Mastiff Club of America – National Specialty

Draft Testing

Draft Test Regulations

The MCOA Draft Test is a series of exercises designed to demonstrate the abilities of purebred
mastiffs in a land work capacity. The performance of these skills is intended to demonstrate
teamwork between dog and handler resulting from both natural ability, and training that is
applicable to realistic work situations.

Dogs must be willing to work with their handlers, and the exercises must be accomplished
efficiently. The goal of each handler is to maintain control while encouraging the dog’s natural
independence. Each handler must also demonstrate a working knowledge of drafting and be
familiar with training and equipment.

These rules are a set of standards by which dogs and handlers are judged at an MCOA Draft
Test. These rules are not a training guide for draft work.

A Draft/Carting Test will be held each year in conjunction with the MCOA National Specialty.
Timing of the test must be coordinated with the National Specialty Chairperson at least 8 months
prior to the Specialty. A Carting Test may also be held at any MCOA supported entry show or
any Regional Mastiff Club show. Carting Tests may also be held in conjunction with other
breeds draft tests as long as MCOA rules are followed and the Judge is MCOA Approved. All
tests must have prior written approval of the MCOA Working Dog Committee.

The Draft Test Chairman will coordinate the actual test, and must enforce the regulations. The
Draft Test Chairman will provide to the show secretary the following information:
A. Date and location of test
B. Judge’s name
C. Entry limit
D. If only one type of freight haul will be offered and which type
E. A statement regarding entrant’s responsibility for obtaining a copy of these
F. The name/address of Working Dog Committee Secretary from whom entrants can
obtain a copy of the rules.
G. An entry form that includes a signature and date line and a statement that reads: “I
enter my dog in this draft test at my own risk. I agree to abide by the MCOA Draft
Test Regulations. I have read and understand the draft test regulations.” Entry forms
must also include the standard AKC required information.

The MCOA National appointed Secretary or Regional Club representative will acknowledge
entries and inform of start time, and location. If entries exceed the entry limit, alternates must be
notified of their place on the alternate list. A copy of the rules must be available at the show site
and to the judge. A written report must be submitted to the Working Dog Chairperson by the
Draft Test Chair that includes judge’s sheets, test description, exhibitor feedback, and problems.

The judge will be selected from the list provided by the Mastiff Working Dog Committee.
Individuals that are approved to judge Draft tests in the following breeds may also judge MCOA
Draft tests: Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, St. Bernard, Rottweiler, and
Newfoundland. A judge will be selected based on locale. A copy of MCOA rules must be
provided to the judge 60 days prior to the test. MCOA members may apply to the Working Dog
Committee to become a Draft Dog Judge after placing at least one Draft Dog Title and one
Obedience title on a dog.

MCOA Draft Tests are open to all purebred mastiffs at least 18 month of age. Dog refers to
either sex. ALL entered dogs must have an AKC #, ILP#, or foreign registration number. Dogs
must have useable vision and hearing to compete.

No dog belonging to in part or in whole, or bred by the Draft Test Judge for this event or
member of his/her family may compete. The Draft Test Chairperson may exhibit a dog in this

The dog must be handled by the same person for all exercises, with the exception of the long
down and the freight haul. If a handler has more than one dog entered, an additional handler
must be available for the group exercises (long down and freight haul).

The judge for the following reasons must immediately disqualify dogs:
A. The dog attacks a person or dog on the show grounds, or shows aggression towards the
judge or handler.
B. The handler interferes with another handler or dog, or shows unsportsmanlike behavior in
or outside the ring. (i.e. abusive language, mistreating dog, etc)
C. The dog shows any sign of lameness.
D. The dog appears to be in undue distress.
The judge will mark the dog disqualified and state the reason on the judge’s report.

Bitches in season may not compete. A refund will be given upon receipt of a veterinarian letter
stating date of season. Letters should be submitted to test chairperson prior to start of test.

At the draft test, the judges’ decision is final in all matters affecting scoring of the dogs, and any
matters that might cause disqualification of the dog.

