we have special water dogs with a coat that makes them suitable for this type of work. When a deer is shot but not killed, bloodhounds' (in German Schweißhund) are used to follow the bloodtrack of the deer. Dogs other than the traditional foxhounds are also useful in hunting fox. When hunting on your own, but not on horseback, a small dog like a dachshund or a Jack Russell terrier are good for entering the foxhole and driving him out into the open for the hunter to shoot.
The Weimaraner belongs to the HPR-breeds, a gun dog that hunts, points and retrieves. The Weimaraner and the hunter have to do almost all of the tasks mentioned above (except driving the fox out of his hole, because a Weimaraner is too big for that, of course). In the countries mentioned above, the field trials are specialized for specialized breeds, so it is hardly possible to test the versatility of the HPR. On a field trial for pointing dogs, the main work before the shot is tested and the results must be a very high standard. Those field trials are excellent for pointers and setters. Field trials for retrievers are meant for breeds that retrieve game. The same thing goes for spaniel trials. But where does our HPR or the all round gundog fit in? That is the problem we have in these countries where only specialized trials are held.
In countries like Germany and Austria, they also have field trials and tests. But these are specialized for the HPR-breeds and those breeds, like the Weimaraner, have to do all of the subjects well. A young Weimaraner, born in the year before or the last three months of the year before that, will first do the Verbands-Jugendprufung (VJP) in the spring. This is a Youth Test and the dog will have to search, point, work out the track of a hare, and show they are not afraid of the shot. In the autumn of the same year, the Herbst Zucht Prufung HZP is done. In this test, the dog must show his hunting ability. The HZP contains searching and pointing but also retrieving of game (pheasant) and tracking of a dragged pheasant. Water work, such as a lost retrieve of a duck, retrieving a duck out of the water and searching the reeds, is tested.
The VGP, Vollgebrauchsprüfung in Austria and Verbands-gebrauchsprüfung in Germany, is the highest test for experienced, well trained HPR's, hunting, pointing and retrieving breeds. The test takes two days and demands hard work from both dog and handler. The German VGP contains at least 28 subjects that are judged separately. In the German states, where the work on a living duck (stöbern hinter die Ente) is allowed, this 29th subject is added. If at a VGP, this subject is not tested nor has been tested before, you can always see it listed on the score sheet. After the prize and points they add "o.l.e." which means ohne (without), lebende (living), ente (duck). In Austria, the VGP always includes work on the living duck. There are also more subjects: 35 of them!
The test is divided into five groups: The Waldarbeit or forest work containing the blood track, where the dog and his handler have to find a roedeer, track of the fox, track of the hare, searching the woods for game for 10 minutes (stöbern), doing field work (like a spaniel) in dense cover in the woods (buschieren) and so on. The water work is the retrieve of a dead duck out of the water. Just before the dog reaches the duck, a shot is fired on the water over the head of the dog. Also, he must search the reeds for 10 minutes, a lost retrieve of a duck and if allowed, searching for a living duck. The dog must follow the swim trail and drive the duck out of the reeds to open water. The duck is then shot and retrieved by the dog.
Important is the field work where the nose is judged as well as the dog?s ability to find game. Searching: Does the dog search the field well planned and entirely? Does he hold his head (nose) high? Does he quarter enough ground? Is the dog able to find game, approach it, come to a point and hold the game at that place?. Included is the tracking of a dragged pheasant. In Germany the dog must show his steadiness when he flushes game and a shot is fired. If at the German VGP, the dog makes his point on pheasant and no other game is found, the steadiness on hare does not have to be tested. Of course it will, when the dog flushes a hare. At the Austrian VGP, both steadiness on feathered game and on hare (or rabbit) are tested.
The fourth group is obedience. During the entire VGP, the judges evaluate how well the dog responds to commands of his handler. The dog must follow both on and off lead. The unleashed dog must stay in place with the handler out of sight while the handler fires two shots. The Weimaraner must sit or lie down beside his handler during a simulated driven shoot in the forest. The handler fires two shots as the beaters are near to him in the forest.
