At its inception, the Westminster Kennel Club was a sportsmen’s association, with members largely interested in working their sporting dogs in the field. Westminster’s logo is a Pointer named Sensation, a dog that was imported by one of its members in the 1870’s to strengthen American breeding stock. A dedication to responsible breeding of purpose-bred dogs is at the core of Westminster’s mission. More than a century later, Westminster believes that preservation of sporting dog breeds can best be achieved by supporting performance events that highlight purebreds doing their jobs as originally intended in a natural landscape.
Historically, AKC Field Trials were created as the ultimate performance event to test a dog’s form and function. Owners, breeders, and spectators alike, could watch handlers and their dogs work together as a team to showcase what they were bred to do. AKC Hunting Tests were introduced later as a non-competitive event to test a dog’s instincts in the field. In 1986, following the success of the Retriver Hunting Tests, a seminar was hosted by the Westminster Kennel Club, showcasing the Hunting Test program for Retrievers, Pointing Breeds, and Spaniels, and was attended by 550 people. The idea of Hunting Tests for Pointing Breeds became popular and by 2007 Westminster held its first Sanctioned Hunting Test Pointing Breeds Match.
The Westminster Kennel Club Hunting Test For Pointing Breeds became an annual AKC-licensed event from 2008 to 2015 and included Junior Hunter, Senior Hunter, and Master Hunter classes. The Westminster Kennel Club became the first all-breed kennel club to host an AKC Hunting Test for Pointing Breeds event. The well-attended tests were held at the Tamarack Game Preserve in upstate New York. The Hunting Test for Pointing Breeds events drew yearly entries from at least 18 to a high of 30 in 2012. In 2014, the event was expanded to a two-day event with more than twenty 20 entries each day. These events highlighted the relationship between conformation and field performance of the sporting dog. In fact, several participating dogs were also entered at or the offspring of dogs entered at the Westminster Kennel Club All-Breed Benched Dog Show. The last Hunting Test for Pointing Breeds event was held on September 19-20, 2015 in Millbrook, New York.
Since 2017, the Westminster Kennel Club has continued its support of performance events by offering the Westminster Kennel Club Cup, a perpetual trophy to commemorate the win of the AKC Pointing Breed Gun Dog Championship. The trophy is an antique sterling silver, horn-handled trophy cup by Dieges & Clust (ca. 1910). New in 2019, the club offered The Westminster Kennel Club Trophy for the AKC Pointing Breed Walking Gun Dog Championship. This trophy is a sterling silver, two-handled cup with lid by Crichton Brothers London (ca. 1907). The two trophies are retained by the Westminster Kennel Club, and are displayed annually at the championships. A sterling silver trophy to commemorate the win is awarded to each winner by the Westminster Kennel Club.