Entries must be received prior to the closing date of the test. Test Chairperson may set the
number of entries accepted. An announcement of test limits must be prominently displayed in
the premium list. Priority will be given to dogs that have not yet earned a draft title. An
Alternate list will be maintained with all entries received beyond the limit. If absentees occur
prior to the start of the test, alternates will be allowed to compete based on their position on the

For a dog to receive a qualifying score, the judge must mark the dog passed in each exercise. A
dog receiving a qualifying score in the Novice division may use the initials DD: Draft Dog. A
dog receiving a qualifying score in the OPEN division may use the initials DDX after its name,
and any dogs receiving a qualifying score in the Brace division may use the DDB after their
name in any MCOA activity. The DD and DDX certificate will also satisfy the Draft portion of
the Working Dog titles.

At least two stewards will be provided to assist the judge for each exercise.

A safety officer will be appointed and is responsible for insuring that all non-participating dogs
are kept on lead or crated and outside and away from the main test area.

The ring for basic control will be at least 40’ x 50’. Test areas for maneuvering should be at
least 80’ x 100’. Only the currently competing team may enter the ring.

A. Ropes and Stakes or ring gates necessary to define the ring for the basic control and
maneuvering course.
B. Minimum of 4 markers to define the serpentine portion of the maneuvering course.
C. A removable obstacle, ideally an object which might be found in everyday carting
situations (i.e. gates, saw horses, logs, branches, highway construction cones)
D. A minimum of 4 markers to define narrow passes.
E. A tape measure of at least 6 ft. in length
F. One distraction, either visual or auditory
G. A stop watch, or watch to time down stay
H. Exhibitor numbers
I. Material suitable for the freight haul. Bags of dog food with weight marked on the bag
are acceptable.
J. Clipboard and pen for the judge.

There shall be three classes: NOVICE DRAFT, OPEN DRAFT, AND BRACE DRAFT.
A. NOVICE DRAFT: the Novice draft class shall be open to all dogs who have not earned
a title and for those dogs with a Novice DD title who wish to compete at the same level.
All obedience exercises are performed off leash. All drafting exercises are performed on
leash. The leash must be visibly slack and is not to be used to guide the dog during the
exercises. Guiding, jerking, and /or using a tight leash will result in a failing performance.
B. OPEN DRAFT: The OPEN Draft class shall be open to any dog that has earned a
Novice DD Title. All exercises shall be performed off leash.
C. BRACE DRAFT: The BRACE Draft Class shall be for two or more dogs working
together. Both dogs must have a Novice DD title. All obedience exercises are performed
off leash. All drafting exercises will be performed on leash.
Because drafting events are not held very often, handlers may enter a dog without a DD title in
both the NOVICE and OPEN divisions for an event. If the dog successfully completes the
NOVICE level, they may go on to the OPEN class at the same event. If the dog does not
successfully complete the NOVICE level, the entry fee for the OPEN class will not be refunded.
In the same manner, handlers may enter dogs without DD titles in the NOVICE and BRACE
divisions for an event. If either dog does not successfully complete the NOVICE level, the entry
fee for the BRACE class will not be refunded.

Each dog will be judged in a fair and impartial manner. Judges may make minimal adaptations
to fit the available site, but no exercise should be substantially changed.

The judge will record pass/fail information for each dog on the Judges Record Sheets following
the conclusion of the test. These sheets may be posted for entrants to view.

Catalog order will be determined by the order in which entries are received. Handlers and Dogs
must exhibit in catalog order unless the judge is notified of a potential conflict. The judge is not
required to wait for a team that is not ready for judging, and may mark them absent. Handlers
with one or more dogs entered in a class are encouraged to speak to the judge prior to the
commencement of the class about possible timing conflicts.

During the test, the judge may allow the handler to assist the dog in completing an exercise once
failed. Only gentle guidance by the collar is allowed as discipline. If a dog fails an exercise, it
will not be re-judged, unless in the judges’ opinion, an unusual circumstance affected the dogs’
performance. Any display of fear or nervousness by the dog, or any uncontrolled behavior of the
dog such as snapping, barking, or running away from the handler, whether it occurs before,
during, or between exercises, must be penalized according to the seriousness of the misbehavior,
and the judge may expel or excuse the dog from further competition in the class.

