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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Can longhaired and smooth dachshunds be used for blood tracking?

Each tracking season we get several inquiries asking whether “wires” are the only coat variety of dachshunds to be used for tracking wounded game. Another variation of this question would be this inquiry “I was talking to a young lady at the woods and water show last weekend who told me about the blood tracking dachshunds. I did notice that most pictures show wirehair and shorthair being used for the tracking is there any reason the longhaired version we have wouldn't be able to track deer?”

A short answer is “Good blood trackers (and poor blood trackers) can be found in all sizes and coat varieties of the breed”. A long answer is more complicated.

In the United States and Canada dachshunds have been bred for many generations purely for their pet and esthetic characteristics, without any selection for the working qualities such as hunting drive, nose, line sense, gameness, voice, focus, perseverance and so on. Even though the AKC treats three coat varieties as one breed (and does not specify the coat variety on the registration certificate), we know that the most popular dachshund on our continent is of the smooth type, followed by longhaired, and the wirehaired variety is a distant third.

On the other hand, in Europe wires are most numerous; longhairs are second followed by smooths. According to the DTK (Deutscher Teckelklub) records in 2007, 7080 puppies were registered, and 5105 (72%) were wirehaired, 1207 (17%) were longhaired and 768 (11%) were smooth. In 2008 in Bundessiegersuche in Chorin, Germany (National Blood Tracking Competition for dachshunds) there were 17 entries, of which 13 were wires, three were smooths and one was long. The winners of the competition were all wires but two smooths did very well as well and got 100 points:

GS 2008 Maja vom Escherberg with her handler Ursula Zuther-Grauerholz: 1.Pr.100 Pkt

Dachshunds used for blood tracking in America are usually bred from hunting European bloodlines, and it looks like the ratio of coats resembles more the ratio found in Europe than in the American pet and show stock. Perhaps beginnings of Deer Search had something to do with it too. John Jeanneney brought his first wirehaired dachshund from Europe in 1965 and started to breed wires out of German hunting stock in 1968. His Clary von Moosbach was a great inspiration for hunters who saw her work, and she attracted many future trackers to the organization. Today most dachshunds used by Deer Search members are wires.

Also according to the long tradition, the German foresters and hunters have used wires mainly, but there are some excellent European bloodlines that have been bred for hunting in the two other coats. And as I mentioned, excellent blood trackers can be found in all three coats. A great deal depends on breeding priorities and selection criteria that a breeder applies. Patt Nance from Ohio has been breeding her ”von Dorndorf” standard longs for a long time, and she selects for dachshunds who “are smart, sound, spurlaut, of functional size, stamina, and speed, and who own a spirit of cooperation as well as a will to succeed”.

One of Patt’s longs, Odie, is used for tracking wounded deer by Alecia Wenner from North Carolina.

One of the most talented smooth blood tracking dachshunds I have ever seen was Boris owned by Anatoly Sarser. Boris was half German/half American, and he had a superb innate tracking instinct.

Just recently I received a report describing a nice work done by an eleven-week-old smooth coated Jake. Sian Kwa wrote: “I have placed a pup with a experienced bow hunter about a week ago. Hunter shot a deer on Friday. Deer fled. Hunter and his friend followed the deer and tried to look for blood. It poured that day... They could not find any blood and could not find fresh tracks either. The hunter thought of getting the pup out of the truck just for fun. Pup followed scent exactly where they saw the deer disappeared. Then turned a direction that they thought the deer did NOT go. Hunter put pup a few meters back on scent line. Pup went again to the same direction. They just let him work. About 20-30 yards down they finally saw some diluted and spread out blood. They found more blood later. About 150 yard down the pup all of a sudden stood still and refused to move. Nose up in the air. Due to this behavior, the 2 hunters started to search around. They found the deer hidden in the thickets in an overgrown ditch.”

Jake looks like an excellent blood tracking prospect: “Joel shot another deer last week and saw it fall down in the brush about 90yrds further. He went home, waited about 4 hrs and took Jake with him to the beginning of the track. Put Jake on the trail where he shot the deer and Jake again found the deer.” Check with Sian, she still has two puppies available.

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