Thursday, May 21, 2009

Danish Earthdog Setup

The above picture is of a Danish den dog trial set up. Similar setups are done in Ukraine, Sweden, Germany, Finland, and several other countries, but with somewhat different designs from location to location.

In this design, there is an incline in one section in the middle and a spot where the dog is in a pit below the quarry. To get to the quarry at that location, the dog has to leap up 60 cm on to the ledge next to the drum or "kessel" (pot). This section can be closed off for a simple trial.

The drum on the far right is rotated so that the "quarry" (a live fox or badger) can escape out a side door and run from down the tunnel to another drum (not shown) which is then rotated half way to put bars between the dog and the game.

The fox and badger are very relaxed about the whole thing (they've been doing it their whole lives and are lept as pets) and the dogs get to run around a bit and see if they have voice and whether they will stick to the job even in in non-contact situation. There is no digging and no actual contact between the dog and the fox or badger.

The den pipes are generally too big with these things to suit my taste (9" by 9" is common) and so bigger dogs are able to act as if they have the stuff even when some of them could not get down a real pipe.

That said, this is fun sport for folks without the desire or without the physical ability to take their dogs into the field to do real hunting.


Viatecio said...

Is earthdog stuff compatible with real-world digging, or are the two mutually exclusive? It looks so contrived and cutesy on the Animal Planet 'trials', but like you said, some people can't go hunting for a few reasons.

PBurns said...

It has nothing to do with real terrier work.

1. Neither the person nor the dog has to find quarry.

2. These artificial earth are very big compared to real earths -- a 9" square tube is 81 square inches inside, as compared to about 35 square inches for a 6" pipe. In addition, a smooth-sided pipe with straight runs is quite a bit easier to get down than one with roots, rocks, clods of dirt, and sharp turns ever few feet.

3. There is no digging in an artificial earth -- no sweat at all. Also no briars, no aching back, no need for gloves or water or a machete, or ....

4. There are no skunk in artificial earths, as well as no ripped muzzles from actual contact with quarry. The dog cannot get hurt or caught up underground; there is no risk to dog or human at all.

5. There is no locating the dog; in fact tools and equipment and knowledge of any kind is not needed. This is a "wait-your-turn" and "get-out-of-the-chair" and "collect-your-ribbon" kind of thing.

I am not trying to be critical; only descriptive. I have run dogs at earthdog trials, manned trials, and I know what real hunting with terriers is like on both a good day and a very bad one, and they have very little in common. Both require a dog, but that's about it, as they do not even require the same dog.


thebodyguard said...


Followed your blog and site for a while now; good stuff! Just into the terriers and hunting and having difficulty establishing started dogs with my choice of terrier; patterdales. so, I have a young yearling and unless I can get my hands on a started dog, I'm probably going to be left bringing along young ones. question, do these artificial dens have any value to training young dogs? if so, how would YOU construct one. I have plenty of land for such a den. i've been hunting, know its not the real thing, but wonder if it would be a decent training tool to start dogs if constructed properly and with tighter dimensions. thanks!

PBurns said...

Earth dog setups are very useful for starting a dog off -- the best way in my opinion.

To start, let me say the single best investment you can make is to buy my book, which details earth dog tunnel construction and training tips (along with history, field vet care, and PRACTICAL information on digging on the dogs for fox, raccoon, groundhog, possum. See >>

For a web section on tunnel building and training, see >> and any of the posts on this blog about the same.