Judges must immediately excuse any dog for the following reasons:
A. The dog attacks, or attempts to attack any person or dog on the test grounds.
B. The handler behaves in an unsportsmanlike manner in or outside the testing area,
which includes but is not limited to: directing angry, abusive language at a person or a
dog, showing discourtesies to judges, stewards or others.
C. The dog is lame, wears corrective bandages or other attachments.
D. The dog fouls the ring.

Dogs shall be judged for willingness, ability, enthusiasm, naturalness as a team and smoothness
of performance. Each exercise shall be judged on a pass/fail basis.

If at any time during the test, it becomes apparent to the judge or handler that the dog is in
distress, the exercise will be terminated and the dog marked as failed. Distress will include both
mental and physical distress. A dog may repeat the exercise if in the opinion of the judge, there
was an unusual circumstance that contributed to the dogs’ distress.

The handler must provide collar, lead, harness, traces, and cart.
A. COLLARS: All dogs must wear a well-fitted buckle, slip or snap around slip collar. No
special collars are permitted.
B. LEASHES: Any suitable leather, nylon or cloth leash is acceptable ranging in length
from 2 ft. to 6 ft. Couplers may be used in the Brace Draft.
C. HARNESS: The harness must fit the dog. The Harness must be of a type and
construction to allow the dog to pull comfortably in the maneuvering and freight haul
portions of the test. Traces should be of proper length to allow the dog proper distance
from the cart.
D. DRAFT RIG: Rig may be any cart capable of hauling the required weight and terrain of
the freight haul. Carts may be either 2 or 4 wheel vehicles. Handler must supply any
appropriate tie downs to secure the load in the rig for the freight haul. The handler must
secure the load so that it does not shift when the rig moves. Judges may excuse any team
from competition if the harness or draft rig is deemed inadequate or faulty. No person or
animal may serve as freight load. Cart should be designed to prevent rig from running up
on the dog when hauling downhill. Shaft brakes are sufficient for this purpose. No more
than two dogs entered in the same class (i.e NOVICE or OPEN) may share a cart.

These exercises involve a combination of on and off leash exercises. Dogs must be brought to
the ring on leash.

Physical praise and petting are allowed between and after exercises. Verbal praise is allowed
during the exercises. No food may be offered or carried into the ring.

During the testing a handler may give commands, signals and encouragement to the dog by
voice, and or arm/hand signal. Multiple commands and/or signals are allowed. The handler may
not physically guide the dog. While a handler may encourage his/her dog in a pleasant upbeat
manner, constant yelling or reprimands are undesirable and may cause an exercise to be failed.

A dog may be gently guided by the collar between exercises in the NOVICE class only. No
other physical guidance is permitted.

Handlers must check in 60 minutes prior to the start of the test. Thirty minutes prior to the start,
handlers and stewards must meet with the judge for instructions. Questions will be answered at
this time.

A dog’s ability to perform assigned tasks with its handler is the primary quality emphasized in a
draft test. In addition, a judge must consider the dog’s willingness and smoothness of
performance. A dog that willingly completes each exercise with out physical assistance from the
handler should be marked as passes. To earn a title, all exercises must be marked passed. Each
entrant will be informed if they have passed or failed at the completion of each series of

Obedience portion of the test will pertain to NOVICE & BRACE Draft only. Obedience
exercises will not be performed by OPEN

Each dog and handler complete the basic control section first in catalog order, and then return for
the group exercise. When this series is complete, dogs perform maneuvering in catalog order.
The handler and dog are tested to verify handler’s control over dog. Handlers are permitted to
talk to and encourage their dogs during the exercises. This series takes place in a 40’x50’ ring.
Four exercises make up this series: a heel off lead, a recall, and a three-minute group down, and
a stand stay for harnessing.

The dog will heel within arms length of the handler. The handler may not touch the dog,
but may encourage the dog to remain within arms reach at all times. The following
commands will be called: forward, slow, normal, fast, right and left turn, about turn, and
halt. The same pattern will be called for each dog.

Principle Parts of the Heel Off Lead
1. The dog performs the heeling pattern on the left side of the handler and remains
within arms reach.
2. It is preferable for the dog to perform and automatic sit after each halt but is not
necessary for a passing score. Handler may verbally ask the dog to sit after each halt.

