More about Field Trials

Field Trial Rules

Basset Hound Field Trials are governed by the American Kennel Club Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedures for Basset Hounds.  As with all AKC Events, it is a great idea to read the rules and regulations to fully understand how field trials are held and judged.  You can download it from the AKC website at

A premium list will be available with the Field Trial details and an entry form.  Entries for Field Trials are normally done the day of the trial, before the draw.  Newbies are welcome and encouraged to participate.  Most experienced attendees will be happy to answer questions and lend assistance.

Field Trials are run under one of three procedures:

  • Brace on Rabbit or Hare
  • Small Packs on Rabbit or Hare
  • Large Packs on Hare

How does a Field Trial work?

On the morning of the Field Trial, entries are presented to the Field Trial Secretary and a draw is held.  Depending on whether the trial is brace, small pack or large pack, the procedure may vary slightly.  For this explanation, we are assuming this is a Field Trial running Brace.

Once the draw is held, those who have dogs in the first brace will take them to the field at the judges’ direction.  Generally, the next brace in line will be nearby, ready to proceed after the first brace is done.  After all the braces have been judged, the dogs will be brought back for second series in the order the judges feel they placed with the exception that an identical brace cannot run together again.  There may be another call back if necessary.

In addition to the Judges, there will be a “Marshal(s)” (depending on the procedure used) who will assist the judges, and maintain control of the Gallery.  The Gallery normally “Beats the Brush” to help in finding a rabbit for the brace or pack competing.  A spotter(s) will mark the entry point into the brush where a rabbit was seen.

Whoever sees a rabbit will signal “Tally Ho” and let the judges and handlers know where the rabbit went, without interfering with the line or the hounds.

Hounds normally are fitted with brightly colored collars, different than their brace-mate, so the judges are able to tell the dogs apart.  The Bassets should find game, pursue it decisively and show determination.

Hounds may be cast to search for game, or placed on a line.  Once dogs are down (have been cast or placed on a line), their handlers may not talk to them.


The regular classes are Open All-Age Dogs and Open All-Age Bitches.  If when entries close, there are less than six entries, the classes can be combined and run with both sexes in a single class.  There is a non-regular Champion Class, for dogs and bitches who have their Field Champion Title.  Sometimes, a Derby Class is offered, for Basset Hounds who have not yet turned two years of age.  Judges may place Bassets first, second, third and fourth in each class.  (They may withhold awards for lack of merit).  After fourth place is awarded, judges may select a NBQ, Next Best Qualified.

What does it take to acquire the title, Field Champion?

To complete a Field Championship, a Basset Hound must have placed in Open All Age classes at eight or more trials and have placed 1st in at least two and have won a total of 60 championship points in classes which have had six or more entries. Points are awarded as follows: First Place – 1 point for each starter (competitor); Second Place – ½ point for each starter; Third Place – 1/4 point for each starter; and Fourth Place – 1/8 point for each starter.  (Starters are entered, eligible hounds that have not been disqualified).  A Field Champion may be designated as a “Dual” Champion if it has also been awarded Champion of Record (Conformation).  A dog who has excelled and is also an Obedience Trial Champion, Champion Tracker and Mach (Master Agility Champion) may be designated as a “Triple Champion.”

What do judges look for?

Desirable Qualities that the Bassets should show in the field are:

  • Searching ability

Aptitude to recognize promising cover and the desire to explore it.

  • Pursuing ability

Proficient control of the trail, while making progress.

  • Accuracy in trailing

Following a trail with minimal weaving.

  • Proper use of voice.

A dog should proclaim all finds, note progress by giving tongue and maintaining quiet when not in contact with the trail.  

  • Endurance

The ability of the Basset to go as long as necessary without giving up.

  • Adaptability

A Basset Hound should be able to adjust to changing conditions and work with running mates.  If it loses a scent, the ability to work close, then farther if necessary to find the correct line.

  • Patience

The Basset should show a willingness to work through any problem encountered. 

  • Determination

The Hound should persevere against all odds, overcome any obstacle that might frustrate lesser running mates.  

  • Independence

The ability to be reliant on his own, not influenced by faulty hounds.  

  • Cooperation

The Basset should work harmoniously with its running mate, and honor their accomplishment without disrupting the chase.

  • Competitive Spirit

Only an asset if a Basset can desire to outdo its running mate, without losing control and maintaining focus on the task at hand.

  • Intelligence

An intelligent hound will learn from its mistakes and adapts to changes in conditions.  

Faulty Actions that you hope not to see are:

  • Quitting

A serious fault which can in the extreme cause elimination.  Dogs may quit from fatigue or simply show a lack of desire to hunt. 

  • Backtracking

Following a trail in the wrong direction.  Some lenience may be allowed if a dog was led by a faulty running mate.  

  • Ghost trailing

Some hounds may pretend to have contact with trail.  

  • Pottering

Lack of effort or desire to make forward progress on a trail.  

  • Babbling

Excessive or unnecessary tonguing.

  • Swinging

Casting too far out from the last point of contact of a trail.

  • Skirting

Leaving a trail to gain a lead or avoid difficult cover.

  • Leaving checks

Failure to stay where a trail was lost, and off in hope of finding a new trail.

  • Running Mute - Tightness of mouth

Failure to give tongue when making progress on the line.

  • Racing

An attempt by the Basset to out run running-mates, often overshooting the turns.  

  • Running hit or miss

Attempting to make progress without maintaining contact with the line.

  • Lack of Independence

Allowing other hounds to determine the course of action.

  • Bounding off

Rushing ahead when a scent is found without determining the direction the game has travelled. 

I need assistance in getting more information about Field Trials.  What can I do?

If you need assistance in getting more information about field trials, contact the FTAC Chair, Jan Allison at

Join in the fun and try Field Trials!

Don’t be intimidated.  Look for a BHCA Member Club in your area and inquire about field trials.  Join the gallery for the first one and enjoy your day.  You’ll meet wonderful, dedicated people, some fabulous Basset Hounds and may become interested in learning more about this terrific event.  If your Basset has a PAL number and isn’t able to Field Trial, you might consider the Hunting Performance Test.