Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Fox and the Fence









Dr. Federico Calboli very kindly sent me this BBC link to a video of a fox in Canada sliding through what around here we would call a pig fence.  I believe the mesh is 2 inches wide by 4 inches tall -- a 12 inch perimeter on a slightly bendable square.  Since the BBC video does not have embedding, and since links tend to disappear like mist, I took a few screen shots and have posted them above.
 
I have written rather extensively about the chest size of red fox here and here and here and here and here, and here, and here, and in the book, and even reposted the paper by Paolo Cavallini which measured red fox around Europe and the world.  The bottom line, is that a red fox chest is 11-14 in circumfence, and is as springy as that of a house cat. 
 
Take a two litter Pepsi bottle around the middle -- that's the biggest fox chest you are likely to ever see.  If your dog's chest is bigger than that, it will have a hard time reaching at least some of the fox found in natural earths, with their complex twists, rocks and roots. 
 
Forget it if someone tells you that if the dog "really wants it" it can dig to it.  A dog cannot dig rock and root, and no dog can excavate 6 feet of tunnel underground, much less 20.  As for "flexibility," nothing is more flexible than water or sand,  but you cannot pound two gallons of water or sand into a one pint can.  There are limits!
 
As I note on the main Terrierman.com web site, chest size matters more than any other single physical aspect of a working terrier:  "A working terrier should be able to go straight through most of the den pipes it has to work. In America, that means a dog with a chest of 14 inches or less -- the same size as that of a red fox, adult groundhog, or average raccoon. An over-large dog will have difficulty negotiating curves and constrictions, is more likely to get trapped underground, and will find it harder to maneuver away from the slashing teeth of the quarry. A dog 'bottled' by dirt behind and dirt or quarry in front, may have a difficult time getting enough air."  

In other posts, and bits I go into detail about the average size of American working terriers (real data) and how to span a terrier.

Are you still listening to show ring matrons and wikipedia theorists when it comes to working terriers?  There's your mistake!  

As I have noted in the past, the real expert on working terriers is the fox, the groundhog, the raccoon, and the badger. 

The real test is the hole, and not just once, but dozens of times a year. 

No man or woman who digs often on their dogs has ever wished for a larger dog!
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Mountain (my big dog) in a 6 inch pipe.
 

1 comment:

seeker said...

So, you're saying (and by the pictures you're right) that basically a fox, the prey our dogs were bred to hunt, is downright catlike in flexability and talent to get into places. Now it makes sense that our monkey dogs can climb, squeeze, and reach with their little hands far more than their Fox and Rat Terrier cousins. It's also noted by me that they can manipulate objects. While I can't say tool use, its at least the ability to move and rearrange things.
This week because of rain, frost and the lack of vegetation my big female was able to discover an old chain link gate that had been closed for years in the back corner of the yard. The gate leads to a dead end alley between us and the neighbor's back yard and Cocker Spaniels. The old wire gate was slightly off kilter and secured by a latch, but there is a pile of firewood back there between our properties and it HAD some critter in it. So today, we have to go back and repair the damage caused by my 11 inch 16 lb burglar with the narrow chest the the ability to turn inside out in a pinch.
My new little girl is 8 inches and 10 lbs so far at 3 years and is studying at the feet of a master thief.

Debi and the 3 TX JRTs