Failing Performance
a. Handler adapts pace to dog.
b. Dog frequently heels out of handler’s reach.
c. No change of pace when called for
d. Handler physically guides or touches the dog
e. Dog leaves ring.

The dog performs the recall across the full length of the ring. The dog will stay in place
until called by the handler. The dog must respond to the first command to come. Hand
and voice may both be used. Extra commands or encouragement are allowed after the
dog is up and moving. The dog must come to the handler close enough to be touched,
and may sit facing the handler. The following commands are called: sit your dog, leave
your dog, call your dog, finish (not required to pass) and exercise finished.

Principal parts of the Recall
1. The recall uses the entire length of the ring.
2. The dog remains in place until the judge instructs the handler to call. Both hand
and voice may be used, and encouragement after the dog is moving.
Failing Performance
a. Handler gives more than one stay command.
b. Dog does not stay when told.
c. Dog does not respond to the first come command.
d. Dog does not go to handler, or remains out of reach.
e. Dog must be physically guided.
f. Dog leaves the ring

Judge instructs handler to harness dog. The handler tells dog to stay (either sit, down, or
stand), and gets harness from steward. Handler commands dog to stand and stay, and
proceeds to harness the dog. It is important that the handler demonstrate a working
knowledge of the harness and equipment. The handler may touch the dog only as
required to harness, but not to discipline. Once harnessed with traces secured up and off
the ground, the handler will again command stay and leave the dog to a distance of 6 feet.
The judge will approach and touch the dog. The judge will then command return to your
dog. The dog may move feet on the stand stay; however, he may not move from the area
where commanded to stay. The judge will then command exercise finished.

Principal Parts of the Stand for harnessing
1. The handler leaves the dog in any position and gets harness from steward. Upon
return, commands the dog to stand/stay and harnesses. The dog may be guided
into a stand.
2. The dog remains in stand stay for the judge to examine dog, and remains on stay
until the handler returns.
Failing Performance
a. Dog does not remain in place while handler gets harness.
b. Dog resists harnessing, or leaves the place where stand/stay command was given.
c. Dog shows resistance to judge’s examination.
d. Handler does not properly harness the dog with well fitting harness.

The three-minute down is a group exercise and will be held after all entrants have
completed the basic control section of the test. The down will be done with the dogs in
harness, but not hitched. This exercise will be performed off lead with the handlers
across the ring. Each group will be a maximum of ten dogs. Leads will be placed behind
the dogs. Dogs may be manually placed in a down position upon the judges’ command.
The commands are: down your dogs, leave your dogs, return, exercise finished. In
NOVICE and BRACE Draft handlers will, upon the judges command of “leave your
dogs” walk to the opposite side of the ring and turn and face their dog until told to return.

Principal Parts of the Group Down
1. The exercise is performed with the handlers across the length of the ring, and the
dogs in harness.
2. The dog may be manually positioned into a down.
3. The dogs remain down until the judge instructs handlers to return, and gives the
exercise finished statement.
Failing Performance
a. Handler gives more than one stay command
b. Dog sits or stands before handler returns, or moves a substantial distance from
original position even though staying down.

This test section begins immediately following the long down. Each dog is called in catalog
order, and will individually complete the following exercises. A draft test demonstrates
cooperation between the handler and the dog. Since a handler’s draft work knowledge and
abilities are essential to draft work, the judges must evaluate a handler’s ability to select the
appropriate type and size of equipment for their dog, and the handler’s knowledge about using
the equipment properly. Any equipment used must remain in safe working condition throughout
the draft test. Judges may fail improper or unsafe equipment during the scheduled equipment
check or any time during the remainder of the course.

Pre-test Rig placement
Prior to the start of this exercise, the handler brings the draft apparatus to the steward who places
it in the test area as instructed by the judge. Rig is empty with no weights.

Upon judge’s instruction the dog and handler enter the ring on lead. Dogs are still in
harness. The judge will start the exercise at least 6 feet from the apparatus. Handlers
will begin hitching their dogs when instructed by the judge. In NOVICE, the handler will
hitch the dog by either backing the dog into the shafts, or placing the dog on a stand stay
while bringing the apparatus to the dog. In OPEN the dog MUST back towards the
shafts, and stand to be hitched to the cart. In BRACE, teams may be hitched by placing
one dog at a time next to the tongue, or by having the dogs standing together with a
coupler and bringing the tongue up between them.