The last group contains retrieving. All retrieves during the VGP are judged. My experience is that the Austrian VGP on this point is more difficult than the German VGP. If for example, the dog retrieves game standing, but retrieves the game at hand, in most cases you will get 4 points for the retrieve in Germany. They do not seem to mind whether the dog is standing or sitting while presenting the game to the handler. In Austria, not only at the VGP but also at the field and water test (HZP), a deduction of one point is taken when the dog is not sitting down when handing you the game.
Evaluated separately is the way the dog and the handler work together (form a team), the endurance of the dog, the way the dog hunts and his willingness to please. As mentioned, the VGP is one of the most demanding tests an HPR can do. Every dog has strong and weak points. The demands on both dog and handler over the two days is extremely difficult, as so many different tests are combined. You can not have an ?off-day" or even an insufficient on one of the subjects, if for this subject a sufficient is required for passing the VGP! At the VJP (Natural Ability Examination) and the HZP (autumn test) the judge will take into account that the handler might be inexperienced. But at the VGP they expect a full trained, well experienced dog that shows endurance. And, they expect both dog and handler arrive at the VGP very well prepared.
A new rule in Germany is the allowance for more than one VGP. If you fail the first VGP, you may do another one, but not more than one! This rule prevents people making a sport of the VGP by entering their dog for five or six VGP's just to get the highest results in points and prizes. In Germany and Austria, only hunters can enter their dogs for the test. This is another difference with the field trials we have in Holland, Belgium, France, England where people who do not hunt their dogs themselves enter their dogs. Because only hunters participate in the VGP, this insures the test is and will stay a good test for working dogs that are actually used for hunting.
The points and prizes are difficult to understand. For each subject at the VGP the maximum score is a ?Very Good? which stands for 4 points. A ?Good? stands for 3 points, a ?Sufficient? for 2 points, a ?Moderate? for 1 point and 0 means insufficient. An extremely good performance can be awarded with a 4h, where the 'h' stands for ?Excellent? (Hervoragend). This will not give the dog more points as the rating is ?4h?. Judges do not give a ?4h? very easily This happened to me once at a VGP with Joy for the bloodtrack. The judges have to explain on the score sheet what made the performance good enough a ?4h? was given. There are great number of subjects, but not all subjects are equally important, therefore, the result for each subject is multiplied. The multiplier is high (5 or 6) with subjects that are very important and low (2 or even 1) with less important subjects. The bloodtrack is very important and the result is therefore multiplied with 5. Walking at heel on the other hand is only multiplied with two and lead work is not multiplied at all.
The final results are when all points are multiplied and the points are counted to a total. The points with which a VGP in Germany are awarded vary from a third prize with 163 points to a maximum of a first prize with 324 points. In special cases, such as with the totverbeller, totverweisen, or overnight bloodtrack, searching for and retrieving of game that is shot in the field, even more points may be awarded. The Austrian VGP has more subjects (35) and therefore, a higher total score. The lowest possible or third prize, VGP is 258; the highest first prize has 412 points and with a 24 hours blood track even 420 points are awarded. Not only the points are important, but first, second or third prize is awarded. On a German or Austrian Weimaraner pedigree behind the name of the dog, you see a "VGP II 279", this dog was awarded a second prize VGP with 279 points.
It is somewhat confusing, because you may earn a first prize with less points than another dog with a second prize! A second prize is possible with 220 points and a first prize with 254 points. This is less than the second prize with 279 points I mentioned earlier. The explanation is as follows: The awarding of a 1st, 2nd or 3rd prize is not only dependent on the points scored on each subject, but the result on what one might call ?major subjects'. For example, for a first prize in Germany you must have a 'very good' (4 points) on the bloodtrack and a 'sufficient' (2 points) on the other seven subjects belonging to the group ?work in the forest'. Those kinds of demands are also set with the other groups. It is very sad when a dog - that is performing well at all of the other subjects - is graded with a 1 or a 0 for the subject searching in the woods (stöbern im wald) or buschieren (rough shooting in the woods), because no less than a 2 is required. In this case the dog can't pass his VGP!
Now that you have the WCA's version of how to break down the breeding and hunting requirements for the German Weimaraner, we invite you to take a look at our Weimaraner's pedigree. We have been working with our breeders Alfred and Gisela in Germany to help produce some very strong hunting lines here in America. Again, training is vital to produce outstanding hunting abilities with any dog but it doesn't hurt to have strong hunting lines to back up and bring out these imprinted skills.