What on earth is earthdog?
This is a dog sport for small Terrier and Dachshund dogs that were originally bred to hunt vermin in underground dens. This sport allows these dogs to use their natural instincts in a safe, simulated hunting environment where neither the dog nor the quarry are endangered by the activity.
Dogs are tested on their ability to enter the den, find their way to the ‘quarry’ through a series of turns and man-made 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 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 3 metres, with one turn; but by Masters level there are over 9 metres of tunnel, with multiple turns, exits, false dens, a constriction and an obstruction! (Source: Dogs NSW)
What Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) titles can be attained?
There are six titles available:
Earthdog Instinct Certificate
Strong Dog Earthdog
Is my dog suitable?
This sport is for small Terriers and Dachshunds. The ANKC lists 25 breeds that are eligible to participate in ANKC earthdog tests including Dachshunds, Australian Terriers, Australian Silky Terriers, Bedlington Terriers, Border Terriers, and West Highland Terriers. In addition, dogs on the Associate Register that are of earthdog type are also eligible to participate.
Age restriction: Dogs six months of age or older and registered with the ANKC are eligible to participate in earthdog tests, as are spayed and neutered dogs with Limited Registration provided they are classified as eligible breeds.
Where can I do this sport?
Find a dog club near you by contacting ANKC‘s State member bodies: