Herding trials have
been held in France since 1896. There have been some variations in details
over the years, but the essentials have remained the same.
crossing at national championship trial
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from herding trials in France
the trial course, the shepherd may lead the flock, be at the side, or
follow the flock; in actual practice, about half lead, and half
follow. When bridges, chutes or other narrow passages are
negotiated, this is to be done with the dog showing control of the flock.
With obstacles such as sorting chutes, the shepherd may help the dog, for
instance, by blocking the sheep to help funnel them. At the advanced
level, a small vehicle will pass the flock as it moves along a narrow
the grazing section of the trial, the shepherd and dog move the flock into
a marked area and settle them. This represents the traditional French
practice of "grazing to the square" -- keeping the sheep in a
compact group so that the field is thoroughly grazed and manured a section
at a time. The handler may be required to catch and briefly hold a
sheep, while the dog, showing initiative, keeps the flock
at a distance may be required in the Level III class: the sheep are left
grazing while the shepherd moves to a handler's post up to 250 yards away,
either taking the dog with him, or leaving the dog with the flock and then
recalling the dog; then the dog is sent to gather the flock and bring it
to the handler. In mountain regions especially sheep graze in a more
spread-out fashion, vegetation being sparser, and the dog may need to be
sent some distance to gather them.
1990 there was one overall type or level of trial, although individual
courses could vary considerably. Basic common elements were included
and overall guidelines followed. There was an exit from the pen, movement
along a road or path, passage near a hedge, embankment or tempting crop,
transit over a bridge and through gates or natural barriers, halting of
the flock to graze for 2 or 3 minutes in a square marked off by four
corner flags, entry onto a road and the meeting or overtaking of the flock
by a car, and returning the sheep to the pen. The overall point total was
100. As is still the case, the regulations left it to the judges to
establish the course and distribute points according to the
characteristics of that course.
the early 1990's, the trials were divided into three levels, and a kind of
instinct test was added below the level of the trials. The three
levels incorporate various aspects of the original one-level trials.
Level I is for novice dogs, with the course is limited to the most
simple obstacles and tests. Level
II is for more experienced dogs; the course is longer and there are
additional obstacles and tasks, including at least two stops; success at
this level allows the dog to obtain his Brevet, the "certificate of
work with the flock." Level
III likewise has a longer course, with additional obstacles and tasks,
including at least two stops, plus a car pass and in some cases work at a
distance; obtaining specified ratings at this level entitles the dog to
higher certificates and the opportunity to compete in the National
Championship trial. There are
also trials and a National Championship for work on cattle.
FRENCH HERDING TRIAL RULES for Traditional
This is summarized information from the printed
sheepdog trials are designed to show the value of the various qualities of
the dog: obedience, activity,
gentleness, initiative, and herding ability, to promote its selection and
use for herding, and teach users how to bring out and make good use of the
abilities of their dogs, because there is no good flock without good dogs.
inter-breed herding competitions take place over varied terrain, filled
with natural obstacles, and encompass most of the exercises a farmer and
his dog are asked to perform during the normal conduct of their flock operation.
There are three courses, tailored to the training level of the
dogs, to judge their proficiency in the conduct of animals:
I trials: designed for
novice handlers and dogs who, on a simple course, are to demonstrate a
basic knowledge of training in the use of the dog in the handling of a
II trials - Brevet: for
purebred, registered dogs, with a good experience of handling a flock.
III trials: open only to dogs
that have previously obtained the Brevet, for handlers who have perfect
knowledge of animals and the control of their behavior using dogs.
Level III trials can be organized as regional competitions for
selection of candidates for the championship of France.
“Selective” trials require a sorting-pen and the passing of the
flock by a vehicle either from the front or overtaking it.
Who can organize trials, and various technical details.
Animals being used must be in
good health, accustomed to being handled with the aid of a dog, and there
must be sufficient numbers so that each group is not used more than twice
in one day, and only one time a day for the Championship of France.
flock is to consist of groups of 25 to 60 head for Levels I and II, and 50
to 80 head minimum in Level III and in the Championship of France.
