Shed Antler Program
Shed Antler Tests and Trials are fun ways to engage your dog’s searching and retrieving skills in a manner similar to practical shed antler hunting! Your dog needs an NDS Competition Number to compete- click HERE to register for a number.
Shed Antler Trials are in-person events that evaluate your dog’s skills against a performance standard and against the speed of other dogs.
Four levels of competition exist currently. Earn placement and title ribbons!
Click below for the full rule book or scroll down to learn more about title options in shed antler trials!
Tests are set up to evaluate specifically skill elements within the sport. Tests can be organized, in person events, or you can video your dog completing the specific test elements and submit them for evaluation. Less space is required for tests compared to trials. Complete all the element tests to earn your dog’s Skill Verified badge!
More info about Shed Antler tests coming soon!
Shed Antler Trial Levels
Level 1- Locate
This level is meant to test your dog’s ability to locate antlers at an introductory level. Dogs will search a 100×100 foot course with natural or natural-mimicking elements to search around, attempting to locate a single antler. The judge will determine when the dog has found the antler independently, and the handler will have the option to either ask the dog to retrieve it, or collect the antler themself and proceed to finish line.
- One handler and one dog will work off leash or on a minimum 20 foot long line (for unfenced areas) searching for a single antler which will be clearly visible and accessible- never buried or hidden from view, but should not be known to the handler before the class starts.
- Time starts when dog crosses the startline, and ends when dog, handler and antler cross the finish line.
- Handlers may not move faster than a WALK at any time. (Dogs can move any speed!)
- Course will include elements of natural vegetation such as sticks, tree branches, leaf piles, or water elements- but the antler will not be concealed by any of these.
- The antler hide location will be the same for each dog in this level- a second round may be set with a different, but similar style hide location for dogs belonging to handlers who have already run the course.
- 5 minute time limit
- Handlers may move around the course to direct the search but the dog must locate the antler and provide an indication of recognition/interest that is discernable to the judge. This may include a retrieve, but a retrieve is not needed to pass.
- A qualifying score is earned when the dog successfully finds the antler on their own, and the handler, dog and antler cross the finish line before the 5 minute limit has transpired.
- A 30 second penalty is added to if the dog potties on the course- handlers must clean up any poop while the clock runs but may still finish their turn.
- Handlers can provide their own SHED antler (cut antlers/pieces cannot be used) or use the standard trial deer antler in this level.
Level 2- Double Retrieve
Dogs may enter level 2 without first having titled in level 1, but must complete level 2 before competing in level 3.
Level 2 courses involve a search area at least 100×100 feet or as large as 200×200 feet, and should have no more than medium cover.
Dogs are required to retrieve the antlers to within 3 feet of the handle.
Two antlers are hidden on course. Then will not be buried or suspended.
- Dog must retrieve antler to hand or at least to within 3 feet.
- Handler may not move closer than 15 feet to the dog once the antler has been found.
- Handler may encourage a retrieve with walking away and /or backward steps.
- Time starts when the dog crosses the startline and ends when the dog, handler, and two antlers cross the finish line.
- Time limit of 6 minutes.
- Antlers used are provided by the trial host and will be wiped between dogs, with rack wax scent reapplied to the pedicle of the antler for each dog.
- Pottying on course adds a 30 second time penalty for each occurrence.
Level 3- Hidden Antlers
Dogs must have their level 2 title in order to compete at level 3. In this level, 3 antlers will be placed in a natural course which should include treed areas, shoreline, hills, ditches, or other naturally occurring challenges. One antler will be partly buried in light vegetation (leaves or light, unsecured branches) or partly submerged in naturally occurring water or snow.
More info coming soon!
Level 4 -Mystery Search
mA level 3 title is required to compete in level 4. Level 4 will have between 3 and 5 antlers to search for, with the number unknown to the handler. Two antlers will have challenges that may include being partly buried, partly suberged, or dangling. Larger obstacles may exist on level 4 courses which create additional challenges (
More info coming soon!
Earning Titles- Overview
Dogs must be a minimum of 6 months of age to compete in shed antler trials. There is no upper age limit.
Dogs can begin competing at either Level 1, Level 2, or both. Level 1 is not required to complete level 2- but level 2 title must be completed in order to enter level 3, and level 3 must be completed to move up to level 4. Dogs are not required to move up and may continue to run at lower levels as long as they choose.
4 Qualifying scores are required in each level to pass.
Placement ribbons are offered for dogs earning first, 2nd, or 3rd in each class.
Two height classes exist – rules are the same for each size class but for placement purposes, dogs only compete against dogs in their own size group.
-Open dogs (dogs 16inches and over) and Small breeds (dogs less than 16 inches)