German Versatility Test for Dachshunds
by Jolanta Jeanneney (for DCA Newsletter September 2006)
The DTK* Versatility Test
for Dachshunds (Vielseitigkeitsprüfung, abbreviated
as Vp) was recently
conducted for the first time in the
For those unfamiliar with
the DTK (Deutscher Teckelklub)
– this German dachshund club formed in 1888 has around 25,000 members and is
organized into sections and groups. The club is a member of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale* (FCI), which maintains the international
standard for dachshund. In 1999 the DTK established its presence in
I am not going to go into details as they are described in the seven-page document, but potential applicants into judging apprenticeship program are nominated by DTK sections and groups. The candidate’s age is an important factor and has to fall in the range of 22-50 years. Potential apprentices have to be DTK members for at least 4 years and hold a hunting license for at least 3 years. They must have experience in hunting, training and handling dachshunds i.e. they must have successfully trained and handled their dachshund in several hunting tests. They must be active hunters.
Apprentices accepted into the program are issued an
apprentice judge’s certificate. In
Going back to the Vp test conducted May 13-14, 2006, it was organized so Andy and Henry could fulfill their requirements as judging applicants.
In the Vp test the dachshund is tested as an above-ground hunting dog. The dachshund is, of course, an underground hunter as well, but underground work is not included in the Vp performance repertoire; these underground aptitudes are evaluated in other DTK tests. The three components of the Vp are: blood tracking test, field obedience and the game flushing test. The Vp test can also include test for voice and accuracy on the scent line (Spurlautprüfung). Successful passing of the voicing tests is required before the dachshund can be entered in all above-ground hunting tests except for blood tracking.
Those who hunt with their dachshunds believe that it is highly desirable for a dog to give tongue as he pursues a live game - rabbit, fox or deer by scent. The voice announces that the game is coming and the voice allows the hunter to know the location of the dachshund. In the emotional realm, the dog’s voice allows the hunter to participate vicariously in the chase. Voice tells us if the scent is hot or cold, whether the quarry is running straight and all out or zig-zagging about and playing tricks to make the scent line more difficult to follow.
The DTK Spurlaut test conducted on European hare evaluates dog’s
nose, voice, accuracy and desire. This test with its elaborate scoring protocol
is not easily adaptable to the North American cottontail rabbit, which runs
very differently from the European hare. In the case of the Vp
test discussed in this article, Bear and Asko’s
voicing ability on rabbit was tested by using a simpler JGHV* Loud Hunter
Certification. The test was conducted at the Niagara River Beagle Club grounds
The second part of the Vp tests was field obedience, in which the dog is evaluated for heeling off or on leash, down/stay during gun fire and behavior during a drive. For the second component a handler who carries a shotgun puts a dog on down/stay and leaves the sight. Judges observe the dog from a hidden point and after about two minutes, at their signal, a gun is fired twice. The handler has to be out of sight for at least five minutes, and the dog is not supposed leave his position. The handler can leave his backpack or a piece of clothing by the dog.
This is a demanding test,
especially when it is done on the grounds full of rabbits – just as it was the
The third component of the field obedience evaluates dog’s behavior while people around beat the brush, make noise and fire gun. The dog is supposed to be on the sit/stay command next to the handler. I thought that this would be especially challenging for Asko as he is familiar with field trials, and usually hard to control when other dogs follow a rabbit or beaters beat brush. I was amazed how well Andy trained him in 3 weeks as Asko passed this test without any problems.
next test conducted in
blood tracking part of the Vp
test took place in
Before I close this already long article I would like to include Henry and Andy’s comments. I asked them to write their impressions, what was most challenging, most rewarding. This is what they said:
Henry: “I enjoy training and working with hunting dogs as much as I enjoy big game hunting, so from the start I looked at training a working dachshund for blood tracking as a natural way to bring together two of my favorite pursuits. That is how I came to know John and Jolanta Jeanneney, and it how Attila von Moosbach-Zuzelek , a.k.a. Bear, became my hunting companion. Bear is a tough wirehaired standard dachshund with a strong prey drive, and I knew he had the makings of a good tracker, but I also knew that I had to point him in the right direction with adequate training if he was going to become a productive worker and a well adjusted member of a growing family.
