Earthdog Den Trials

Dachshunds and smaller terriers were bred to chase an animal out of its earth, tunnel, lair or den and to face fox, badger or otter.

Earthdog Den Trials are a simulation of a hunting situation, usually held in a field in which the Dachshund or Terrier tracks the game by scent to the constructed game's lair, burrow, or tunnel; enters the game's tunnel and then works (barking, engaging, etc.) the animal until he either flees from the tunnel or until the handler digs down to the den as in a real hunting situation. These simulations are trenches dug with liners inserted. The trench is then scented and a caged rat serving as the simulated game is placed at the end of the trench where the dog can see and smell but not physically touch or harm the rat.

The American Working Terrier Association (AWTA) has members throughout the US and Canada. The CKC does recognize the AWTA Certificate of Gameness and will record it on a CKC pedigree.

The Certificate of Gameness (CG) is awarded to the dog who qualifies with a score of 100% in an open class at an AWTA sanctioned trial. The dog must travel a thirty foot earth, reaching the quarry within thirty seconds (50%). The dog must then work the quarry, as defined on the Judge's score sheet, continuously for a full sixty seconds (50%). The handler can give one command on release, and then must stand quietly at the release point throughout the test. The dog can enter the earth, come out, and re-enter providing he does not go all the way to the quarry. He is not penalized as long as he reaches the quarry within thirty seconds from the time of his release.

Once the dog reaches the quarry, he cannot leave it. If he does, he receives no score for working even if he does return. If the dog reaches the quarry within thirty seconds and works the quarry continuously for a full minute, he earns his CG. The scoresheet is sent, with the trial report, to the Trial Secretary who then issues the Certificate of Gameness.

Glossary of Earthdog Terms

False Den — A pile of bedding material, heavily scented to simulate the bedding found in most natural dens.

Go to Ground — Follow quarry, ranging from rats to badgers, into their dens.

Honour — Wait quietly while another dog works.

Quarry — Live quarry in the form of two rats is most commonly used. The rats are kept in a wire cage with food and water. The cage is kept separate from the dogs. An artificial quarry properly scented and capable of movement can also be used.

Releasing the Dog — All collars and leads are removed from the dogs prior to entering the test area. Dogs may be placed on the ground before release or may be released from a point no higher than waist level. Throwing the dog in the direction of the den entrance is not allowed and will cause the dog to fail the test. The handler can, at the time of release, give the dog one short command with no penalty, but then will stand quietly at the release point and will not move until instructed by the judge.

Scent Line — An invisible line that has been scented with rat, fox or raccoon.

Tunnel — Test tunnels are dug so that a nine-inch by nine-inch wooden liner can sit flush with the surface of the ground. The liner covers the sides and top while the floor of the tunnel is bare earth, scented with rat.

Working — Digging, barking, growling, lunging, biting at the quarry cage, or any other action which, in the Judge's opinion, indicates the dog's interest in the quarry. Staring does not count as work.


Reference Books:
Earthdog Ins & Outs
by Jo Ann Frier-Murza
History of earthdogs and individual studies of suitable breeds, artificial den trials around the world, selecting a breed and choosing a puppy, entering and exhibiting your novice or advanced dog, and the real thing - in the field.