An Earthdog trial tests the working ability and instinct. Dachshunds were originally bred to run badgers to ground, so this test is right up their alley. AKC Earthdog tests are intended as noncompetitive venues in which the handlers may gauge their dog’s natural hunting aptitude when presented with an underground hunting situation. According to the AKC General Regulations for Earthdog Tests, the noncompetitive program begins with a basic introduction to den work and quarry, progressing through gradual steps to the point where the dog can demonstrate that it is willing to perform the required tasks, including seeking its quarry and working it underground.
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 the dog nor the quarry (usually two rats) are endangered by the activity. Dogs that are registered with the AKC and are six months of age or older may participate in AKC Earthdog tests. They do not need to be intact, and purebred dogs that have been assigned “Indefinite Listing Privilege” (ILP) numbers, may also participate.