About Retriever Hunting Tests
AKC Retriever Hunting Tests were designed to give the dog owner a good, basic hunting dog and provide a place to run and compete. Here the dog is not competing against the other entries, but against a "standard." This "standard" was established by AKC as a means of judging good hunting retrievers and is modified periodically as and when needed.
Dogs are judged in three divisions; Junior, Senior, and Master. The Junior dog is judged only on marked retrieves, no blinds and the dog need not be steady, but may be held. This is generally the beginning level for most people. Senior is the next step and here the dog in addition to marked retrieves must also be able to deal with relatively easy blind retrieves, honoring another dog's retrieve, and be steady. Master is the top level and here the dog is required to retrieve difficult marking situations such as three or more birds down prior to being sent to retrieve and be able to honor another dog's retrieve. The dog in general must exhibit those qualities which must be expected in a truly finished and experienced hunting retriever.
All test levels should be designed to simulate, as nearly as possible, true hunting situations and natural hazards, obstacles, numerous decoys. Hunting equipment and implements should be used to help with this effort. While at the same time the judges must keep in mind that in a hunting "test," we are testing dogs not "hunting." This is quite important as everything that happens while hunting does not necessarily make for a good Hunting Test.