Tracking Performance Standards

For AKC Tracking Tests

Tracking, TD, TDX, & VST

Information submitted by S Roth

Tracking is a vigorous, non-competitive outdoor sport with three AKC titles available to the participant. Tracking tests are to demonstrate the willingness and enjoyment of the dog in its work and should always represent the best in sportsmanship and camaraderie by the people involved. The dog performs using its olfactory powers to follow where a person has walked and to locate articles dropped along the trail by the person.


The first level of tracking (TD) requires the track to be 440 to 500 yards long. In a test, the track must be at least one half hour old and not over two hours old. It shall have three to five turns, both left and right, and one article at the end which shall be a glove or a wallet. The dog must be certified by a tracking judge in order to enter a TD test.


An advanced level of tracking is the Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX). The track length is 800 to 1000 yards and it is to be aged between 3 to 5 hours. There are 4 personal articles, one at the start, one at the end and the other two in between. There must be at least two obstacles like woods, changes of cover, fences, roads, streams, gullies, and these may include scenting obstacles or obstacles denied. There are two planned cross tracks which are walked one hour and fifteen minutes to one hour and forty-five minutes after the original track was laid.


Another advanced level of tracking is the Variable Surface Track (VST). The length of this track is 600 to 800 yards and must have a minimum of three different surfaces of which non-vegetated surfaces shall be one third to one half of the total length of the track. The track is aged 3 to 5 hours and has 4 to 8 turns on various surfaces. Four articles which are not personal, one each of cloth, metal, plastic and leather shall be used.

All three test levels require two judges to observe the dog and handler and pass judgment with a "pass" or "fail". There is no numerical scoring in AKC tracking events. Tracking is a team sport with the dog taking the lead and the handler has the critical job of "reading" the dog's body language pertaining to following the trail. This is where the training is involved, communicating with your dog on turns, article indication, aging the track, and scenting over and around obstacles.

Single copies of the tracking regulations are free and can be obtained from:

  • The American Kennel Club, 5580 Centerview Dr., Suite 200, Raleigh, NC 27606-3390

or on-line at:

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