More About Tracking

How Do Tracking Tests Work?

Most tracking tests are held on Sunday, as the tracks are often plotted (decided upon by the judge) the day prior.  The judge will map each track with landmarks that will allow them to locate and mark the required turns with flags.   The morning of the test, as the tracklayers lay the track, the flags are removed.

A “Draw” the morning of the test will determine the order in which each dog will exhibit.  After the track has aged the appropriate amount of time, the judge will call for the first dog to start.  The dog’s handler will put the harness on the dog, attach the lead, and begin the track.  The judge follows the dog and its handler to see if the dog is on or off the track.  If the judge determines that the dog is off the track and can’t return, a whistle is blown indicating that the dog has “failed” the test.  Time is not a factor as long as the dog is working to find and follow the track.  If the dog finds the article(s) that have been placed on the track, it will earn the tracking title for which he is competing.

What Titles are Available in Tracking?

Tracking Dog (TD)

To qualify for a TD Title, a dog must successfully follow a track 440 to 500 yards long with three to five changes of direction. The track is “aged” 30 minutes to two hours before the dog begins to track. The dog must indicate to its handler the location of an article at the end of the track.  The dog’s handler will signal the judge that they have located the article.

Tracking Dog Urban (TDU)

To qualify for a TDU Title, a dog must successfully follow a track and find the articles dropped by the person who laid the track under a variety of conditions in an urban environment. This is an optional titling event. Clubs are not required to offer this test.  Dogs are not required to earn this title to enter a TD, TDX, or VST tracking test.

Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX)

To qualify for a TDX Title, a dog must successfully follow an “older” track (three to five hours) which has five to seven directional changes.  The track is longer (800 to 1,000 yards) and has human cross tracks to challenge the dog’s tracking ability.

Variable Surface Tracking (VST)

To qualify for a VST Title, a dog must successfully follow an “older” track (three to five hours) that will have a variety of surfaces.  This track may take the dog though a building, down a road, across a ditch or other area which has no vegetation.  This is to provide a more “real world” test.

Champion Tracker (CT)

Dogs who have completed the TD, TDX and VST titles successfully will earn the title of Champion Tracker, truly a grand achievement.

Tracking Lifetime Achievement Titles

A dog who achieves multiple success at individual test levels qualifies for a Lifetime Achievement Title.  For example, if a dog passes a TD test four times, he would qualify for the title TD4.  This has no effect on Champion Tracker Title.  A request must be sent to AKC to apply for the title.  Instructions and the form are available on the AKC website,

This sounds complicated!  How do I Learn?

In addition to working with other members of a local tracking club, you have a tracking course and other reading and viewing through Basset Hound University course material made available here.  Enjoy working with your Hound as you learn about this wonderful, natural sport with your Basset Hound.

Tracking with A Basset Hound

The Basset Hound Club of America’s Basset Hound University has an online course about Tracking in its School of Activities.  The course is multilayered with a workbook, video, a booklet by Ruth Paule, a pioneer in the sport with Bassets.  This is a terrific start to tracking.

Tracking from the Ground Up is a terrific resource written  by Sandy Ganz and Sue Boyd.  This book is available in downloadable format from or in print format from

Tracking with a Basset Hound by Ruth Paule

Ruth Paule was a pioneer in the sport of tracking and her methods are very helpful.  This booklet was originally published in 1979.  It has been reformatted for this Flipbook.  There have been many AKC rule changes since the original publication.  Be sure to familiarize yourself with current AKC Tracking Regulations.

Learn the Rules and Regulations

As with all AKC Events, you should download and be familiar with the AKC Tracking Regulations from the AKC website.  Read the tracking regulations linked below.

Happy Tracking!  Wouldn't it be fun to get your Basset ready and participate at the BHCA Nationals in Tracking?