The Importance of Pedigree


Buying a new puppy is a big commitment and making the right decision can seem difficult. Your new gun dog will be your family companion, hunting partner, and training buddy for many years. It’s important to do your homework and look at this purchase as an investment in your future gun dog! Starting out with a good pedigree is essential and will give you the best odds for having a healthy, natural, hunting dog for many years to come. 

 In this article, I’ll break down the two major components of a good pedigree and what to look for when selecting a new gun dog. The two components are, hunt test and field trial titles, and health clearances. 

 This article covers the most popular titles and health clearances. Please do as much research as you can before making a decision. Different breeds are susceptible to different diseases and they could also run different hunt test games. Remember, knowledge is power! 

AKC Titles: American Kennel Club


Hunt Tests- These titles are found at the end of the dog’s registered name. For more information on AKC hunt tests, click here.


MNH: Master National Hunter

MH: Master Hunter 

SH: Senior Hunter 

JH: Junior Hunter

 Field Trials- These titles are found at the beginning of the dog’s registered name. For more information on AKC field trials, click here.

 NFC: National Field Champion

NAFC: National Amateur Field Champion

FC: Field Champion

AFC: Amateur Field Champion

QAA: Qualified All Age (This is not a true title because it isn’t found on their pedigree certificate, but it is a very good indication of the dog’s talent. QAA is placed at the end of the registered name) 


 UKC Titles: United Kennel Club - UKC tests are run under the Hunting Retriever Club, or more commonly referred to as, HRC tests. For more information on HRC tests, click here.

 GRHRCH: Grand Hunting Retriever Champion

HRCH: Hunting Retriever Champion

HR: Hunting Retriever

SHR: Started Hunting Retriever

UH: Upland Hunter


NAHRA Titles: North American Hunting Retriever Association - For more information on NAHRA hunt tests, click here.

 GMHRCH: Grand Master Hunting Retriever Champion

GMHR: Grand Master Hunting Retriever

MHR: Master Hunting Retriever

WR: Working Retriever

HR: Hunting Retriever

SHR: Started Hunting Retriever

 Health Clearances:

 When purchasing a new pup, it is important to make sure the parents and grandparents were healthy animals. Any reputable breeder will check the health of the parents and provide the results to the puppy owners. If the parents do not have health clearances, steer clear and look for another breeder.

 OFA: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - You’ll want to make sure that the parents and grandparents were tested for hip dysplasia! Parents who’s joints are rated “Good” or “Excellent” are ideal. Anything less, I’d steer clear. 

 Side Note: My dog, Buck came from parents who were rated “Excellent” and “Good,” and he still ended up with hip dysplasia. Sometimes bad things happen, and all the research in the world can’t save you from a stroke of bad luck. 

 Many breeders will do an exam for eyes, elbows etc. These clearances are a little less common but are nice to have.

 EIC: Exercise Induced Collapse - This is a genetic problem which is passed down from the parents. Basically, when the dog works hard in the field, their body will shut down. The dog’s back legs give out and the dog will literally collapse in the field. 

 Here are the three designations you will see: 

 EIC Clear - This means the dog is not affected by the disorder and is good to go

EIC Carrier - This means the dog carries the gene for EIC, but is not affected by the disease

EIC Affected - This dog has the disease and will have the negative effects of the disease

 Breeding an EIC Clear dog with an EIC Carrier will result in roughly half the puppies being clear and half the puppies being a carrier. Breeding a clear with a clear means the puppies will not carry the gene. Breeding an affected dog is highly unlikely, but can happen if the breeders do not check their dogs. You do not want a dog that is affected, that is why it is so important to buy from a breeder that tests their dogs. 

 CNM: Centronuclear Myopathy - This disease, plainly put, is muscular dystrophy in the canine form. 

CNM Clear - The dog is cleared from the genetic mutation

CNM Carrier - The dog carries the gene for CNM, but is not affected by the mutation

CNM Affected - The dog carries the gene and is affected by the mutation

 Many people say, “I don’t need to spend a lot of money on a dog, or need a dog with a pedigree.” This is totally wrong! When you purchase a puppy whose parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents played in the hunting games, you will have a good indication of what your dog will be like. The dog’s natural desire to retrieve, trainability, intelligence, athleticism, and love for their job is tested in hunt tests and field trials. If a dog is successful in these games, the odds that their offspring will carry the strong and desirable traits as well. If you choose to buy a puppy without proven success, you could end up with a couch potato versus the hunting dog of your dreams! 

 Take your time, do the research, and pick a puppy who's parents are healthy and have played in the hunt test games. You’ll be glad you did!


Watch our Free Video and E-book on picking the right puppy Here!


Here are some helpful links to learn more:


K9 Contenders 

Retriever Training Forum

Hunting Lab Pedigree

Labrador Retriever Club

Boykin Spaniel Society 

American Chesapeake Bay Retriever Club

Golden Retriever Club of America

Flat-Coated Retriever Society

Curly Coated Retriever Club of America

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club of America 

American Water Spaniel Club

Irish Water Spaniel Club of America

English Spring Spaniel Field Trial Association

The American Brittany Club 

German Shorthair Pointer Club

German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America

For a full list of Sporting Breeds, click here



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