Included are some specifications as to age, condition and care of the
trials are reserved for sheep and cattle dogs at least one year of age and
handled by a professional in the livestock industry, or by amateurs who
have met certain conditions of training and experience and have obtained
the CACCBT - Contrôle
d'Aptitudes à la Conduite du Chien de Troupeaux
certificate of ability to handle a herding dog
– a separate certificate must be obtained for each of the handler’s
dogs). Competing dogs
must have a valid rabies vaccination certificate and have their work book
(for recording the results of their participation in trials).
In exceptional and temporary cases, unregistered dogs will be
allowed to compete, but only in Level I.
Dangerous dogs or dogs in a poor state of health may not
participate. Bitches in
season may compete, but must be kept apart and will run last.
The judge is responsible for the welfare of the animals on the
passage from Level I to II, two “excellent” ratings must have been
obtained under two different Judges and recorded on the work book.
Level II is only for registered dogs, holding a work book.
Two qualifying ratings, obtained under two different judges, are
required for the recording of the Brevet.
A dog can’t be entered in Level III without prior approval of the
dog’s Brevet and presentation of the work book.
Composition of the jury,
oversight of jury/judge regarding general course conditions.
I trials are judged by a qualified judge or a trainee; Level II and III
trials are judged by a qualified judge possibly assisted by a trainee; the
National Championship trial is judged by three judges, one of whom may be
a trainee. The local presence
of the judge on the eve of the competition is essential.
The judge is responsible for the course and must see that it is in
accord with the regulations. The
judge will ensure the implementation of safety procedures for the benefit
of the public, board, staff, competitors, dogs and livestock.
The judge will ensure that the obstacles are as natural as possible
and of sufficient distant from one another to allow a reasonable sequence
and the placing of dogs and groups of livestock in normal working
conditions. After each run, the
judge will make a brief comment to the handler, but also, where
appropriate, to the public. If
there are several judges, the score will summarize the comments they have
done individually, the Jury President having the deciding vote.
At the end of the competition, before the award ceremony, the Jury
President will comment in general about the competition and the goal.
handler will submit on time on the morning of the competition the dog’s
valid health records and rabies vaccination records.
The handler will, upon arrival, submit his dog’s work book and
license to the secretary. Handlers
must be present at the time of the drawing of the run order; a competitor
who is absent when the draw is done for his level will run last.
Participants must comply with the requirements of the trial and any
local improvements approved by the Jury President.
During the trial period, handlers should keep their dogs in areas
designated for that purpose or keep them on lead so they do not
accidentally interfere in any way with the work of other competitors, on
pain of penalty or
trial encompasses, on a course as natural as possible, almost all tasks a
farmer and his dog are asked to perform in the usual course of work on
in a pen or sheepfold;
a flock from one place to another;
them into facilities for sorting;
and driving at a distance;
of the animals, their care, their separation.
courses are divided into sections or exercises:
which are added the general penalties and eliminations/disqualifications.
three course levels are tailored to levels of training to judge the
dogs’ proficiency in the handling of livestock.
Competition at Level I is designed for
notice handlers and dogs who, on a simple course, are to demonstrate a
basic knowledge of training in the use of the dog in the handling of a
flock, and includes the following exercises:
Pen or Sheepfold:
protection work in the pen or sheepfold, where the
dog, at the time of feeding, is to clear a passage into the flock as the
farmer advances, ensuring the distribution of food without the farmer
being jostled by sheep;
a jump at a height of eighty
centimeters to one meter, allowing the dog to go from one enclosure to
another or over a fence;
exit from the pen or sheepfold, is a
result of the work of the dog, calm and under control;
the reentry into the designated pen,
which may be a different pen from the one from which the flock departed,
is a result of the work of the dog, calm and under control.
