Herding Instinct Testing


The BCCA Herding Instinct Test is done under the auspices of the BCCA or other sponsors.

Effective July 2016, there will be no fee for a sponsoring club and no fee for the HIC certificate.  This makes sponsor work simpler.  The sponsor return form and the sponsor information sheet have been revised to reflect the no fee change.

The most recent BCCA Standing Rule that governs the process is below:

02/08-05. Revision to Herding Instinct Program.

The BCCA Herding Committee’s recommended revisions to the Herding Instinct Program section of the BCCA Herding Test Manual are approved. The new forms and rules are optional from May-December 2008 and mandatory after January 1, 2009. The January, 2009 recommendations of the Herding Committee are incorporated, except that Bearded Collies may be tested for herding instinct starting at six months of age. (Amended 05/09-01, 12/09-01)

Instinct Test Information and Forms

August 2013.  Please download all forms (except for the sample flyer & registration form) to replace any you may have saved from previous tests.

Fees.  No fees as of July 2016.

Forms.  There are minor revisions to improve instructions for the judges; no-pass definitions are more clearly visible on the HIC test form and are again defined in the judge’s instruction sheet.  Sponsors are asked to have a judge read and sign the judge’s instruction sheet every time they judge an event and to return that sheet along with the other paperwork to the HIC secretary at completion of the event.

Slide Presentation About Instinct Testing

A slide presentation describes the venues that offer instinct tests (AHBA, AKC, BCCA) and defines terms used in herding.  There are many pictures — all of Beardies with different stock in different places to demonstrate the terms.

This presentation takes a few moments to open because of the large size.  It is “self-guided”; use the navigation bar at the bottom to advance or backup.  When done, hit the ESC key to leave the PDF presentation and then the back arrow to return to the website.  Click here for the slide presentation.

History of The Program

A working herding program began in 1982 (source: The 1994 Bearded Collie Annual, p 69-71, interview in 1986 with Susan Holm).  Susan related that Mari Taggart, Jo Parker, and she wrote the program and it was approved in February 1982.  It was the first of its kind and it was based on the premise that the process of testing needed to reach average Beardie owners with no knowledge of herding.  The program was revised in 1985 to reflect knowledge gained that was specific to Bearded Collies.  The biggest obstacle early on, according to Susan, was getting the program off the West Coast.

The first National Specialty Test was held at the 1985 Specialty in Washington state.  20 slots and 5 alternates were made available and with a 70% pass rate, most of the top show placements and the majority of the class winners were instinct certified.  After that specialty event, there was an increase in interest across the country.

When asked “what do you feel are the benefits of testing for herding instincts?”, Susan gave a reply that remains relevant today.  She said the number one benefit is that it keeps the breed whole.  Instinct testing goes beyond working ability; the correct working temperament is also the ideal temperament for the dog in general, for show, for obedience, to share life with day in and day out.

The test was geared to test natural herding instinct and no training was required. Dogs passing a single test were entitled to use H.C. after their name.  Dogs over 6 months could participate if AKC registered or if they had an ILP #.  Testing forms on all dogs and pedigrees on passing dogs (for research and ROMI purposes) were to be turned in.  The original 1983 document contained details of instinct test qualifications for passing and definition of herding terms.  The AHBA test was used from some time in 1993 until 2008.

In 1984 the Register of Merit Instinct (ROMI and ROMIX) program began. It recognizes sires and dams with progeny who obtained the H.C. The official designation of the BCCA herding instinct testing title was changed to Herding Instinct Certified (HIC) in 1999. Over 2250 instinct awards have been earned since the program started.  Approximately 168 ROMI awards and 27 ROMIX awards have been made as of April 2013.

In 2008 the BCCA instinct test was modified with respect to herding characteristics to be recorded by the tester and only the BCCA HIC test has been used since 2009.

Herding Characteristics

Individuals who have experience herding with Beardies inherently recognize these characteristics.  Now it is possible to back that up with information from the instinct tests.  Over 1472 test hard copies exist; the information was transferred to an electronic database and then analyzed.  Click here to read about this interesting topic.