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Cairns in Italy, Europe


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Have just been reading this post from an Italian member of our UK Forum and wonder what you in USA think about this "sport"?

"In Italy we have some different recognized working trias

One is TAN (Attitudinal Test for Terriers)organizes annually by SIT (Italian Terrier Club) since 1996 in order to verify their hunting aptitude.

These test consist in:

Reaction of gun shoot (the dog must show any fear).

The dog's reaction with animals as: fox, rabbit, guinea pig and wild boar.

The judges value the tenacity and the grit of the single terrier towards these wild animals.

There is, however, never a direct contact between the dog and the wild animal, so the Terriers

never run any danger

If passed these test give 5 points for Italian Club Championship.

We have also working trials in artificial den (fox) or on wildboar.

I think that you know in what consist artificial den so I explain only work on wildboar:

In a fenced area of approximately 3 ectares with more vegetation there are two young boar.

The dog have 5 minutes to try they and than must “work” they barking for almost 10 minutes.

Dog is free and its owner must stay near judge.

The judge give points for the nose (scent),voice,tenacity and passion."

Therre also some photos of the events


reaction here has not been good.


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Nobody on here has commented on this type of event but on the UK Forum we have had some adverse reaction so now the Italian breeder who posted this wants off the Forum - I think it is a shame it is useful to know what goes on in other parts of world.

I am hoping that somebody will post something on the UK Forum about earthdog.


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Sounds like interesting tests. I agree with your one member who asserted that these are not sport per se - but ... I suspect they are meant to be tests, which is a different kettle of fish. No one is claiming a dog 'bested' a caged varmint - that would be a ridiculous sport. As an instinct test, about all that is required is exposure to relevant quarry. The more realistic the conditions, the better, no doubt, but logistics and political realities limit what can be done. In the US we use rats not because they are a relevant quarry - they are not - but because that is what the political reality allows.

The need for Cairns to be gun-proof is a puzzlement - we don't see that in trials or tests except in what we would consider the traditional gun-dog breeds. Although in this day and age, a simple varmint dispatch with a shovel may have given way to gunshot, so perhaps in the modern world a terrier's work might involve gunshots after all. I don't live where hunting with terriers is a common activity, so I'm certainly not qualified to speak to their actual reasoning. Now that I think about it, one of the origin stories for the West Highland White Terrier involved one of Colonel Malcolm's reddish dogs being shot as a fox, so that suggests they have been under the gun for quite some time. Certainly Cairns are adaptable enough to use "off-label" - there are accounts of Cairns pulling sleds, so it's not out of the realm of possibility to imagine one used for running down bunnies, or retrieving birds. I do fear Stella would return me nothing but a mouth full of feathers.

To disagree with your member's further objections a bit, barking most definitely is the terrier way. They might be physically over-matched against some of their traditional quarry and as I understand the accounts, their use was often to drive the quarry so mad with their incessant barking and worrying that fleeing seemed the best idea - whereupon their human partner could snare the fleeing quarry. Or shoot it. For field work as I understand it (which is a big if) - a silent dog is a liability. Absent a locator collar, how on earth would you find your dog in a den pipe somewhere if s/he were not audibly working? I once saw a video presentation that included earthdog type evaluations from one or more Scandanavian countries as well as Germany, and the presenter commented at one point that a loud, metronomic bark was highly prized. If I had to dig down six feet into the earth to find my quarry and get my dog back, I can imagine why.

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Thank you Bradl for those comments......... I would love you to post something about earthdog in the UK Forum as would like other people to know about that.

The topic has been locked re the Italian sport but I feel it could be reopened so that your comments could be posted there too.


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I agree with Brad that the use of the gun in the test is quite odd. My Pepp is a great working dog but has developed a fear of gun shots after being exposed this last fall. Since terriers have an incredible sense of hearing, I can fully understand being upset at such a loud noise. Most varmints that a Cairn would find could be dispatched quite easily by the Cairn or by a human with a shovel. I think the dog doing it would actually be more humane..Cairns are chomper type of killers and its all over in one chomp...

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