To conclude the series of articles on spurlaut in dachshunds I invited Patt Nance to share her experience with this trait. Patt’s “v Dorndorf” standard longhairs such as Ilsa, Karl and Marta are examples of what a purposeful and focused breeding program can accomplish. Patt’s unique perspective gained during her 30-year involvement with field trialing dachshunds offers guidelines for reintroducing or reinforcing the spurlaut trait in your own breeding.
For Crying Out Loud!
One Dachshund Breeder’s Pursuit of Voice
By Patt Nance
When I began field trialing 30 years ago, you could count the annual number of AKC dachshund field trials on one hand. You could count the number of Field Champions entered in a trial on your other hand and not use all your fingers. And all 10 fingers sufficed to number the entries in a typical Open class. Field trialing has evolved and enlarged dramatically since the mid-70s, but some things have not changed. Now, as then, some dachshunds run rabbits silently and some dachshunds voice on the trail. And now, as then, some dachshund owners appreciate the spurlaut trait more than other dachshund owners.
What’s to appreciate?
In my mind’s eye, I can still see and hear the memorable run of one of the first dachshunds that I ever saw trail a rabbit in full cry. The trial was in New Jersey. The dog was an east-coast-owned standard wire of German breeding named Axel von der Grenadier Halde. I was in awe. My dogs did not pursue game anything like Axel did. I wanted dachshunds that trailed and voiced like Axel!
Life is a learning proposition and, in the next decade or so, I learned some things about voice that further influenced me to incorporate the trait in my breeding plans.
I learned from Michigan field trial enthusiast Liane Stiles of an article written about a breed of German voicing spaniel in which voice had nearly been lost. Breeders, intent on preserving the voice in this breed, determined no mute trailing dog would be used for breeding. These breeders then were successful in their quest to preserve an important breed characteristic. This left an impression on me: breed for voice or lose it, as can be said of all other virtues.
I learned you cannot use a stud dog whose voice is non-existent or unevaluated and expect spurlaut puppies. Nor is there any guarantee that a pup from spurlaut parents will also be spurlaut. If a breeder wants voice, voice must be evaluated.
I learned from getting a beagle, running beagles, and associating with beaglers, of their no tolerance policy for dogs that don’t open. Our closed-mouthed dachshunds were astonishment to the beaglers whose grounds we used and who judged our trials. While they understood that we were not requiring dachshunds to voice on game, to save their lives, they could not understand why. Looking at our dogs through a bit of their lens, I began to develop a similar perspective.
I learned from our own Official AKC Standard that hunting voice is a Quality of the dachshund. “Qualities - Added to this, his hunting spirit, good nose, loud tongue, and small size, render him especially suited for beating the brush.” I tend to take things they way I read them for, generally, if writers meant something different, they would have used different words. So I started thinking: Does this mean that a dachshund that is mute is not especially suited for ranging in brush in quest of game? Another question: If loud tongue is a dachshund quality - an essential and inherent feature of the breed - do I want to make breeding decisions as though voice were irrelevant? My answers to these questions, respectively, became yes and no.
Finally, I learned that I just get an out and out, never-ending kick from hearing dogs trail game. The breed doesn’t matter and neither does the game, for I also get a huge thrill from standing in my back field at night and listening to a neighbor’s coonhounds sing in the distance.
Voice in a dog isn’t everything.
Agreed, it is not everything. But, from its bearing as a fundamental quality for several breeds, ours included, it is a big thing.
Well, talk is cheap. What next?
In the mid-1980’s, I was fortunate to receive a letter from a dachshund owner, hunter, friend, and excellent correspondent by the name of Karla Martin. (Now Karla Deithorn.) Karla, living in New Jersey at the time, had gone to a field trial hosted by the Dachshund Association of Long Island. There, she wrote, she had seen a CH standard longhaired male who voiced on rabbits; in fact, she wrote, he opened as he was put on the scent lines even before being released to run them.
Intrigued, I talked of Karla’s letter to an Ohio beagler friend of mine. We were running dogs in a field of goldenrod near a railroad track one evening. He was a long-time beagle trial judge and respected beagle breeder named Preston Current. Preston was running a lemon and white little beagle bitch with voice and I was running a red longhaired dachshund bitch without voice. Preston listened to me tell of this voicing male longhair on Long Island and he turned to me and said: “I’ll tell you what I’d do. Go and look at that male and, if you like him, breed your bitch to him. Keep the best bitch in the litter and breed her back to him.”