I regard working with a hunting dog of any type, whether it’s a pointer, retriever, or a blood tracker, as a joint venture that is most rewarding when the handler and the dog reach a level of cooperation that allows them to accomplish hunting tasks that neither could accomplish alone. With a young dog this process begins with a fundamental training-based relationship, but as the hunting relationship matures this changes, and the hunter and the hunting dog reach a point where they come to understand their roles. Success is then measured by success in the hunt, and the end reward for both handler and dog lies in the cooperative effort.
For me, the requirements of the various Deutscher Teckelklub hunting tests provide the handler with useful training benchmarks for what constitutes a biddable and versatile hunting dachshund. Whether it is field obedience, steadiness to gunfire, retrieving a duck from water, or tracking day old deer blood and hoof scent in a 1000 meter Fährtenschuh course, the hunting tests give the trainer a working standard to use as a guide. The Versatility Hunting Test (Vp) combines many of these elements in a single format, and serves to showcase the overall working capability and versatility of the breed. The test showcases a dogs training and natural ability, and is a test that any well-bred and trained hunting dachshund should be able to pass without difficulty.
So how did Bear and I
train for the challenge of the Hunting Versatility Test? Well, if the truth were
told, we didn’t train for it. The fact is that by the time I took the Vp test with Bear as a
prerequisite to my becoming a JGHV Judge, Bear and I had worked together for
three years, and had already passed numerous hunting and obedience tests
together. FC Attila von Moosbach-Zuzelek, SchwhK*, SchwhK/F, Vp,
Andy Bensing: “To gain
entry into the NATC Apprentice Working Judge Program, one of the requirements I
needed was to enter and pass a Vp
test. The problem I had was that neither
of the two dogs I currently own were capable of
passing all phases of the test.
Several dogs were offered to me by friends. Some with pretty good credentials already, but I decided to work with a dog named Asko who was 7 years old and never titled before. Asko had blood tracked before but not for quite a few years, and he was a field champion but had not trialed in quite some time either. His biggest deficit was in obedience. Part of the Vp test requires a long down stay under demanding hunting condition distractions and Asko had never been taught down before and his heeling was rusty to say the least. For a dog with a lot of hunt, that would be the biggest challenge. Asko’s greatest asset for me was that he was a very ball driven, animated dog who really liked attention. I also liked the idea of working with Asko because not only would he help me fulfill my judging requirement, but I felt like I would be doing him a service of putting a very respected title on him that he certainly deserved.
I picked Asko up 3 weeks before the test and got right to work. He and I bonded easily and he handled very easily right away off leash when running rabbits. I took him out blood tracking a couple of times to learn to read him while tracking. I found he lacked a little self drive at times in the blood tracking but that was easily compensated for by encouragement from me. If he stalled a little, all I had to do was encourage him verbally and that would get him going again. I used the ball as a motivation to spruce up his heeling and that worked quite nicely. The challenge was the down stay under gunfire and hunting distractions. He had to be solid enough on the stay so that even if a rabbit ran by he would not budge. I worked within the rules of the test and used a small knapsack as a focal point for the stay. I worked the down stay almost every day for the 3 weeks leading up to the test to make sure he wouldn’t budge.
Finally on the day of the test Asko’s natural assets, his foundation training that was done years earlier, and my last 3 weeks of bringing it all together paid off. He passed the test with flying colors scoring a perfect 100 on blood tracking and losing only 1 point in obedience for a little whining on the down stay (but he did not budge!) and 1 point in the forest search. He ended up being the overall high scoring dog of the day.
The most rewarding part of
the whole experience was at the end of the day after all the testing was done
seeing everyone pay so much attention to Asko. Asko had been used
in breeding quite extensively before and can be found in the pedigrees of the
majority of American bred German style dogs used for blood tracking and field
trials but he never really received the credit he was due up until that
day. On the same day I trialed my Arno,
a grandson of Asko, in a 20 hour blood tracking test
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