Conduct and Maneuver:
The graze -- the flock is kept in
the space designated for this exercise, which may be an area along a path,
a crop or in an area marked by stakes;
of the dog, this can be done
during the graze or elsewhere as clearly defined and indicated by
Catching a sheep -- while the handler catches a sheep,
which may be pre-marked, the dog must, on its own initiative, keep the
animals within the indicated space;
includes taking the flock to and from the pen, grazing, negotiating
This section, only for level I, concerns:
Commands -- the handler’s work and
the quality of his commands, which have great influence on the dog's
behavior and the quality of its response.
The judge will assess the vocabulary, clarity, accuracy.
Obedience -- the dog's attention,
his understanding of orders, his obedience, which must be immediate,
complete and final, affect the good handling of the flock.
Activity, softness and initiative --
the judge evaluates the power of the dog, his endurance, his courage, his
lack of aggressiveness, his leadership; the judge also evaluates the dog's
ability to take control of the flock, ability
to gather, guide, stop or move the flock where the handler requests, the
dog’s ability to act alone and wisely to channel, stop or maintain the
flock, or go back and get lost sheep.
Barring exceptional cases, the shepherd's
dog does not bite animals, and any brutality must be severely penalized. A
brief nip is allowed only when it becomes necessary or on order to
maintain control of the flock. Flagrant
and unnecessary bites are a cause of immediate disqualification if the dog
poses a threat to sheep.
The competition is scored on 75 points.
Level II is for purebred, registered dogs,
experienced in handling a flock. To
the Level I exercises are added:
difficult passages are narrow,
well-defined, and as natural as possible between crops, hedges or fences,
courtyards or fields; the transition from a bridge; loading a small group
of sheep on a truck or putting them into a
corridor for sorting or treatment.
The dog must be able to stop the flock in
all circumstances and the course will include, necessarily, a minimum of
two "Stops", placed at a natural boundary: road,
path, fence, crop, etc. The
stopping of the flock, which must be done by the dog, takes place at the
exit or entrance of a driveway, exit to a road or path, passage between
competition, scored on 100 points, permits the award of "Brevet
de Travail sur Troupeaux." To
qualify for the Brevet, a score of at least 75% of the available points
must be attained under two different judges.
Competition at Level III:
Open only to dogs that have previously obtained the Brevet, Level
III is for handlers who have perfect knowledge of animals and the control
of them through use of dogs.
A sorting exercise and the passing of the flock by a vehicle
approaching from the front or overtaking from the rear.
The sorting pen is used to sort
animals (e.g., isolate sick animals or to sell ...)
The car pass shows the dog's ability
to channel the flock in difficult situations with a vehicle passing from
the front or overtaking the flock and must be done on a true road, or at
least in a place representing the possible conditions encountered on
roads (vans and 4x4 vehicles are to be avoided, for the safety of the dog;
small quad-type vehicles are recommended).
Work at a distance is essentially to
direct the flock to a defined space, to gather the animals and take them
along a predetermined path toward the handler, who remains stationary at a
distance of 150-300 meters from the point of stabilization of the flock.
For the exercises of Level III,
the difficult passages may be more
numerous and require greater technical proficiency and handling (sorting
pen, loading in a trailer).
The stops of the
flock may be more numerous, more varied and
The competition, scored on 150 points, if a
Regional or National, is then a "Selective Competition", because
the results that are obtained are used in the selection of finalists for
the Championship of France for Work on Flocks.
DESCRIPTION OF THE WORK
Protection work is done before the
sheep leave the pen where the flock is contained.
The dog simulates the work done at feeding time, clearing a passage
into the flock in advance of the handler, and thus ensuring the
distribution of food or care without the handler being jostled by
sheep. The dog must hold the
passage open between the handler and the flock and may not leave this
position until the handler recalls the dog to his side.
height of eighty centimeters to one meter allows the dog to go from one
pen or enclosure to another or over a fence.
At the end of the exercise, to protect his exit from the pen, the
handler must position the dog between the flock and go out the gate,
leaving the dog to protect the exit; after closing the gate, the handler
recalls his dog, who will jump a hurdle
and go to a position at the feet of the handler.
