Rules Of Rating Hunting Laikas In Russia On Wild Boar
In my paper published in the June issue of “Full Cry”, I described rules of rating Laikas in Russia for hunting squirrel, sable, capercaillie, grouse and pheasant. In the second paper published in the July issue of “Full Cry”, I described rules of rating Laikas on brown bear.
In addition to having well-proven hunting skills on small, fur bearing animals and birds, many Laikas are used to hunt wild boar where these animals are found. In some parts of Russia, hunters use their Laikas mainly for hunting wild boar.
In certain areas of Russia, the wild boar is a native animal. There are no crosses with domesticated pigs recorded in the wild population. However, in some secluded parts of the country, particularly in the Caucasus, people allow their hogs to wander free and some females of domesticated hogs mate with wild boar males which come close to villages. As a result, piglets with long snouts and a brown coat with longitudinal stripes on the back are born.
In wild boar hunts, any dog breed with courage and agility, such as hounds and mixes of guard breeds with hounds, are used. Strong and large dogs which are aggressive but clumsy may be injured or even killed by a mature wild boar male. Laikas are the favorite wild boar hunting dogs, because they combine aggressiveness with agility and possess the skill to avoid injuries.
Field trials for rating hunting skills of Russo-European, West Siberian and East Siberian Laikas are conducted on free-living wild boars in habitats where wild boars are common. These trials take place in the fall when the weather is still warm and in winter, when the ground is covered with snow. Sometimes, dogs are tried on the free-living wild boar in conjunction with trials on other kinds of game. During hunting trials, the following qualities of Laikas are evaluated.
- Scent, hearing and vision used by Laikas to quickly find and bay a wild boar, which in the Russian language is called by a summarizing term “chutyo”.
- Reaction of the dog to scent of wild boar on the ground.
- Courage and style of baying. A dog must be confident and active when it sees a boar.
- Aggressiveness and persistence during baying necessary to keep the boar from running away until the hunter arrives.
- Skill is the ability of the dog to avoid counterattacks of the boar.
- Determination. The Laika must track the boar without barking, chase it fast and bark loudly as soon as the boar is bayed.
- Voice and obedience are evaluated, just like in trials on other kinds of game. The voice of a Laika should sound pleasant, purebred and loud.
- Single dogs or pairs of Laikas are allowed to compete at the trials. Pairs are formed of dogs trained to hunt together, which may belong to one or different owners. Such pairs are registered as working packs (hunting units). Rules for evaluation of single dogs and pairs are the same, but for pairs diplomas are awarded for the single pair.
- During trials, work of dogs on free wild boar is evaluated on a point system shown in the tables below.
- Diplomas for a good job are awarded to Laikas based on maximal number of points.
- A single Laika or a pair of Laikas is tried on one animal at a time. One hour is allotted for dogs to find a boar in its typical habitat. The presence of wild boars is insured by a special survey conducted prior to trials.
- Dogs are removed from trials and not rated if they do not start on fresh boar’s tracks during the first ten minutes, or they start tracking with voice.
“Chutyo” (scent, hearing and vision combined as the ability to find and bay the game quickly) – 15
Courage during baying – 25
Voice – 5
Aggressiveness – 20
Skill – 15
Persistence – 15
Obedience – 5
Total – 100
Diplomas are awarded for a total number of points earned by dogs as follows:
Diploma Maximum _______________ Including: ___________________
Number of Points Courage Aggressiveness Persistence
I Degree 80 20 16 13
II Degree 70 16 14 11
III Degree 60 12 12 8
As it is shown in these tables, much attention is given to courage, aggressiveness, persistence and skill of the dogs.
The following deficiencies are monitored in a dog’s work during wild boar field trials.
A good working dog must show confidence in finding the right direction and quickly find and bay the game. Lack of confidence in the dog’s behavior working on boar’s tracks results in a loss of four to five points. Too much time spent on boar’s tracks before the dog finds the right direction is penalized by subtracting six to eight points.