Equipment check
When the dog is hitched, the judge will indicate that the handler and dog move to a
predetermined location at least 20 feet ahead and stop for a mandatory equipment check.
During this time the judge observes the equipment to verify it is on safe operating order.
When the dog and handler have stopped at the designated location, the judge may allow
the handler to make needed adjustments; however, if the adjustments are needed it is the
handler’s responsibility to recognize this need and to make any adjustment themselves. If
in the judge’s opinion, a serious problem exists with any of the equipment and it goes
unrecognized by the handler, the judge may fail the dog in this exercise. If the handler
does not recognize a need for a MINOR adjustment that the judge feels should be made,
the judge may bring this need to the handler’s attention and the handler must make the
adjustment without further assistance.

Principal Parts of Hitching
1. The apparatus is placed in ring by steward, according to judges’ instructions.
2. The dog willingly backs for hitching (required in OPEN), or does a stand stay
while hitched.
3. The handler must properly hitch dog in a safe manner. The handler may touch
dog only as required to hitch, but may not touch to discipline
4. The handler uses equipment correctly and appropriately.
5. The dog and handler move 20 ft to indicate readiness for next portion of test, and
pass judges inspection of equipment.

Failing Performance
a. Dog refuses to back up within 30 seconds (OPEN only) or moves away when cart
is brought up behind him.
b. Dog is uncooperative and/or resists hitching.
c. The hitch is unsafe or the apparatus balance is unsafe or poorly designed.
d. Dog does not proceed forward on a loose lead, or must be forced to halt.

Novice Draft and Brace Draft Maneuvering Course
The maneuvering course for NOVICE and BRACE shall be the same pattern. The only
exception being that allowances in the widths of obstacles may be made to accommodate
the larger size of some BRACE carts. The maneuvering course will include the
 Serpentines (there must be at least 9 feet between pylons in the serpentine
 Ninety-degree turns to the left and right,
 Two narrow areas at least six feet long, one low to the ground (i.e. logs), and one
a solid narrow area at least two feet high (i.e. bales of hay),
 A removable obstacle (may be a gate to pass thru and then secure).
 There will also be a back of 3 feet required.
During BRACE Draft, two stewards in addition to the Judge will remain on the course
and at a distance so as not to interfere with the performance of the team, but to be
available in case of a problem arising.

Open Draft Maneuvering Course
OPEN draft dogs may use any obstacles found on the novice draft course and may use
circular patterns to the right and left, figure eight patterns, and dogs must demonstrate a
slow and fast at some point on the course. The slow and fast are only required in OPEN.
The command for slow pace will be “Haul Slowly” at which time the handler will
decrease their speed to a very slow walk. The command for fast shall be “Haul Fast” at
which time the handler will increase their speed to a brisk trot. OPEN Draft will be
required to back 4 feet.

Principle Parts of Maneuvering
1. The course may be worked on or off lead for NOVICE and BRACE Dogs, and
OFF lead for OPEN. When on lead, the lead must remain loose.
2. The handler may work next to, in front of, or behind the dog. The handler may
not impede the dog’s forward movement at any time. This includes stepping in
front of the dog to enforce a halt command, or stepping in front of a dog that tries
to change directions against the handlers command.
3. The dog will haul at a normal forward speed unless instructed otherwise by the
4. At the beginning of the maneuvering course, the judge will tell the handler to take
the course. There are no time constraints as long as the dog continues to work.
5. At appropriate locations along the course, the judge will command in any order
the dog and handler to slow, halt, back up at least three feet in NOVICE and
BRACE, and four feet in OPEN. The Dog should back in a willing manner and in
an approximate straight line. A maximum of 3 attempts may be made to
accomplish a three-foot back up. The Judge will instruct handlers using the
following commands: haul forward, haul slowly, stop, and back your dog. The
sequence for the commands will be the same time and location for all dogs.
BRACE dogs will be required to back one foot.
6. At the removable obstacle, the dog waits (handler instructions allowed) for the
handler to remove the obstacle, and proceeds only on command. The judge will
instruct the handler to leave the dog, and return the obstacle to its former position.
7. The dog shows definite pace changes when asked to haul slowly and haul fast in
8. The handler may not touch the draft apparatus unless special permission is
received from the judge.
Failing Performance
a. Handler impedes dog’s forward movement
b. Handler touches dog or apparatus without judges’ permission.
c. Dog refuses to obey commands or does not accompany handler.
d. Dog is worked on a tight lead.
e. Dog refuses to back the required distance.
f. Dog tries to pass moveable obstacle without waiting for handler to move it, does
not wait for handlers command to move forward, or does not stay when handler
while handlers returns obstacle to original position.
g. Dog upsets draft apparatus.
h. Dog or handler knocks over course markers. Light bumps are acceptable
i. No change in pace when called for in OPEN.

