The History of Dachshund Field Trials in the United States

 

by Tracy Freeling

Adapted from various articles by the same author that have appeared in the VOICE and the DCA National Field Events Programs.

 

The Beginning (1933 – 1946)

The first Dachshund field trial was held in 1933 under the aegis of the short-lived United States Dachshund Field Trial Club (USDFTC).  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 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 James Cox Brady estate in Lamington, New Jersey on September 22nd of that year.  A second trial occurred later that fall in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  The “best in field” at both trials was a 12 pound 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.  Schieffelin was a strong proponent of the DCA field trial program as was Laurence Horswell.

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.  Six Dachshunds – all smooths  – finished field championships during that period.  Fittingly, the first of these was Amsel v. Holzgarten who completed 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.  Two of Amsel’s offspring are counted among the first field champions.  From 1941 through cessation of DCA trials in 1946, only two more Dachshunds earned field championship titles.  The first of these was the wirehaired CH Vagabond v. Paulinberg, and the other, a grand-daughter of Amsel and CH Heini v. Flottenberg.  Vagabond was the first non-smooth field champion as well as the first dual champion Dachshund.  He was also the grandsire of CH Brentwald Joshua W and is, therefore, behind the pedigrees of many of today’s standard wires.

 

Reboot (1951 – 1966)

 

After a five-year hiatus, the DCA field trial resumed in 1951.   The dogs and exhibitors who had been the mainstays of the field program in the 40s were either old or deceased by that point, and it was not until 1956 that another field champion finished.  Teufel mit Honig was the first longhaired Dachshund to earn a FC title.  Her owner was the famous Mrs. George Goodspeed, an ardent field trailer who ultimately finished three more field champions.

The one trial per year tradition that began in 1941 continued during this period (1959 being an exception with two trials).  This annual trial was held in late fall and simply referred to as “the DCA Field Trial” because it was the ONLY Dachshund field trial held each year.  The trial rotated around between various sites in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania for several years, but by the mid-1960s, the Dachshund field trial community had settled into north-central New Jersey for good.

Entry numbers remained fairly low during this period as enthusiasts struggled to grow the sport.  The first Field Champions Only stake was offered at the 1966 DCA field trial.  Until the mid-1980s, however, it was not unusual to have few if any field champions entered at trials.

 

Change and Slow Growth (1966 – 1983)

 

With just one trial per year, it was difficult to generate interest in field trialing within the larger pool of Dachshund fanciers.  This quandary inspired Charlie Campbell and George Wanner to take action.  As recounted in the March 1967 American Dachshund:

 

First they determined what steps were necessary to become licensed by the AKC. Two fun matches were held to prove to the AKC that the willing sponsors knew what they were doing. Then there was the question of a suitable tract. This was answered through the New Jersey Fish and Game Commission, on the hunting grounds in Bevans, Sussex County. Finally the first AKC-sanctioned fun match was held in April 1963. April 1964 saw the second fun match, 1965 the first AKC-sanctioned trial, and 1966 the second one. Having successfully led the club and their committees through all the preliminaries, Charlie and George, in the name of the DCNJ, petitioned the AKC for permission to hold a licensed point field trial, and this permission has been granted.

George and Charlie’s dream will come true Sunday, April 23. Classes will be: Open All Ages, Dogs; Open All Ages, Bitches; and Open, Champions Only. Judges will be Lloyd Bowers and Dr. Helmut E. Adler. The fee is $5 per entry, and entries close at the home of the field trial secretary, Mrs. Charles Campbell, at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 15.

 

As noted above, the inaugural Dachshund Club of New Jersey field trial was held on state game lands in Sussex County. The 1967 DCA trial took place on the Brady estate yet again.  Through its well established ties with beagler Lloyd Bowers (a frequent judge), however, DCA was able to hold its 1968 trial at the now familiar Central Jersey Beagle Club in Sergeantsville, NJ.  Field trial enthusiasts were thrilled by this move. The beagle club’s 70 fenced acres were well stocked with rabbits … a welcome change after years of struggling with too few bunnies at other sites.

The Connecticut Yankee Dachshund Club was inspired by DCNJ’s field trial endeavor and began offering fun days and later sanctioned trials.  It held its first licensed event on May 2, 1971.  Clubs in California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio also became licensed over the next decade as interest grew among fanciers. This expansion of the sport — particularly its spread beyond the Northeast — ultimately generated interest in a “national” trial which could be held in conjunction with the yearly DCA specialty. This idea came to fruition in 1984.

 

The Modern Era

 

In many respects, 1984 was watershed year for Dachshund field trials.