Once a boar is found, the dog must attack it immediately and aggressively, bite it and force the boar to circle at one place, preventing it from running away. If the dog barks from a distance, without biting the boar frequently enough, but still keeps the boar from running away, it loses up to five points.
If a pair of dogs is baying a wild boar and the boar attacks one of the dogs, the second dog must attack the boar immediately, bite him and bark loudly, diverting the boar’s attention from the dog being attacked. If one of the dogs barks boldly, but does not bite and does not attack the boar from the front, it loses six to eight points. If the dog barks at the boar with little aggressiveness, but is bold enough to slow the animal down so it can be shot by the hunter, it loses 10-13 points.
Some dogs bark unaggressively and keep far away from the boar, which results in the boar running away. Such a dog, or a couple of dogs, lose up to 14-15 points.
Voice of the boar hunting Laika must be strong and well heard. Dogs with a weak coarse or not a purebred voice lose two to four points.
Aggressiveness of the Laika baying the wild boar must be sufficient to keep the boar at one place securely until the hunter arrives and shoots the boar. Such a dog shows aggressiveness from the first moment it picks up the boar’s scent, attacks the boar from the head and flanks and bites him on the rear parts. Dogs working aggressively, but attacking the boar only from the front, lose up to five points.
If the dog barks aggressively but bites rarely and weakly, it loses five to seven points. If the dog barks well but keeps a safe distance from the boar, it loses six to eight points. If a dog, while barking at the boar, retreats from the attacking boar, allowing it to run away, it loses ten points.
A good Laika, while baying a wild boar, must be able to avoid counterattacks. There are no dog vests protecting the dog from being cut used in Russia and Laikas do not need them. However, while avoiding being bit, a good working dog should never lose its momentum and should keep baying the boar. If the dog is evading the boar’s dashes, but is losing the initiative during the baying, it loses two points. If the dog runs away too far from the counterattacking boar but otherwise is baying well, it loses four points.
A dog which allows itself to become hit by the angry boar loses eight points. If two dogs working as a couple interfere with each other, they lose eight points.
A persistently baying dog must bark aggressively and keep the boar’s attention. If the dog occasionally stops barking, leaves the boar, but returns quickly to the boar without commands of the master and bays the boar well, it loses four points.
If the dog stops chasing the boar but resumes it by command of the master, it loses up to seven points. Dogs which stop chasing the boar and do not resume chasing it on command, lose eight to ten points. With a couple of Laikas working together, if one of the dogs does not chase the boar, the couple loses eight points.
During wild boar hunting, dogs must respond and come up when called by the master. Dogs coming up reluctantly when called lose two points. For refusing to come, they lose four points.
A pair of the West Siberian or East Siberian Laika of opposite sexes or of the same sex raised and trained to hunt wild boar together make the most efficient hunting pack. It is a great pleasure to watch the good work of a pair of these dogs. They have already proven to be excellent wild boar hunting dogs in California and Georgia. A pair of West Siberian Laika can catch and hold a pig of up to 200 pounds.
In Russia, trials on captured wild boar are conducted year-round and dogs of several different breeds used in wild boar hunts are allowed to be tested for their skill in this sport. Terrier breeds used for hunting, Dachshunds, hounds and continental breeds of bird dogs are also used for wild boar hunting in Russia.
Big tuskers and females with piglets are not allowed to be used at field trials. A one to two year old wild-captured boar is released in a fenced plot with an area of at least ten acres with mature trees and patches of undergrowth or thick young tree stands. These dogs are rated by using similar criteria as described above with Laikas. Some specifics of different breeds hounds are supposed to bark during tracking.
In the next, the last paper of this series, I will describe rules of rating Laikas in field trials in Russia on moose and deer.
I thank Alex Schubert for the editing of this paper.
By Vladimir Beregovoy
Published “Full Cry” August, 1997
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