This part of the test is a group exercise that begins after all class entries have completed the
maneuvering course. Because the exercise is designed to be completed as a group, no more than
two dogs entered in the same class (i.e NOVICE or OPEN) may share a cart. The dogs will be
inside the arena when freight is loaded.

The Freight Haul may consist of a either a Short Haul (shorter distance/heavier weight) or a
Long Haul (longer distance/lighter weight). Depending on the test grounds, number of entrants,
weather conditions, and other relevant factors, the judge will determine which freight hauls will
be offered. If the judge offers both options, the handlers may choose which one they wish to
participate in. If only one type of freight haul will be offered, the information will be included in
the premium list.

Freight Haul Distance
Freight Weight
Short Haul ¼ mile 50 lbs 100 lbs
Long Haul ½ mile 25 lbs 50 lbs
The Freight Haul will be conducted outside if the test grounds and conditions permit. Freight
hauls will be held in a group, off lead (OPEN only), and may encounter various terrains. Enough
stewards will be provided for each dog for reasons of safety. Stewards will follow at a safe
distance and shall do nothing to impede the haul of the dog or interfere with the handler unless a
dangerous situation occurs.

The handler may provide their own freight material, otherwise sealed bags of pet food
may be used. Animals or people may not be used as freight. It is the handler’s
responsibility to see that the freight load is secured and balanced properly Freight Haul
The judge will issue the following commands: retrieve and load freight, haul forward,
and stop. The dog is instructed to stay while the handler retrieves and loads the freight.
The handler must secure the load without additional assistance. The freight load must be
properly balanced. The judge will command haul forward, at which time the dog and
handler will proceed around the full perimeter of the ring, returning to the initial starting
point, or stopping at the judges command. The dog must remain on a loose lead. The
judge will command the handler to unload and unhitch, at which time the handler will
command the dog to stay, and proceed to unload freight, and unhitch the apparatus.

Intriguing Distraction
An intriguing distraction will occur during this portion of the test, near the dog and
handler while working the perimeter of the ring. The dog may stop and notice the
distraction, but may not pursue the distraction. The handler may redirect the dog to
continue working. The distraction will remain the same for all dogs tested. Distractions
are not limited to, but may consist of any of the following: ringing bell; crinkly food bag;
squeaky toys; radio; camera flash; person on a bike; children playing; toy being thrown.
Principal Parts of Freight Haul and Intriguing Distraction
1. The dog stays while freight is retrieved and loaded.
2. The dog willingly moves forward with load
3. The dog proceeded around the perimeter of the ring loose lead.
4. The dog willingly negotiates the longer haul over any type of terrain.
5. The dog works through distraction on course.
6. The dog stands for unloading/unhitching.
Failing Performance
a. Handler touches the dog or apparatus during the freight haul.
b. Dog does not cooperate while loading or unloading.
c. Dog refuses to move loaded apparatus.
d. Dog becomes distressed while hauling freight
e. Load is too heavy for the dog
f. Load becomes unbalanced during the haul.
g. Handler works dog on tight lead.
h. Dog pursues or flees from distraction.
i. Dog repeatedly barks at distraction.
j. Dog refuses to move after distraction.

After all dogs have completed all sections of the test, all passing teams will be called back into
the ring and awards will be given. These events are pass/fail.

~Revised 06/10~