While our dachshund is the smallest of hunting dogs, he is also the most aggressive and courageous. The underground work, for which he was fundamentally bred, necessitated his meeting the fox or badger in its burrow. Only a trained, fearless dog can withstand this kind of close combat. — Grayce Greenburg, “The Dachshund”
Take the hunt away from the Dachshund — and you take away the roots of his strength; he sinks down to be nothing but a dog. — Dr. Fritz Engelmann,”Der Dachshund”
Dachshunds are eligible to participate in more event venues than any other AKC breed. In addition to conformation and the companion animal events, Dachshunds also compete in field trials and earthdog tests. Both of these venues are intended to test the Dachshund’s instinct to do the work for which the breed was created.
Dachshund Field Trials
In the United States, the first Dachshund field trial was held in 1933 under the aegis of the short-lived United States Dachshund Field Trial Club. The USDFTC was established by fanciers determined to preserve the working skills that made the Dachshund unique. This club was based in the mid-Atlantic area, and its field trial format was quite rigorous. In many respects, the system bore far more resemblance to den trials and blood tracking than modern brace-on-rabbit trials. Elaborate burrows were created, requiring weeks of construction and installation. This work load proved untenable for the club’s small work force, however, and the USDFTC disbanded after just two years.
The Dachshund Club of America (DCA) stepped into the void left by the USDFTC’s abrupt demise and began holding AKC affiliated field trials in 1935. The club’s first trial took place at the Pony Farm on the James Cox Brady estate in Lamington, NJ on September 22nd of that year. A second trial occurred later that fall in West Chester, PA. The “best in field” at both trials was a 12 pound, 6 year old black and tan smooth bitch named Amsel v. Holzgarten. Amsel was owned by George McKay Schieffelin, then DCA Secretary and the club’s AKC Delegate.
Since those first field trials in 1935, DCA has held at least one trial each year with the exception of 1947 – 1950 when no trials were held. DCA actually hosted three trials per year from 1936 through 1940. At least six dogs finished field championships during that period. Fittingly, the first of these was Amsel v. Holzgarten who finished her field championship in style by again prevailing in the open all age bitch stake before defeating the dog stake winner at the September 20, 1936 DCA Trial. Well over a thousand Dachshunds have followed in Amsel’s footsteps. Several hundred of those have garnered dual championships, more than any other AKC recognized breed. [In AKC parlance, a dual champion (DC) is a dog who has earned both a conformation championship (CH) and a field championship (FC).]
A more detailed history of Dachshund field trials in the United States can be found here.
Other than the den trials briefly put on by the United States Dachshund Field Trial Club, there were few outlets for go-to-ground work for Dachshunds in America until the American Working Terrier Association (AWTA) began holding den trials in 1971. A number of local Dachshund clubs were very active in the AWTA including the Dallas – Fort Worth Dachshund Club and the Greater Portland Dachshund Club. In the late 1980s, however, earthdog enthusiasts began to develop a more challenging “go to ground” program. These efforts ultimately lead to the creation of the three-level testing program that comprises the AKC Earthdog venue.
The first licensed AKC earthdog tests were held on October 1 & 2, 1994 by the Greater Portland Dachshund Club. During that weekend, 13 dogs became the first Junior Earthdog titlists. Nine of them were Dachshunds. All coats and sizes were even represented!
The first Master Earthdog title was earned by a Dachshund, BeeJays Chocolate Smoke CD TD ME in April 1996. Of the first five Master Earthdogs, four were Dachshunds.