Dachshunds: Competing in Field Trials

Dachshunds are one of only a handful of dog breeds eligible to participate in field trials. The purpose of field trials is to give breeds designed for field work the opportunity to exercise their natural abilities — their penchant for hunting, following a scent, and cornering vermin.

Dachshund field trials are different from field trials for other dogs, like retrievers. Dachshunds are best at tracking small game through dense brush and alerting hunters to the location of the game. In a Dachsie field trial, you reenact this scenario under controlled conditions (no wildlife gets hurt). Dachshund field trials are based on Brace Beagle field trials, in which a pair, or brace, of dogs track a rabbit.

Field trials usually are held in a fenced area so the Dachshunds can't escape or become lost. Some field trials divide the male and female Dachshund competitions; others don't.

The following list explains how the contest begins and ends:

1. A Field Marshall calls each brace to attention.

2. Volunteer brush beaters scare up a rabbit, and whoever sees the rabbit first shouts, "Tally Ho!"

3. After the rabbit has been spotted and has scurried away, the Dachshunds are brought to the place where the rabbit was spotted.

4. Each handler encourages his or her Dachshund to find the line, or scent, of the rabbit.

5. As soon as the Dachshund catches the scent, the handler releases the Dachshund; he or she must then stop giving instructions but may follow the dog — behind the judges only.

6. When the judges have seen enough to judge the Dachshund's ability to follow the scent with persistence and enthusiasm, they ask the handler to pick up the dog.

The goal of field trials, beyond having a great time, is to earn enough points for the title Field Champion (FC). Versatile Dachshunds that attain this title and are Champions of Record in conformation are considered dual champions. These same Dachshunds that also earn an obedience championship are considered triple champions.

If you're interested, you should visit a field trial or two to see what it's all about. Ask the people running their Dachshunds how you can train your Dachshund for competition. Usually, you'll meet friendly people and get plenty of great advice. To find a field trial in your area and to discover more about AKC field trials, call your local dog club for more information.

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