By Ruthie Bently
The most cited definition of an earth dog is “a dog that will dig in the earth, or enter holes of foxes, etc.” Earth dogs were originally used for hunting food for the table or vermin, and were bred to track badger, otter, weasels and other quarry to their den. At an Earthdog Test or Den Trial, a dog is competing against themselves and their own natural ability to hunt when confronted by an underground hunting location.
Earthdog is a newer sport based on an old practice. There are several dog breeds that have been used for many years for this purpose. It is now a recognized competition by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and the American Working Terrier Association (AWTA). Called both “Earthdog Tests” and “Earthdog Den Trials,” their purpose is the same – to test your dog’s natural instinct and trained ability to work and hunt a quarry after they have “gone to ground.”