More detail can be found in Earthdog Ins and Outs by Jo Ann Frier-Murza which includes comprehensive information on the sport, the tunnels and set-up, and the types of dogs that may compete in Earthdog Tests.
Here is an article from AKC that gives a good overview of the sport: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/sports/earthdog-101-tap-into-your-small-terriers-or-dachshunds-heritage/
Information about our current Earthdog Tests being held in November 2023 can be found on the Events page.
Most AKC Earthdog Tests use tame rats that are "standing in" for the natural earthdog quarry: foxes. The rats are not harmed – they are kept safe behind the dowels at the end of the tunnel. The rats sometimes sleep or even mate through the entire process.
The length of time the dog must work the quarry varies with the title being pursued, and a handler is on hand to make sure the rats are cared for in accordance with AKC Guidelines.
An Earthdog Test (also known as Terrier Test or Go-to-Ground Test) is an officially sanctioned American Kennel Club event that attempts to replicate the conditions a hunting terrier would encounter in the field.
In order to closely approximate an underground tunnel complex dug by a burrowing rodent in the wild, the sponsoring Earthdog Club digs a trench in the ground that is twelve inches deep, by twelve inches wide, by thirty feet long, and then places nine-inch square wooden tunnel liners in the trench.
The photo above shows what a Senior tunnel looks like before it is buried in the ground.
The thirty-foot long tunnel must contain three right angle turns. At the end of the tunnel, wooden dowels prevent the dogs from reaching two live rats in the cage. The entire structure is covered with dirt, forming an underground maze which the dog must traverse in the dark.
Before the liners are placed in the trench, the ground along the entire length, or the liners themselves, are sprayed with rat scent. It is this smell that leads the dog to the quarry at the end of the tunnel. Once at the quarry, the dog must “work” the rats. Working is defined as barking, digging, scratching, lunging, or actively trying to get the quarry.
All tests and practices run by the Arizona Earthdog Club follow the AKC guidelines and rules for these events. The tunnels are of adequate size for the terrier and dachshund breeds that are qualified for this event.
The photo above shows
Dude (GCh. Star Valley Baer Dude Impact CM BN RA ME EE CA CGC NW1 NW2) entering a tunnel.
Dude was the first Russell Terrier to get his EE (Endurance Earthdog) title. Dude is owned by Kim Baer.