The Dachshund Association of Long Island became licensed to hold trials.  Meanwhile out west, the first ever regional trial was held on March 24th in California under the aegis of DCA Region I. That event and the Northern California Dachshund Club trial the next day represented the first two-event circuit in Dachshund field trial history. Most significant of all, however, DCA hosted two trials in 1984: its annual fall event and an additional trial held “in association” with the national specialty. This extra trial took place on June 25th at the Central Jersey Beagle Club in Sergeantsville.  [The national specialty host club in 1984 was the Dachshund Fanciers Association of Berks County. The conformation show and annual meeting were held in suburban Philadelphia.]  Some people maintain that this event was the first DCA National Field Trial, but it was never officially designated with that name. The minutes from the 1984 DCA Annual Meeting do, however, record that a motion was made and passed “to hold a Dachshund Club of America National Field Trial in conjunction with the National Specialty Show”.  As a result, the 1985 DCA trial held in Yelm, Washington is generally considered to have been DCA’s first National field event.  The winner of the 1985 National Field Trial was Robert and June Kelly’s CH Ivic Cevan’s Foxfire CDX.  This talented standard longhaired dog would eventually finish his competition career as DC Ivic Cevan’s Foxfire CDX TD CG VC.  A complete listing of the absolute winners of the DCA National Field Trial can be found here.

DCA has held a National Field Trial every year since 1985 with the location rotating around the country along with that of the club’s national specialty show. Despite the introduction of this new event, there was a keen interest among fanciers — particularly in the Northeast — to preserve the history and traditions of the yearly fall DCA sponsored trial in New Jersey.  As a result, that event has continued to be held.  It is now referred to as the Annual Field Trial, however, in order to distinguish it from its newer DCA counterpart.

In 1985, Dachshunds began running under their own field trial rules and procedures.  Prior to then, Dachshund field trials were run under the AKC Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedures for Pointing Breeds, Dachshunds, Retrievers and Spaniels.  In 1987, DCA set up a field trial advisory council or committee (TAC) to promote Dachshund field events and to make field trial policy recommendations to DCA’s Board of Directors.  [The TAC committee was reorganized as the Performance Events committee in 2008.]

In 1993, the two oldest field trialing clubs (DCA and DCNJ) held back-to-back trials twice.  1993 was also the first year that the Dachshund Club of New Jersey held more than one field trial.  A spring trial was held in conjunction with the DCA National in Pennsylvania and a fall trial was held in New Jersey in conjunction with the DCA Annual trial.  Over the past two decades, the two-trial weekend cluster became the norm.

During that time frame, the number of field trial clubs expanded at a much more rapid pace (see below for a list of licensed clubs).  There has also been a dramatic increase in trial entries.  The first event to have an entry of more than 80 was the Badger Dachshund Club trial when they hosted the National in 1991.  At the 1995 DCA National, which was held in Kentucky, a record was set at the time for total entries (104) and for the number of dogs entered in the Field Champions Only Stake (47).

At the 1999 DCA National, which was held in Maryland, a new record was set for total entries with 125.  While at the DCA Regional trial the preceding day, a new record was set for the number of dogs entered in the Field Champions Only Stake (54).  These numbers were surpassed yet again at the 2002 Nationals.  The total entry at the Badger Dachshund Club host field trial was 196!  The entry breakdown was 59 OAADs, 63 OAABs, 33 FCDs and 41 FCBs.  The DCA National Trial the next day was held in freezing rain, and the entry dropped to 141.

Since 2002, there have been several 100+ trials each year.  None have come close to the 196 dog draw witnessed at the 2002 nationals, however.

 

Active Licensed Field Trial Clubs

Albany Capital District Dachshund Club Dachshund Club of Metropolitan Atlanta Houston Dachshund Club
Badger Dachshund Club Dachshund Club of New Jersey Louisville Dachshund Club
Bay Colony Dachshund Club Dachshund Club of Santa Ana Valley Madison Area Dachshund Club
Buckeye Dachshund Club Dachshund Club of the Great Lakes Metropolitan Washington Dachshund
Cascade Dachshund Club Dachshund Fanciers Association of Berks County Mission City Dachshund Club of San Antonio
Central Ohio Dachshund Club Dachshund Fanciers of SW Washington Northern California Dachshund Club
Cumberland Valley Dachshund Club Dallas – Fort Worth Dachshund Club Sierra Dachshund Breeders of Los Angeles County
Dachshund Association of Long Island Golden Gate Dachshund Club Western Pennsylvania Dachshund Club
Dachshund Club of Greater Buffalo Greater Portland Dachshund Club Wolverine Dachshund Club

Licensed Field Trial Clubs who have not had a Field Trial since 12/31/2014

Bayou Dachshund Club of New Orleans Hoosier Dachshund Club
Connecticut Yankee Dachshund Club Mississippi Dachshund Club