Splash! Diving Dogs Compete In Annual Contest

The 2022 AKC Diving Dogs Premier Cup will be seen on ESPN2 on May 16, 2022. The actual event took place on April 2 at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida.

Partnering with the North American Diving Dogs (NADD), the American Kennel Club (AKC) is sponsoring the event, and the top three dogs who jumped the farthest will be getting an award each. Several dogs have competed from around the country to try to win the top prize.

It is hosted by ESPNโ€™s Phil Murphy, with game-by-game sports presenter Carolyn Manno and Bill Ellis doing the analysis.

How Do Dogs Compete?

Image from akc.org

First, it should be pointed out that all dogs of any breed or mixes are eligible to join in the fun except for females in season. They should be at least six months of age to compete.

The goal is to make the longest jump possible to win the tournament. Dog competitors wait on a 40-foot long and 7.5 feet wide dock while their handlers ready a toy which they will try to catch. At the command of the handler, the dog would then run the length of the dock and launch itself into the 4-feet deep pool to try and retrieve the toy.

There are two categories for the competition: Distance Jump and Air Retrieve.

Distance Jump is simply a competition for dogs who can make the farthest leap. The distance is measured from the end of the dock to the base of the dogโ€™s tail as it hits the water. A handler can start the jump at any point on the platform, but the official measurement would always be measured from the edge of the dock.

Air Retrieve is when dogs compete to grab a bumper from a rig that is adjusted in one-foot increments. Each dog will have two attempts to hit the bumper at each distance, with 90 seconds given for each attempt. The distance starts at 6 feet for large dogs and 4 feet for lap dogs.

Each team should be composed of the dog and one handler, with an optional additional handler allowed to help restrain the dog. One or two toys are permitted to be used to encourage the dog to jump.

Dock Diving

Dock diving or dock jumping was introduced in 1997 and eventually became popular in the United States, Australia, and United Kingdom.

NADD and AKC both have instructional videos on how to get started on dock diving. There might also be a local club near you if you are interested in entering your dog in a competition.

The longest ever jump recorded was by a four-year-old Whippet named Sanders, who jumped a distance of 36 feet and 2 inches in 2019. The previous record-holder is another Whippet named Spitfire, who jumped a distance of 31 feet in 2018.

Spitfireโ€™s trainer said back in 2018 that โ€œany dog can do this. But the great ones have drive. Dogs that love to chase things. And dogs that love the water – I mean, canโ€™t stay out of mud puddles.โ€

Other dogs that excel in long-jumping are Rat Terriers, Jack Russell Terriers, Rottweilers, and Vizslas.

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Pete Decker