We are holding a Scentwork Trial on November 16 and 17, 2019 at Phoenix Childrens Hospital. We will be offering container, interior, exterior, buried and detective - all levels.  Looking forward to seeing you all there! More details will be posted soon.

There is still time to train your dogs in Scent Work.  If you have questions:  email Aleks Woodroffe  at Scentwork.aw@gmail.com. 


What types of AKC Earthdog Trial tests are offered?

The tunnels are of adequate size for the terrier and dachshund breeds that are qualified for this event. 

The thirty-foot long tunnel must contain three right angle turns.  At the end of the tunnel, wooden dowels prevent the dogs from reaching two live rats (the quarry)  in the cage.  The entire structure is covered with dirt, forming an underground maze which the dog must traverse in the dark.  

Before the liners are placed in the trench, the ground along the entire length, or the liners themselves, are sprayed with rat scent. It is this smell that leads the dog to the quarry at the end of the tunnel. Once at the quarry, the dog must “work” the rats. Working is defined as barking, digging, scratching, lunging, or actively trying to get the quarry.

The rats are not harmed – they are kept safe behind the dowels. The rats sometimes sleep or even mate through the entire process. The length of time the dog must work the quarry varies with the title being pursued. 

 All trials and practices run by the Arizona Earthdog Club follow the AKC guidelines and rules for these events.

What to expect at an Earthdog Trial:

An Earthdog Trial (also known as Terrier Trial or Go-to-Ground Trial) is an officially sanctioned American Kennel Club event that attempts to replicate the conditions a hunting terrier would encounter in the field.  In order to closely approximate an underground tunnel complex dug by a burrowing fox in the wild, the sponsoring Earthdog Club digs a trench in the ground that is twelve inches deep, by twelve inches wide, by thirty feet long, and then places nine-inch square wooden tunnel liners in the trench. 

Here is what a Senior tunnel looks like before it is buried in the ground: ​

Arizona Earthdog Club Facebook page

​Arizona Earthdog Club

The four Earthdog titles are:

  • Junior Earthdog 
  • Senior Earthdog
  • Master Earthdog
  • Endurance Earthdog

To complete for a Junior Earthdog title, the dog must: 

  • Achieve two qualifying scores under two different judges. 
  • The dog is released 10 feet from the tunnel entrance and must reach the rats in 30 seconds. 
  • After reaching the rats the dog must work for 60 seconds.

The junior tunnel is 30 feet long with three  right angle turns.

The next title is Senior Earthdog
To complete for a Senior Earthdog title, the dog must achieve three qualifying scores under two different judges. 

In order for a judge to successfully qualify a dog for a senior leg, the dog must comply with the following standards:

  • Follow a twenty foot scent line to a tunnel entrance that the dog cannot see from ground level. 
  • Track through a pitch-black, thirty-foot tunnel containing three 90-degree turns to the rats. 
  • The dog cannot be distracted by a false entrance/exit or by a dead end tunnel that is scented with rat bedding. 
  • Once at the rats, work the rats for 90 seconds. 
  • After working the rats for 90 seconds, and after the rats are removed from the tunnel, leave the tunnel when called by the handler and return to the handler within 90 seconds. 

Many handlers and trainers consider the Senior Title the most difficult to achieve.

Master Earthdog is the top activity at the Earthdog Trial.  To achieve this title:

  • Two dogs are drawn at random.
  • As a brace, the dogs hunt for the tunnel entrance from a distance of 100 to 300 yards. 
  • They must actively indicate where the entrance is located. 
  • One at a time, the dogs move through the tunnel passing obstacles that simulate roots and constrictions in the tunnel. 
  • The dog must work the quarry for 90 seconds and not be distracted by the judge scraping on the top of the tunnel.  (The scraping is meant to approximate the hunter digging down to the spot where the dog is holding the vermin at bay).

Once your dog has earned the Master title, a further goal is the Endurance Earthdog title. This title is new as of 2010, and is earned when a dog, on five occasions, passes both the Senior and Master classes at the same event. Your dog may earn additional Endurance titles after the first Endurance title is completed. 

A non-title event called Introduction to Quarry is intended for young or inexperienced dogs to gain experience with the sport.  The Intro tunnel is ten feet long with one right angle turn.  The dog has two minutes to reach the quarry and must work the quarry for 30 seconds.