What on earth is Earthdog?

Many Terriers and Dachshunds were bred originally to hunt, chase, go to ground and bolt quarry of one kind or another, usually fox, otter and badger. Today, the sport of Earthdog allows these dogs to use their natural instincts in a safe, simulated hunting environment. They can have lots of fun, and earn titles too.

Earthdogs are tested on their ability to enter the den, find their way to the 'quarry' through a series of turns and tunnels, and work the quarry. These challenges become increasingly difficult at each stage.

Dens are constructed as a series of trenches dug in the earth, into which 3-sided liners are fitted. The liners are in sections and have wooden roof and sides, the floor is exposed dirt. This means that tunnels are totally safe and cannot collapse and also that they can be configured in any manner. In the Earthdog Instinct Certificate test the total length of the den is only 3 metres, with one turn; but by Masters level there are over 9 metres of tunnel, with multiple turns, exits, false dens, a constriction and an obstruction!

There are six titles available for Earthdogs; Earthdog Instinct Certificate (EIC), Junior Earthdog (JE), Senior Earthdog (SE), Master Earthdog (ME), Earthdog Champion (ED. CH.), Earthdog Grand Champion (ED. GR. CH.), Strong Dog Instinct (SDI), Strong Dog Junior (SDJ) and Strong Dog Excellent (SDE)

Which dogs?

Dogs six months of age or older and registered with the Dogs Australia are eligible to participate in Earthdog tests, as are spayed and neutered dogs with Limited Registration provided they are classified as eligible breeds.

The following breeds are classified as eligible to participate in Dogs Australia earthdog tests:

Australian Terrier, Australian Silky Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Chinese Crested Dog, Dachshund (all varieties), English Toy Terrier, Fox Terrier (Smooth and Wire), German Hunting Terrier, Glen of Imaal Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Norfolk Terrier, Norwich Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier, Portuguese Podengo (Small), Schipperke, Schnauzer (Miniature), Scottish Terrier, Sealyham Terrier, Skye Terrier, Tenterfield Terrier, Welsh Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier.

Dogs on the Associate Register that are of Earthdog type are also eligible to enter the Junior Earthdog Test. These dogs must have successfully qualified in the Earthdog Instinct Certificate test on at least one occasion prior to being eligible to enter the Junior Earthdog Test.

(Extract from Dogs Australia Regulations Part 11 Earthdog Tests for Small Terriers and Dachshunds; Effective from 1st January 2022, 1.4 Eligibility of Dogs

Where does it happen?

All Earthdog tests are held at the Bill Spilstead Complex for Canine Affairs, 44 Luddenham Road, Orchard Hills. The terrier den area is at the rear of the complex, behind the sheep herding area.


How can I get involved?


DOGS NSW Earthdog Working Party
Secretary - Christine Stani - 0433 127 245

Dachshund Club of NSW Inc.
Earthdog Co-ordinator - Nikki McLeod - 0408 447 642

Jack Russell Terrier Club of NSW
Earthdog Co-ordinator - Alison Abbott - (02) 6329 4244, 0411 103 096

Border Terrier Club of NSW Inc.
Secretary - Mrs Sue Causer - 0405 783 518

There is also a Facebook page for the sport in Australia which is kept up to date with all activities and events. 

More information

Show & Trial Guide calendar
Rules for the Conduct of Earthdog Tests for Small Terriers and Dachshunds
Regulations Part 3O – Selection and Training of Earthdog Judges