It was good advice. In 1984, I went to look at that male. In 1986, I did the first breeding to him and, in 1990, I bred his daughter Grissel back to him. That is what produced Ilsa. You can see that and more from the following tally of my efforts, the fruitful and unfruitful, of breeding with voice in mind. Keep in mind that, until 2004, I used only American-bred dogs and that the selection of standard longhaired spurlaut stud dogs was limited almost to the point of non-existent.
Litters and results
I have highlighted the names of offspring that I later used for breeding.
Strong spurlaut DC Grampus von Harbor Park x mute Felda v Dorndorf L CD TD TT. The only two puppies run in the field, Galen & Grissel, were both mute.
Weak spurlaut DC Han-Jo’s Cassius L x mute Felda v Dorndorf L CD TD TT. The only pup run in the field, Hessian, was weak spurlaut. Very weak, as I only heard him open twice! But, though a Field Champion, Hessian also had very limited trailing ability which undoubtedly contributed to such limited evidence of voice.
Strong spurlaut DC Grampus von Harbor Park x mute DC Grissel v Dorndorf L CDX TD VC. Of the four pups run in the field, all bitches, Ingrid and Iris were strong spurlaut, Ilsa was spurlaut, and India was never interested in trailing game, therefore her voice was not able to be evaluated.
Unknown spurlaut Madison von Turner L x strong spurlaut FC Ingrid v Dorndorf L CD. Jackie and Joni were mute.
Unknown spurlaut Madison von Turner L x spurlaut FC Ilsa v Dorndorf L. Julie was spurlaut, Judo was weak spurlaut, and Jenna and Jaeger were mute.
Strong spurlaut DC Teckelhof’s Perfidius (a Grampus grandson) x strong spurlaut FC Ingrid v Dorndorf L CD. Of five puppies, just one was run in the field: Strong spurlaut Karl.
Unknown spurlaut CH Boondox Forrest Gump x mute Walmar’s Drucilla. A one pup litter: mute Luke.
Strong spurlaut FC Karl Brink v Dorndorf L x his spurlaut aunt FC Ilsa v Dorndorf L. Three puppies in the litter: Strong spurlaut Marta, mute Maya and Minx.
In terms of high drive and rapid-fire voice, Marta was my home-bred female longhaired version of that male wire Axel. Marta fulfilled my vision of a good dachshund in pursuit and she had the most stamina of any dog I’d owned to date. Though her sisters were mute, I could hope that Marta was homozygous for spurlaut; of course I wouldn’t know until I could evaluate her puppies.
Mute Walmar’s Luke v Dorndorf L x strong spurlaut FC Marta v Dorndorf L. Strong spurlaut Nadja and Nutmeg, spurlaut Nexus and Nick. My sixth choice of studs, I decided to use silent Luke for his rear angulation and bullet-proof depth of character but I was sweating the spurlaut results in these kids. Great news, the four offspring that have been run in the field were all spurlaut before one year of age.
Weak spurlaut SUVCH S VCH NUVCH FC Hound’s Kashmir (Swedish import) x strong spurlaut FC Marta v Dorndorf L. I chose Kasi for his smaller size – 18 pounds, biddability, improved station, and stamina. Seven puppies resulted, all spurlaut. Owl and Ossie were trailing and voicing game at four months. Oslo, Otter, Odin, Ochre, and Olive all evidenced spurlaut by seven months of age.
2007 Nexus x Olive. I am hoping their offspring will be spurlaut. We will see!
Some rules I made for myself along the way.
September, October and November are my favorite months of the year.
I look forward to standing in some fields of goldenrod again this fall. I will be watching resident Mr. Cottontail hasten past me on an evasive course attempting to elude his pursuers. I hear them! They are coming this way. Run, Mr. Cottontail, run! A couple of longhairs, or a trio perhaps, break out of the thicket and into view in the late afternoon sunshine. They sweep down the line together, saddle the check, and run on again, loudly proclaiming their progress for the world to hear. I’m watching! I’m listening! And I deeply appreciate ‘em…for crying out loud.