Exit of the flock from the pen: At
the beginning of the run, at the approval of the judge, the handler may
open the gate to the pen and, accompanying the dog or not, brings the
flock out of the enclosure. The
exit should be the result of work of the dog acting under the commands of
the handler; it must be done in calm and taking control of the flock shall
be effective immediately. The
judge will assess the dog's behavior in contact with the flock, his
calmness and firmness.
The reentry into the designated pen
may be into a pen different from that of departure, and must be the result
of the dog acting under the commands of the handler; it must be done
quietly and without crowding. Near
the reentry, the flock must be stopped and held in place by the dog, while
the shepherd opens the pen gate. During
the reentry, the shepherd must remain near the gate and close it at the
end of the run.
The judge must determine the numerical
values for the scoring of the exit and reentry of the pen, depending on
the relative difficulty of these maneuvers.
Conduct and maneuver:
Grazing – at the command of the
shepherd, the dog must lead the animals into the designated space for this
exercise, stabilize them and keep them there.
The job is to graze a natural meadow or temporary area whose limits
are marked by stakes or markers in the corners or on the front of space
along a path, a crop or a marked perimeter.
The judge evaluates the dog's ability to bring in the flock and
keep it in place calmly, efficiently, and with initiative.
The holding of the flock under the
control of the dog may be done at the pasture or another location
specified by the judge. The
handler, with the aid of his dog, is to bring all the animals into the
indicated area and keep them there calmly.
Any exit by the sheep from the perimeter of the hold area before
the judge's signal is penalized.
OF THE WORK (2)
Catching a sheep:
The dog must, on its own initiative, without orders, keep the flock
within the designated area, while the handler catches a sheep for examination
or to provide care; the sheep may be pre-marked.
Commands and the sheep leaving the designated area before the
signal from the judge are penalized.
Movement includes moving the flock
to and from the pen, grazing, and obstacles.
The dog will be rated on his ability to guide the flock as directly
and regularly as possible between exercises and obstacles along the
defined path. The competitor
is not allowed to go back to a bypassed or uncompleted obstacle to try
another way. The judge will
assess the movement for the duration of the course, and the allocation of
scoring points under the exercise will be made based on the relative
difficulty of travel.
Distance work is mainly to take the
flock to a defined space, seek out and gather the animals, and drive them
through a predetermined path. The
handler remains stationary and commands his dog to move the flock through
a prescribed route, to a particular point at a distance of 150 to 300
meters, or to seek out, gather and bring the animals to him,
always by a prescribed route.
All errors on the course, difficulties,
shoving, etc. ... are penalized.
The car pass shows the dog's ability
to channel the flock in difficult situations of a vehicle passing from the
front or overtaking the flock and must be done on a true road, or at least
in a place representing the possible conditions encountered on
roads. The dog must place the
flock well on the side of the road and ensure that the vehicle can pass
without stopping. The flock
must be sufficiently controlled and must not stop the vehicle or flee from
it. Stopping or greatly
slowing the vehicle and lack of control while the vehicle is overtaking or
passing the flock will be penalized.
Difficult passages are well-defined narrow passages, as natural as
possible, between crops, hedges or fences of courtyards or fields;
crossing a bridge, a crossroads, going through a passage for sorting or
treatment; or loading a group of sheep on a truck.
The course must include at least two difficult passages, or even
three or more. The judge must
apportion the points awarded for this section based on the relative
difficulty of these exercises and their numbers, and evaluate the
approach, the handler's position, the dog, and the control from the exit.
The guidance of the flock in the difficult passages must be done by
the dog and in a calm manner; manual intervention of the handler is
penalized. In the case of a
bridge, the handler and the dog must also use the bridge to continue the
journey, because the bridge, even if artificial, still represents the
crossing of a gorge or stream too wide or too deep to be crossed.
In other cases, the shepherd stands in the position that seems best
suited to the passage of the flock, while letting the dog do the work
necessary for the passage of the obstacle.
Loading a small group of sheep into a truck or trailer may also be
provided on the course; the loading of animals into the vehicle must be
accomplished by the work of the dog.
