Agility Regulations of the World Canine Organization (FCI)

World Canine Organization (WCO) (fr. Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)) - is the international federation of canine associations, aiming at development, protection of dog sports and pure breeds. FCI office is located in Belgium, in the city of Thuin. Currently, FCI unites the national canine clubs from 87 countries (by one organization from each country). Russian Cynological Federation is also a part of the FCI. Each participating country, according to the FCI Constitution, is a member of the following relevant regions: Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

FCI puts forward some strict eligibility conditions for competitions.

In general, all participants must comply with the following FCI requirements to enter:

a) International agility tests - trials sanctioned by the FCI, in which the appropriate agility certificate and opportunity of further participation in national trials and the FCI World Championships are awarded:

All breeds, older 18 months, in a possession of their origin registration (studbook / appendix), approved by FCI, must get a tattoo or chip; owners/trainers must have a membership in the club, relating to the National Cynological Organizations (NCO), affiliated to FCI.

All the participants must bring their Record books (journals) or licenses issued by the NGO, where the competition results are recorded.

Bitches in heat are allowed to participate in international competitions.

b) National Agility Tests

Further requirements are the same – dog breeds over 18 months of age with or without a registered origin must have a tattoo or chip; their owners / trainers need to have a membership in a club belonging to a NCO, affiliated to the FCI. Competing dogs must have a Record book or NCO license, in which the contest results are recorded.

Do not meet the criteria for participating:

  • Bitches, which became pregnant

  • Obviously sick or injured dogs

  • Dogs that failed their doping test

Trainers must be members of the club relating to a NCO.

Trainers / dog, arriving from other countries must prove that they belong to the particular NCO, which is a part of the FCI and they have individual classification in official agility tests in their own country.

Competitors should demonstrate their best behavior and be appropriately dressed.

Abuse handling will be suppressed and will lead to immediate disqualification. In this case, a complaint can be lodged against the trainer. The club, organizing the competition, reserves the right to refuse any competition entry.

FCI Tests / Categories and Classes

The 2 types of tests (trials) are arranged:

  •  Official agility tests, authorized by the FCI

  • Unofficial agility tests

Every dog is eligible to enter only one height category - S (Small) - M (Medium) - L (Large). It is recommended that the size of dogs, competing in 'S' and 'M' categories to be registered in the record book. A FCI recognized breeds or agility judge, signing each entry in the record book, is entitled to measure the animals.

1. Official Agility tests, authorized by the FCI, are only available for dogs with a registered origin (studbook / appendix), approved by the FCI, over the 18 months age, possessing a record book or license issued by the NCO, in which the dog was registered.

There are 2 official agility classes:

  • Agility – comprising contact obstacles and pause table.
  • Jumping - excluding contact obstacles and pause table.

Each class is divided into 3 levels:

a) Agility / Jumps 1

Is opened only to dogs, which have not yet received their first agility certificate.

b) Agility / Jumps 2

Is opened only to dogs, which have earned their certificate in the level Agility / Jumps 1.

c) Agility / Jumps 3

Available to dogs included three times with clear rounds in the top three winners in the Agility / Jumps 2 trials.

Level relegation is possible, but this is made only under the terms of the NCO.

While designing and building the course, the judge must select, at his discretion, the equipment, approved by FCI.

Course Agility 1 should include no more than 3 contact obstacles; and maximum of 4 contact obstacles is allowed for the courses Agility 2 and Agility 3 (by the decision of the judge).

The difference among Agility 1, Agility 2 and Agility 3 should be:

  • The length of the course and its level of complexity

  • A certain determined speed to calculate the standard course time

These regulations apply to all categories - S, M and L - considering that the installed equipment shall meet the specifications defined for the small and medium size animal categories.

The obtained official tests results will be recorded in the record book or license and will allow participation in the National Championship, and later in the World Championship, in so far as the requirements, established by the NCOs, are met.

2. Unofficial Agility Tests

Are left to the initiative of every member-state; these "unofficial trials" are designed to hold agility ideals high and to ensure the safety of animals and their handlers. Before the beginning of each class, the judge should explain the rules in his briefing.

3. Functional mobility, Vision and Hearing

Any dog with developed physical agility and vigor is a strong candidate for this sport. A wide variety of breeds have proved to be naturally predisposed to the sport, over 150 dog breeds (including mixed breeds, as a separate group) have shown their ability to perform tasks accurately.

However, all dogs should be able to move along the ring with no signs of lameness - even a slight lameness is the cause for dismissal. Any dog is suitable for agility, if it possesses useful eyesight and useful hearing. For safety reasons, all animals must be capable to see the obstacles on their way, to view and hear their handlers, as well as to distinguish between signals, given them.

Certain organizations classify dogs on additional optional categories, for instance, by age, because the animals are getting weak with age (usually after seven years), and lose their ability to make jumps at a standard height. For example, the Veteran’s class (for older dogs) in AKC allows dogs to jump at a height below the standard, and have longer time to get through the course distance. Otherwise, dogs, which were not separated by age, should be of the minimum prescribed age or older to be fit for competition.

Handlers generally ask the following questions - "Can I train my puppy?" or "Can my old dog compete in agility?" Within reason – the answer is "Yes" to both questions. To compete in agility your dog must be of minimum one year old, but you can start training it earlier. However, keep in mind that the puppy joints are still being formed, so the jump height should not exceed the elbow length in the first year. Puppies are also look clumsier, with a shorter concentration. You will have to exercise maximum patience to make the first lessons short enough. Similar principles apply to older dogs. Their joints are weakening with age; they get tired faster, so lessons duration should also be reduced. The jumps height might as well have to be lowered.

Many top clubs began to organize special classes for older dogs. In AKC such classes called "classes of preference" that feature reduced jump heights. But watch out for not to be carried away much with the competition to forget in the end about the needs of your ageing pet. As dogs are usually full of aspiration to please that they can easily expose them to excessive load one day and pay for this in the other.

The dogs of 15-18 months of age and older are allowed for the agility trials, provided that they meet the other criteria for fitness. In fact, the age limit was imposed to protect puppies’ growing bones and joints from too much strain.

4. Some clubs divide trainers into additional optional categories such as young trainers (usually under 18 years old), invalid trainers, or senior trainers.

For blind dogs and dogs with disabilities it is considered that running the courses would subject them to physical danger, therefore they are usually ineligible to compete. Among the main agility associations worldwide, the AKC in the first place has insisted on the exclusion of deaf dogs from the competition. While other kennel clubs (UKC, NADAC), as well as organizations, not associated with dog’s breeding, act as sponsors of the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund.