United Belgian Shepherd Dog
UBSDA Character Test
Program provided by Jona Decker
With its roots in the European style of dog showing, it's no surprise that UBSDA shows look a little different
than other breed shows. A fairly recent addition to the UBSDA suite is a formal French-style Character Test,
which was instituted at the 2002 National Specialty.
The UBSDA Character Test is an attempt to offer an entry-level test that explores drive, resilience, thresholds,
and nerve quality specific to the BSD.
The UBSDA Character Test
In the UBSDA Character Test there are two options; a Simple Character Test (SCT) and a Full Character Test
(FCT). The SCT consists of two parts: sociability with people and resistance to acoustic stress. The FCT adds a
third component to the simple test: an assessment of instinctive courage and steadiness of character.
Sociability with people is a basic requirement for the Belgian Shepherd Dog to be accepted as a welcome member
of the family and society as a whole in contemporary times.
Resistance To Acoustic Stress
As dogs have taken a more and more important part in the active life of their masters, so has their ability to
cope with sudden and varied noises taken on more importance.
A gunshot represents a synthesis of these noises and is easily reproduced consistently for the purpose of testing.
Courage & Steadiness Of Character
As protector and guardian of his master, his master's family and property, the Belgian Shepherd Dog must be
courageous while also stable and approachable as required in the first test of Sociability.
This courage is tested in the context of sport "bitingness" using a tug or rag type toy, and should not be
confused with an aggressive or defensive reaction.
This basic difference can be determined by stroking the dog during the hold. A stable dog will ignore the
stroking hand and will hold on while a defensive dog will release the hold to snap at the hand.
Threatening the dog (with the hand or cane) enables the courage and fighting spirit of the dog to be tested
during the hold. The tester can at this time judge whether the dog's commitment indicates its reliability.
UBSDA Character Test
Character Test for Belgian Shepherd Dogs
Application for Participation and Results
Any Belgian Shepherd over the age of 12 months may participate in the Simple Character Test (Tests 1 and 2). It
is recommmended that dogs be 18 months of age to participate in the Full Character Test (Tests 1, 2, and 3).
At any UBSDA sanctioned Character Test there will be no less than two evaluators, and no more than three. It
is recommended that at least one evaluator be a breeder of Belgian Shepherds and that one be experienced in the
As soon as they leave the test ring, the owners will be given a document signifying the result. For dogs having
passed the test, a certificate will be presented or mailed. Results (pass and fail) will also be published in the
UBSDA Breed Magazine, the "Belgian Beacon."
The tester comes up to the handler and dog naturally, talks briefly to the handler and strokes the dog, which
should show no fear. If the dog refuses to be stroked by becoming aggressive or avoidant, this is allowed but it
will then have to prove itself stable by successful completion of the biting test.
A shot is fired at a distance of 45 feet, with the standing dog being held on a long and slack leash facing the
shooter. If the dog is totally indifferent to this first shot or, on the contrary, is obviously frightened, it will not
be necessary to fire a second shot.
A second shot will be fired at a distance of 45 feet only for dogs which react strongly to the first shot. Dogs
must recover their composure in order to pass the test.
A third shot may be fired in exceptional cases at a distance of 30 feet for dogs whose reaction to the first two
shots is dubious, to allow the jury to confirm their opinion.
A dog revealing fear by taking refuge against its master or lying down or escaping shall be eliminated
from the test.
3rd Part (called "Full Character Test")
An optional test. It is recommended that dogs have at least minimal "tug" training for this test. The dog is
restrained by its handler (and an additional person if necessary) on a six to nine foot lead.
The tester excites the dog with the rag/tug and cane. If the dog takes hold with determination, he gently moves
his hand to stroke his head. The tester may make sure of the dog's natural stability by goading it, which a well
balanced dog should ignore. According to its reaction, the dog will be awarded a rating of pass/fail for part 3.
A dog refusing to hold its bite for about ten consecutive seconds, or which has an aggressive reaction or
self-defensive attitude shall be eliminated from this test.
Dogs that meet all of the requirements for successful completion of the Full Character Test will be given the
Excellent: While recognizing that no dog is without faults or weaknesses in character, dogs receiving this
rating should be of utmost quality overall and possess many fine character attributes.
Those dogs will be entitled to use the initials FCT after their names.
Dogs that meet the requirements for successful completion of the Simple Character Test will be given the
Acceptable: These are dogs that are adequate in character. Dogs rated acceptable should not receive a passing
evaluation in the Full Character Test but may receive a passing evaluation in the Simple Character Test if they
meet all requirements.
Those dogs will be entitled to use the initials SCT after their names.
Dogs that do not meet the requirements for either the Simple or Full Character test will be unrated.
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