Earthdog is a hunting dog sport developed specifically for Dachshunds and small terrier breeds that were bred to hunt vermin.
In an Earthdog Test, dogs are sent into man-made, underground dens to hunt vermin, or “quarry.” The quarry is usually rats kept in a wire cage. This cage is placed at the end of the tunnel, and the dog must use his nose to locate it.
Once the dog finds the quarry, he must work it. The work is defined by a number of behaviors, such as barking, scratching, pawing, and digging. Most active behaviors that show the dog’s interest in the prey are suitable.
Neither the dogs nor the rats are endangered, as they do not actually come into contact with each other.
Introduction to Quarry (IQ) -This is the most basic test. The dog is introduced to a 10 foot tunnel with one right angle turn and a cage of rats behind a set of bars at the end. There is a scent trail of rat scent leading into the tunnel and to the rats. The handler may encourage the dog into the tunnel and the judge may help get the dog working at the rats by shaking the cage or making a noise to incite the dog’s instincts. Dogs that travel the den in two minutes and work the rats for 30 seconds pass this test.
Novice Earthdog (NE) – The den is identical to the IQ den, and the dog must travel the den in two minutes and work the rats for 30 seconds. The handler or judge may not do anything to encourage the dog once released near the den entrance. Dogs that pass these requirements at two different tests under two different judges earn the NE title.
Junior Earthdog (JE) – The dog must travel a 30 foot den with at least three right angle turns in 30 seconds, work the rats for 60 seconds; and then allow the handler to remove him without injury to the dog or handler. Dogs that meet these requirements at two different tests under two different judges earn the JE title.
Senior Earthdog (SE) – The den is 30 feet with at least three right angle turns, plus there are added distractions of a false, unscented exit and an unscented bedding area at the end. The dog has 90 seconds to travel to the rats, must begin working the rats within 15 seconds of arriving at the end of the tunnel, and must work the rats for 90 seconds. At the end of the 90 seconds the rats are removed and the dog has 90 seconds to travel the length of the den to the handler within 90 seconds. Dogs that complete these requirements at three different tests under two different judges earn the SE title.