The sport of earthdog had its Australian origins in November 1993 when the Sporting Terrier Club of Queensland held their first In-ground Hunting Fun Day at Durack. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of New South Wales holding a day at Erskine Park followed this the following year. Earthdog came to Victoria in November 2002 with a practice day at Narbethong and from that beginning, two clubs - The Earthdog Club of Victoria and the Lure Racing and Earthdog Club of Victoria - were formed and affiliated with DOGS Victoria.
The first official trials in Victoria were held in July 2004, which resulted in three dogs gaining their novice earthdog titles.
The sport is an instinct test for a number of breeds - the eligible ANKC recognised breeds are Dachshund, Australian Terrier, Australian Silky Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Fox Terrier (Smooth & Wirehaired), Jack Russell Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, Norwich Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Sealyham Terrier, Skye Terrier, Welsh Terrier and West Highland White Terrier.
Unfortunately, this is not a great spectator sport as most of the action is underground. There are three levels of achievement: novice, senior and master earthdog.
Novice dogs are required to traverse nine inch square tunnels 30 feet long with three 90 degree turns. Den liners are placed in the dugout tunnels and covered with soil. A scent leading to the box containing the artificial quarry is provided to guide the dogs. The dog is then carried into the enclosure and released 10 feet from the entrance; the judge and timekeeper time the dog, which must reach the artificial quarry in 30 seconds. Then the dog must start to work the artificial quarry within 30 seconds and continue for 45-60 seconds. "Work" means growling, barking, scratching or digging. When time has elapsed, the dog is removed from the den from a hatchway near the box containing the artificial quarry.
Senior and master earthdog titles require more advanced work. Both clubs on a regular basis hold practice and fun days. For further information, contact one of the earthdog clubs or the DOGS Victoria Earthdog Committee.