The roots of lure coursing go back over 4,000 years, to images immortalized on Egyptian tombs. Dogs with pricked ears, dropped ears, long-legged and -short, racing with speed and grace. Coursing is the modernized — and humane — version of the ancient sport of live game coursing. Traditional coursing breeds include the Italian Greyhound to the Saluki, Basenjis to the Scottish Deerhound. Coursing differs from other hunting sports in that dogs track by sight, not scent.
Good news hit the nationwide dog world recently when the AKC introduced a new titling event available to all breeds. The Coursing Ability Test (CAT) allows all dogs big and small, not of the sight-hound variety, to get out and play, too. Most dogs have some degree of prey drive, so chasing the lure used for coursing is a game most enjoy.
A dog must be at least a year old and registered with the AKC under one of its available registries (PAL/ILP or AKC). Mixed breeds welcome! A dog running in a CAT is judged on his or her pursuing the lure with enthusiasm, and completing the chase within a given time.
Lure coursing really requires no training. If your dog likes to chase, he or she is suited to coursing. With the high level of interest, coursing opportunities are popping up everywhere. Practices are offered in Salem, Corvallis, and north into Auburn, WA. The locally-based Chintimini Kennel Club hosts regular practices and welcomes newcomers. In fact, this writer had a recent opportunity to let her unlikely participants give it a try. Leo (Pomeranian) and Vegas (Great Dane) had a great time playing at what was once a sight-hound only sport.
Practice runs vary depending on the locale. However, most offer a straight course or one with a single turn of approximately 100 to 150 yards. The lure course operator should supply the plastic bag lure, and may also have a “furry” lure (toy) to coax your dog into the game.
If your dog enjoys the practice runs and you’re interested in pursuing the Coursing Ability (CA) title, here are a few things to expect.
- Dogs 12” or less at the withers (shoulder), will be expected to run a 300-yard course.
- Dog taller than 12” at the withers, will run 600 yards.
- Brachycephalic (flat-faced dogs) will run 300 yards. Brachycephalic dogs include Boxers, Pit Bulls, Pugs, and Bulldogs.
- The time allotted for the 600-yard course is two minutes; the time for the 300 yard course is 1½.
- The course will be fully fenced and only one dog at a time will be loose on the course.
When your dog passes the test three separate times, he or she earns the CA title. Additional titles are offered.
The whole idea of lure coursing is getting out and having fun with your dog. From the tiny Chihuahua to the giant Great Dane, any breed who likes to play, run and chase, and has any prey or chase instinct at all, will have a great time. If competition isn’t your thing, many local clubs and hosts welcome participants who just want to practice. It’s a great way to get out and about with your dog, try something new, and encourage their natural instincts in a safe and constructive manner.
Kennedy Morgan is a native Oregonian, customer service manager, and freelance writer who shares her home with her two sons, her Great Dane, Vegas, Pomeranian, Leo, Bearded Dragon, Godzilla, and three uber-friendly kitties. Kennedy is an active member of agility clubs and the Portland Great Dane Community. In her spare time she enjoys agility, hiking, biking, and attending her kids’ sporting events. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.