Going around and past any obstacle causes the loss of all points awarded
to this passage and the competitor is not allowed to come back and try
DESCRIPTION OF THE WORK (3)
Stopping the Flock:
The dog must be able to stop the flock in all circumstances and the course
will include, necessarily, a minimum of two "Stops", or more,
placed at a natural boundary: road,
path, enclosure, crop, etc ...
The stopping of the flock is a very important maneuver that
must be done by the dog, not the handler.
The stops are done at the exit or entrance of a pen, driveway, exit
to a road or path, passing between crops, etc ...
After the flock has stopped and the handler has ascertained that
moving onto the road can be done safely, the restart must be done quickly,
without crowding, with the dog ensuring control.
Going past the limits of the stop results in loss of points, in
proportion to the degree, and the competitor is not allowed to try a new
The judge must apportion the points awarded for this exercise based
on the relative difficulty of these stops and their number.
Intelligence of execution:
This category is open only for level I, concerns:
handler’s work and the quality of his commands have great influence on
the dog's behavior and the quality of its response, and may be made by voice, gesture or
whistle. Unnecessary commands
or commands not followed by the dog will be penalized and it must be
remembered that each whistle is a command.
The judge will assess the vocabulary
employed, clarity of the command, strength, tone, and number.
Obedience -- the dog's attention, his understanding of orders, his
obedience which must be immediate, complete and final, affect
the good handling of the flock. Any
disobedience will be penalized in proportion to the consequences of not
executing the order given and may in extreme cases, lead to the
elimination of the competitor.
Activity, softness and initiative -- the judge evaluates the power
of the dog, his endurance, his courage, his lack of aggressiveness, his
leadership, and also evaluates the dog's ability to take possession of the
flock, ability to gather, guide, stop or move the flock to where the
handler requests, the dog’s ability to act alone and wisely to channel,
stop or maintain the flock, to
go retrieve the lost sheep.
Classification will be given to the dog on the following scale:
greater than or equal to 75% of the total points available
less than 75% and greater than or equal to 60% of the points
less than 60% and greater than or equal to 50% of the points
Less than 50% of the points
GENERAL PENALTIES - REMOVAL –
If time runs out before the run is completed, the run is stopped
and the flock must be repenned. Scoring
stops at the end of the time allotted to the runs.
General penalties: Logs errors
and behavior of the handler or the dog, not directly attributable to the
performance and the penalty for exceeding the time allotted:
- Commands as a reminder of dereliction of duty
- Indiscriminate use of stick
- Handler assistance, no work of the dog
- Loss of sheep on the course
- Unjustified use of teeth
- Exceeding the time allowed
Removal can be ordered due to misconduct of the handler or the dog:
- Failure to follow the regulations of inter-breed competition and
instructions given by the judge;
- Total lack of work or control
- Abandonment of the flock
- Repeated and unnecessary bites
- Dispersal of the flock
- Dog wandering on the showground during the passage of another competing
Disqualification is imposed for misconduct of the handler or the dog:
- Handler’s refusal to comply with directions given by the judge
- Incorrect behavior of the handler
- Unjustified challenge (to the judge)
- Interfering with operation of the competition
- Dog’s refusal to obey
- Total loss of control of the flock
- Shyness or aggressiveness
- Frequent scattering or aggressive pursuit of the herd
- Abuse of the dog
- Endangering the life or health of the animals
- Brutality toward his dog or animals
- Unreasonable or dangerous bites
Sheep need to respect the dog. Some sheep stand up to the dog and it
is only after the latter has asserted its authority that the sheep
understand there is monitoring and a custodian to whom they owe obedience.
Barring exceptional cases, the shepherd's dog does not bite
animals, and any brutality must be severely penalized. A brief nip
is allowed only when it becomes necessary or on order to maintain control
of the flock. Flagrant and unnecessary bites are a cause of
immediate disqualification if the dog poses a threat to sheep.
Note: In case of repeated disqualifications, a file will be
forwarded by the President of the Commission Troupeaux for
consideration by the Commission of discipline and action by the Committee
of the Société Centrale Canine.
