How to Become an AKC Hunt Test Judge? (All Steps Covered)

AKC Hunt Tests are getting popular due to their standard of certification. As it gains popularity, people also become curious about the job of a judge in the AKC hunt test. This curiosity raises the question “How to become a judge in AKC Hunt test”.

Their curiosity makes sense as the judge’s job seems to be fun and yet requires intellect about the hunt dogs. This is your one-stop point to know everything about the job of AKC hunt test, various types and how to become one.

How to become an AKC Hunt Test judge? The requirements are that your age should be 21 years or more and you should not have violated any guidelines by “AKC”. There is a seminar which needs your presence. For getting promoted to the next levels in the hierarchy of hunt test judge, you need to handle a dog at par with your level of proficiency.

First, I will let you know about the type of hunt tests so that you can decide your carrier path.

3 Types Of Hunt Test Judges

Following are the 3 types of hunt test judges as recognized by AKC:

Junior Hunt Test Judge

The requirements for the junior level include the age requirement of a minimum of 21 years old, be good with AKC policy and attendance in the AKC seminar. More details about the seminar in the sections later in this article. In addition to these 3, you also need to:

  1. Owned and handled a hunting dog who is certified for Junior hunt test or higher in last 7 years
  2. Being a teacher to at least one person for the junior test
  3. A dog at the Junior level (or higher) must have been qualified at least four (4) times by at least 1 of the judges

Senior Hunt Test Judge

The requirements for AKC senior test judge include all of the following:

  1. Being a judge for at least 2 junior-level tests
  2. Being an apprentice for at least one event at this senior-level judge
  3. Owned and handled a hunting dog who is certified for senior hunt test or higher in last 7 years
  4. A dog at the Senior level (or higher) must have been qualified at least four (4) times by at least 1 of the judges

As you can see that these requirements are similar to the junior level test with the difference being the increase in the hierarchy of the job.

Master Hunt Test Judge

As expected, the requirements for the master level are similar to the above two levels like age, good standing, and seminar.

The other requirements are:

  1. Being a judge for at least 2 senior-level tests
  2. Being an apprentice for at least one event at this master level judge
  3. Owned and handled a hunting dog who is certified for master hunt test or higher in last 7 years
  4. A dog at the master level must have been qualified at least four (5) times by at least 1 of the judges

How to Train for AKC Hunt Test

The requirements and type of hunt test judges have been explained above. Now I will explain these requirements in more detail below:

The Judge’s Seminar

The minimum age requirement is self-explanatory as AKC does want some maturity in the individual who is going to be judging and certifying the hunt dogs.

Let me explain about the seminar in this section so that you are better equipped for it.

I attended my seminar in one month back at the Idaho Retriever Club. Overall, it was a good experience and I gained a lot of knowledge from it.

The length of the test is 7 hours and it started as 8:00 AM. The test went from 8:00 AM to 5:15 PM.

I am by no means a hunt test judge, I attended it for my own experience so as to learn what all is required when a lab is up for the junior AKC hunt test. Since I gained so much knowledge by going through the process, I have laid out the complete know-how about the AKC hunt test process in this article.

There is a scoring system for the dogs who appear for the test and the final score is used to determine if the dog has passed the test or not.

The seminar in itself explains the complete process for the various test types. As you may have noticed by now that there are no separate seminars for individual test types. Hence a single seminar caters to all the types of AKC hunt tests. Some of the important points covered in the seminar are:

  1. How the test is conducted
  2. The duties of the judge
  3. How to take care of dogs who appear for tests
  4. The scoring system

These seminars are held in official AKC clubs around the USA. So, you can search for an AKC club in your area and get a location for it. Call them up to know the dates for the next seminar.

This is the Key Requirement to Become AKC Hunt Test Judge

Ok, so I have covered age and seminar requirements above. Now let us talk about what is the “Good Standing” requirement. By the looks of it, Good standing seems to be a subjective term. A single line meaning of this requirement is “someone who has not violated any privileges of AKC and was not suspended”.

Some of the most common reasons which result in suspension include:

  1. Abusive or cruelty towards animals (not limited to dogs)
  2. Any history of domestic violence
  3. Convicted in any case related to abuse to children

The above 3 points are some indicators to tell you what AKC expects. There is more to it but the above 3 are sufficient for our purpose of understanding the meaning of “Good Standing”.

It is more about how the person behaves in his life and his outlook towards animals, family, and children. AKC seeks people who are fair with their decisions in life and not seen as extreme cases of violence of any kind.

AKC Hunt Test Judge

Helping Judges Junior to You

This may look as a big responsibility. But after I attended that seminar, I gained so much knowledge that now I am confident to apprentice other junior tests. I must admit that I would look at being an apprentice as impossible by me before attending the seminar.

The seminar also gave me the confidence and information that I am sharing here in this article.

The purpose of being an apprentice is to help the judges assigned to the event and supervise the test to make sure everything goes smoothly and as per AKC rules.

When you are apprenticing a test, some queries may come up from newbies like:

  1. The criteria behind scoring a specific dog compared to another dog.
  2. The way the test was conducted.
  3. In which ways the dogs get good score. It’s kind of feedback for the dog who got a low score.

While the seminar gives theoretical knowledge, being on the test and apprenticing tests is going to give the required practical knowledge.

The one requirement for the apprentice job is to first fill the form named as “Apprentice Judges Affirmation” form. It is available on the AKC website.

AKC Hunt Test Judge Requirements

The most common requirements which may turn off people is that the test event requires presence for two complete days. If the test is scheduled on Tuesday then you need to be there for Monday as well as Tuesday. So prepare yourself and your dog accordingly when going for the AKC hunt test for your dog.

