An earthdog trial tests the working ability and instinct of the small, short legged terriers. These dogs were bred to hunt vermin and other quarry which lived in underground dens. Earthdog den trials involve man-made underground tunnels that the dogs must negotiate, while scenting a rat, the "quarry." The dog must follow the scent to the quarry and then "work" the quarry. Depending on the sanctioning organization, "working" means barking, scratching, staring, pawing, digging; any active behavior. The quarry is protected at all times by wooden bars across the end of the tunnel. The hunting encounter is controlled, and neither dog nor the quarry, usually two rats, are in any danger.
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 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.
What Dogs Can participate in an Earthdog Trial :
All Dachshunds, and the following Terriers: Australian, Australian Silky, Bedlington, Border, Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, Fox (Smooth and Wirehaired), Jack Russell, Lakeland, Manchester, Norfolk, Norwich, Parson Russell, Scottish, Sealyham, Skye, Tenterfield, Welsh and West Highland White. All dogs entered in tests must be registered with their Canine Council, and must be on the Main or Limited Register.