What are herding trials?

Dog Herding trials in Australia

Border Collie competes in herding trial. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Herding trials involve dogs moving animals usually sheep around a field, fences, gates, or enclosures as directed by their handlers. The dogs get to perform the basic ‘farm work’ they once were bred for.

In Australia, all dogs in herding trials must pass the Instinct test prior to moving on. Next is the Herding trials test, followed by a Pre-Trial before the dog can enter a Trial.

Herding Trials are conducted over three different Courses, A, B & C.  Course A is a smaller area, Course B has more space and Course C is conducted over a larger area to test all the skills a dog might need to have in the daily management of stock. Some dogs or breeds are more suited to one course or another but a dog can compete in any or all.

The stock to be used for Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) Herding Tests and Pre-Trial Tests are sheep and/or ducks and/or cattle.

What ANKC titles can be attained?

Each course has three levels, started, intermediate and advanced. A dog requires three passes under two different judges to attain a title at each level as it moves up the ladder to the highly respected herding champion title.

Is my dog suitable?

All breeds of herding origin are eligible for ANKC titles including Border Collie, Australian Kelpie, Australian Cattle Dog, Bernese Mountain dogs, Norwegian Elkhound, Samoyed, Keeshond, Kerry Blue, Tibetan and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, Standard and Giant Schnauzers. Dogs of mixed breeds may compete providing they are a mix or apparent mix of herding breeds. These dogs must be associate registered dogs with the ANKC.

Age restriction: A puppy must be at least 6 months of age before it can enter an ANKC Herding Instinct Test.

Where can I do herding trials?

Find a dog club near you by contacting ANKC‘s State member bodies.

Dogs ACT

Dogs West

Dogs Queensland

Dogs NT

Dogs NSW

Dogs SA

Dogs Tasmania

Dogs Victoria