They will explain what is expected from the dog and how the complete process of testing the dog will go. This will give you a better idea of the testing process.

The first-hand experience when getting your dog tested for the hunting will also help you when you want to become a judge for the test.


Since new judges get so much occupied in the whole testing process, they forget that the safety during the event is so important. People like volunteers, dog owners and audience need safety. The dogs also need special care and the event is not natural stuff to them.

Be ready to say No if anything unusual is asked for you. This could be any activity that AKC doesn’t want an apprentice to do like throw birds or to run a dog.

The roles of both an apprentice and a judge are pre-defined and hence they should only focus on what is expected from them and avoid any disciplinary action.

AKC Hunt Test Requirements

Scoring DOGS at AKC Hunt Tests

The AKC scoring system is quite popular. There are a number of parameters that go into giving a final score for the dog. While the dog is on the field, the judges will keep on writing down the points for each attribute. You should also write down your own scores and see for yourself how does your scoring differs from that of the judges.

I recommend this because it allows comparing your interpretation of the scoring system versus the judges. After you have discussed the differences with the judge, you will feel more confident about the right way to score a dog.

In addition to the comparison of scoring with the judges, you can also take this opportunity to ask them any queries that you may have. Also, it is a great idea to prepare your list of questions beforehand so that you don’t miss clarifying any doubts that you may have about the whole AKC hunt testing process.

Owning Hunt Dogs For the Level You Are Testing

If you are looking for just employment, this requirement would feel as a bummer. However, if you love duck dogs or shed dogs then you will agree to this requirement.  When you own a retriever or pointer dog then you can very well judge other dogs in their tests

Actually, there are so many things involved in scoring a dog that a novice person can easily go wrong. Owning a hunting dog adds so many benefits. This relates to the various skills that are expected from the dogs in AKC tests. With each increment in the level of test, the number of difficulty of skills also increases.

By owning a dog at a specific level, the perspective judge can better understand the skills currently acquired by the dog who is undergoing the test. A dog owner appearing for the junior hunt test would never want his dog to be tested for the senior or master test.

When the dog owner knows about this requirement, it makes them more comfortable with the whole testing process. He is able to better relate to the judge

Owning Hunt Dogs

AKC Test Judge Points System

AKC wants the judges present on the day of the test to have past experience in judging the tests. When a judge completes an event, they are given points for that level of the test. Junior test points are different from senior and senior test points are different from the master test.

The whole purpose of adding this point accumulation system is to maintain the quality of the testing process.

Whenever an event is organized by a club, the organizers at that club have to make sure that at least 6 experience points are accumulated by the judges in total. So, they can have two judges with one having 2 points and others having 4 points. Like I said above, the test points from various test types cannot be mixed up.  

For senior test events, two judges with a total of 6 points are required. Similarly, for the senior hunt test, 2 judges with a total of 6 points are required.

I went ahead and told about this requirement to my fellow dog owners and asked for their opinion on it. They were in agreement to this requirement as it standardizes the selection of judges across every testing hunter. It adds more value and trust in terms of fair testing.

How to Keep Your Eligibility as AKC Hunt Test Judge

There are few things which you need to keep in mind when considering yourself for a carrier in AKC hunt test for dogs:

  1. After attending the seminar, a test event has to be judged within 3 years. If this is not done then the whole process of registering for the Hunt test judge and attending seminar needs to be done again.
  2. Everybody wants to progress in his/her life. The AKC hunt test has 3 levels of judges and you wouldn’t want to stay at the same level in terms of testing the dogs. If you keep doing the good work without violating the “Good Standing” guidelines, AKC will promote you.
  3. As you gain experience in handling dogs, there are a whole lot of carrier options that open up. You can start private coaching for other dog owners or create a video course for counseling the dogs or start your own website/YouTube channel for providing knowledge and details about the test.
  4. There is also an exam conducted by AKC to keep the judges up to date with the process. This exam is conducted every four years for a judge and is an open-book test and the passing percentage requirement is 90%.
  5. Since there is this requirement of owning a dog at the level of test that you are judging, the learning can never stop for you also. The better qualified your own dog is, the more benefits you get in terms of seniority in the judging process.
  6. There is a seven-year time period set by AKC. If no dog is tested by you in the last seven years then you are not allowed to start judging dogs after seven years. The whole process will start again for you.

Attend AKC Advanced Seminars

Apart from attending the seminar that I mentioned above which is also a requirement from AKC, there is another advanced seminar offered by AKC around the country.

The purpose of the advanced seminar is to allow you to skip the exam. Some people don’t like the idea of sitting an exam and for them, the advanced seminar is scheduled. Contact your nearest club to check for the next date for the advanced seminar.

The requirements for the advanced seminar are:

  1. You must have attended the basic seminar.
  2. You have complete 3 hunt test events.

Attending the advanced seminar is optional and also anyone can attend it. If the person attending the advanced seminar has already attended a basic seminar in the past then only, he gets the credit of skipping the exam.

Judges Affirmation Form

The registration simply involves filling a form given by AKC. It’s called the Judges Affirmation Form. It’s also available online for download and you can take a print out of it. Fill it and submit it to the nearest club.

This is a requirement from AKC to have submitted this form before a judge is appointed for any event. Every time you attend a test event, the secretory in charge will also confirm that you have filled the Affirmation form. The affirmation form itself needs to be filled only once in your whole carrier.

Legal Disclaimer: The information given in this article is not promoted or sponsored by AKC.



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