What on Earth is Earthdog?

Many Terriers and Dachshunds were bred originally to hunt, chase, go to ground and bolt quarry of one kind or another, usually fox, otter and badger. Today, the sport of Earthdog allows these dogs to use their natural instincts in a safe, simulated hunting environment. They can have lots of fun, and earn titles too.

Earthdogs are tested on their ability to enter the den, find their way to the 'quarry' through a series of turns and tunnels, and work the quarry. These challenges become increasingly difficult at each stage.

Dens are constructed as a series of trenches dug in the earth, into which 3-sided liners are fitted. The liners are in sections and have a wooden roof and sides, the floor is exposed dirt. This means that tunnels are totally safe and cannot collapse and also that they can be configured in any manner. In the Earthdog Instinct Certificate test the total length of the den is only three metres, with one turn; but by Masters level there are over nine metres of tunnel, with multiple turns, exits, false dens, a constriction and an obstruction!

There are six titles available for Earthdogs; EIC (Earthdog Instinct Certificate), JE (Junior Earthdog), SE (Senior Earthdog), ME (Master Earthdog), ED CH (Earthdog Champion) and SDE (Strong Dog Earthdog)

Which dogs?

Dogs six months of age or older and registered with Dogs Australia (ANKC) are eligible to participate in earthdog tests, as are spayed and neutered dogs with Limited Registration provided they are classified as eligible breeds.

The following breeds are classified as eligible to participate in Dogs Australia (ANKC) earthdog tests: Dachshunds, Australian Terriers, Australian Silky Terriers, Bedlington Terriers, Border Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Fox Terriers (Smooth and Wirehaired), German Hunting Terriers, Glen of Imaal Terriers, Jack Russell Terriers, Lakeland Terriers, Manchester Terriers, Miniature Pinschers, Norfolk Terriers, Norwich Terriers, Parson Russell Terriers, Portuguese Podengo Pequeno, Scottish Terriers, Sealyham Terriers, Skye Terriers, Tenterfield Terriers, Welsh Terriers and West Highland White Terriers.

Dogs on the Associate Register that are of earthdog type are also eligible to enter the Junior Earthdog Test. These dogs must have successfully qualified in the Earthdog Instinct Certificate test on at least one occasion prior to being eligible to enter the Junior Earthdog Test.

(Extract from ANKC Regulations Part 11 Earthdog Tests for Small Terriers and Dachshunds; Effective from 1st January 2015, 1.4 Eligibility of Dogs)

Where does it happen?

All earthdog tests are held at KCC Park (State Dog Centre, 655 Westernport Hwy, Skye). The earthdog area is exhibition area three and is located next to the off leash area. 

Earthdog is an instinct test for small terriers and other breeds that were originally bred to enter and work in burrows constructed by quarry that live underground. During an Earthdog Test, dogs are required to follow an underground maze using their keen sense of smell.