All claims based on these rules, except those relating to judgments, since
they are final, will be made in writing within one hour of the event which
will be accompanied by a deposit , whose amount is fixed annually by
the Committee of the Société Centrale Canine, which will remain vested
in the Commission Troupeaux
if, after examination, they are recognized as being without merit.
DIPLOMAS - TITLES
Trials of working sheepdogs on flocks are certified by:
- Le Brevet de Travail sur Troupeaux (certificate of work on the
Certificat d’Aptitude au Championnat de Travail sur Troupeaux
(certificate of aptitude for championship of work on the flock) and
Championnat de Travail sur Troupeaux (championship of work on the flock);
Championnat de France de Travail sur Troupeaux (championship of France of
work on the flock).
- La Coupe
de France de Travail sur Troupeaux (the cup of France for work on the
a) – the Brevet de Travail sur Troupeaux
be severely judged so that it offers all guarantees as to the docility,
character, courage, initiative, and skills essential for a good
sheepdog. The tests are those of the Level II competition and the
dog must obtain a minimum of 75% of the total points available, under two
The Brevet must be obtained before entering the selective competition
(Level III) and is approved only after it is registered in the work book.
de Travail sur Troupeaux will be valid for the requirement for the National Championships of
b) - Certificat d’Aptitude au
Championnat de Travail sur Troupeaux (CACT) and Reserve (RCACT) can only be given in selective
competition, the Championship of France included, provided that the dogs
have finished first and second and obtained at least 80% of the points
available, and there is no tie for places first and second.
The allocation of these awards is not automatic; even if the score
requirement is met, the judge will decide whether or not to award it,
given the work that has been done, which must be of exceptional quality.
Only a qualified judge may issue such awards.
c) - The Championnat de Travail sur
The CACT, obtained three times, under two different judges, permits
the award of the title "Championship of Work on the Flock,"
provided that the dog has also obtained the qualification of at least VERY GOOD, in an exhibition organized by the
Société Centrale Canine or an affiliate.
The candidate must then apply for approval from the Société
Centrale Canine by submitting the work book which lists the awards won and
details of time, place, judge.
The Championship of Work on the Flock can also be awarded for a dog that
has received two CACTs
and a Reserve CACT, if in a competition the allocation of the reserve
is given to a dog placing reserve to a dog that already has the title of champion.
Note: The Championship
of Work on the Flock title
can be awarded to several dogs at the same time, if they all meet the
d) – The Championnat de France de
Travail sur Troupeaux: the title is awarded
only if the dog has earned at least 75% of the points in each selective
competition, without a tie, and has obtained at least the rating of VERY
GOOD, at the latest within six months, in an exhibition where the CACT is
in competition. The title of Championnat
de France de Travail sur Troupeaux may only be
offered once a year at the Championships in this discipline.
If the winner does not meet the above conditions, it will not
receive the title of
"Champion of France," but of "Winner of the
e) - La Coupe de France de Travail
sur Troupeaux: recognizes the
quality and regularity of working dogs on livestock.
It is awarded on the day of the Championship of France, and is
awarded to the competitor who has the highest point total from adding up
the points from the selective trials to the points obtained in the
Championship of France trial.
SELECTION FOR THE
The selection of competitors for the Championship of France, limited to 20
dogs, is determined by adding up the two best scores, obtained under 2
different qualified judges in selective competitions during the season in
question, which extends from January 1 to December 31 preceding the
year of the Championship.
on trials originally provided by Mr. Paul Le Goff, Société Centrale Canine;
information on more recent revisions comes from the website of the Commission d'Utilisation Nationale
Chiens de Troupeaux.
of the earliest trials included a class for cattle dogs, but these
weren’t regularly held. The
present-day trials for cattle work were first held in 1991.
Information and rules regarding the trials on cattle
are on the website of the Commission d'Utilisation Nationale Chiens de
Information and rules regarding the
herding instinct test, the Certificat
d'Aptitudes Naturelles Troupeaux, or CANT -- which may be held on sheep or
cattle -- can also be found on
the Commission d'Utilisation Nationale Chiens de
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