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193 – Barnhunt Founder Nuttall Created Fast Growing Sport
18th June 2018 • Pure Dog Talk • Laura Reeves
00:00:00 00:31:18

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One Person Making a Difference

In just five years of existence, the sport of Barnhunt has taken off like wildfire. Founder Robin Nuttall, the archetype of “one person can make a difference,” said she created the sport to test the natural instincts of her new Miniature Pinscher. A Doberman Pinscher fancier for many years, Nuttall was accustomed to working her dogs in various sports after they finished their championships. When she acquired her first MinPin to have a smaller agility dog, she discovered they weren’t allowed to compete in AKC’s Earthdog testing.

Prove Working Ability

As she researched the breed more, she discovered they are an old breed, older than Dobermans, and their original job was to rid homes and properties of vermin like rats and mice.

Find the rat!

“I wanted to prove he had the ability to do the job he was bred to do,” Nuttall said. “His aptitude (training with friends who did Earthdog) was amazing.”
“The important thing people need to understand about Barnhunt,” Nuttall said, “is that every decision was based on instinct testing for vermin dogs. We welcome all dogs, but at the core of the sport and why it was created, it is a working instinct test.”
Ironically, the year after Nuttall created the first Barnhunt tests, AKC approved MinPins for Earthdog competition. “If MinPins had been an approved Earthdog breed, Barnhunt would not exist,” Nuttall said.

Independent Organization

Barnhunt ribbons for Bearded Collie

The Barnhunt Association is an independent organization. While Barnhunt is not an AKC sport, competitors can earn titles recognized by AKC, UKC and CKC, Nuttall noted. “I have to say, AKC has been amazing and has helped contribute to our success through their support and endorsement,” Nuttall said. Like most competitive dog sports, Barnhunt features progressive levels of difficulty.
“One of the basic tenets of the sport,” Nuttall said, “is that the rats we use are not harmed. We have a lot of protection for the rats. They are kept safe in heavy duty aerated tubes. Our rats are pets first, but they like small dark spaces.”
Barnhunt seeks to recreate real vermin hunting experiences in which the dogs have to go in small dark spaces. The dogs have to go in to 18-inch wide tunnels that are only as tall as a bale of hay. They have to climb on the straw bales and indicate where the rats are hidden. “This is a gateway sport,” Nuttall said. “We have a lot of folks who started in barnhunt, who had never done anything with their dogs, who move on to other sports… how we treat people (at our events) has a huge impact on whether these people stay involved.” Learn more at … And listen to our podcast to hear Robin Nuttall’s passion, joy and advocacy for this fun new event. Stay tuned next week when Allison Foley will be back with more of her Tip of the Week from the Leading Edge Dog Show Academy. Barnhunt Association We are not a purebred dog registry, so whatever the owner says the dog is, that’s what goes down. We accept purebred breeds registered with the AKC/AKC FSS, UKC, FCI, KC, and Canadian KC. If it is not registerable with any of those organizations, then it is registered as a mixed/cross breed. For that reason, our stats show more mixes than any other breed type. But as of today, here are our top 20 in registrations.
Mixed/Cross Breed 3759
Border Collie 1239
Australian Shepherd 1214
Doberman Pinscher 892
German Shepherd Dog 881
Jack Russell Terrier 863
Border Terrier 862
Golden Retriever 829
Labrador Retriever 771
Rottweiler 564
Miniature Schnauzer 531
West Highland White Terrier 525
Poodle, Standard 496
Dachshund, Miniature 492
Standard Schnauzer 473
Cairn Terrier 451
Whippet 438
Rat Terrier 430
Parson Russell Terrier 416
Pembroke Welsh Corgi 399
  Total number registrations as of May: 33,125. We average between 16 and 18 registrations per day. We have 265 clubs and 226 judges. We are still in growth mode; there are a number of places in the country that are hotbeds (the Pacific Northwest, Wisconsin, etc.) and others that have a few or no clubs. Only one club in Mississippi. Only one club in Kansas. Barnhunt Events We have 360 approved events on the calendar that have not yet taken place. We had 550 trial events in 2017 (that number does not include fun tests or clinics; titling events only). If you look at the website event calendar you can get an idea of the scope of the number of events. Trials must be applied for 60 days in advance, so numbers will drop off after July until a bit later. States with more than 1000 dog registrations per state:
California 3302
Florida 1745
Washington 1639
Texas 1460
Pennsylvania 1368
Ohio 1268
Illinois 1247
Michigan 1205
Wisconsin 1171
New York 1149
Virginia 1112



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