(Originally edited and written by A. Hamilton Rowan, Jr.; updated by M. Sue Richey, from material submitted by George C. Wanner.)
In the early 1930s, the short-lived U.S. Dachshund Field Trial Club held the first organized field trial for Dachshund. The hounds were put to ground in artificial rabbit burrows and were judged by rules brought over from Germany.
In 1935, under the leadership of the renowned and respected Dachshund fancier Laurence A. Horswell, the Dachshund Club of America, the parent club for the breed, held its first trial at Lamington, New Jersey, under revised rules tailored for American competition. It remained the only club holding field trials for Dachshunds until the Dachshund Club of New Jersey held its first trial in 1966. Thus, with only one trial each year to attend, by far the greatest challenge for any Dachshund owner was to keep his field trial prospect alive long enough to earn the twenty-five points for its Field Championship title.
Today 28 clubs hold 53 field trials each year across the United States.
The AKC Rules for Dachshunds specify that the judging be based on the following standard of performance:
In all Stakes, the principal qualifications to be considered by the Judges are good noses, courage in facing punishing coverts, keenness, perseverance, obedience and willingness to go to earth. Should a rabbit lodge in any earth, or run through any drain large enough for the Dachshund to enter, the dogs should, of course, be expected to enter without hesitation, and failure to do so should automatically render them ineligible for first award, even though their performance was in all other respects outstanding.
Since Dachshund trials must be held on live rabbits or hare, they are always held on the grounds of an existing Beagle club where game is usually plentiful. Like Beagles, the Dachshunds compete in Braces (pairs), and the dogs both seek and pursue their game with obvious delight. However, unless the scent is particularly “hot” or the quarry is in sight, most Dachshunds run mute.
All varieties and sizes of Dachshunds-Longhair, Wirehair, and Smooth-and both Standard or Miniature compete in the field on an equal eligibility basis. At a trial, a Dachshund is a Dachshund regardless of coat or size, and all varieties have done their share of winning over the years. The AKC record books also show that 119 Dachshunds have achieved the ennobled designation of Dual Champion, thereby proving to all breeders that function can follow form, or vice versa.