|The Kelb tal-Fenek||Documents||Hunting||Pictures||Links||Contact||About us|
Judging the Kelb tal-Fenek at Lure Coursings
When judging the hunting skills of the Kelb tal-Fenek during a lure
coursing, it is of utmost importance to remember that lure coursing shows
only one aspect of the breed’s hunting abilities. The chase by sight only plays a
secondary roll in the Kelb tal-Fenek's work in the country of origin,
the Maltese Islands, the Kelb tal-Fenek is used for searching and
announcing hidden rabbits in an extremly rough terrain. Most hunts take
place during the night. The
sense of smell, the fine ears, and the dog’s ability to learn about the
behaviour of its prey are the most important factors for the success of
complete live chase (hunting up, chasing by sight, kill) rather is an
exception during the hunt with a Kelb tal-Fenek than the rule. The
following proceedings are more frequently seen:
to the complexity of its hunting tasks, the Kelb tal-Fenek has a great
ability to learn. He must be able to adjust himself on the terrain and on
the behaviour of his prey. For example,
he must know:
a Kelb tal-Fenek is used for hunting in Malta, he has always to undergo a
training period together with other, experienced dogs. Usually, the
Maltese hunters use well co-operating pairs of one male and one female, in
some cases also larger packs of dogs.
the lure coursing field, the ability of learning is indicated by the way
how the dog recognises the coherence between certain marks of the field
surface and the way of the lure and how he adjusts his own hunting actions
to this facts. This ability of learning should not be misinterpreted as a
lack of enthusiasm or as laziness, since it is one of the very few aspects
of the Kelb tal-Fenek’s manifold hunting abilities, which can be tested
both in real hunting as well as in lure coursing.
The following remarks refer to the five main criteria of the most common judging systems for lure coursing (FCI, ASFA, Windhund-Sportordnung (Germany)).
on the Start:
The dog becomes extremly enthusistic in sight of the prey. The criteria
“enthusiasm” in the best sense of the word can therefore already be
judged when the dogs are brought to the start.
pressure on the lure:
experienced specimen will not exactely follow the track of the lure. This
will only happen in very young, unexperienced dogs. The desire is shown by
the way the dog tries to find the optimum position to cut the way of the
lure already during the run. This will especially happen if the boundaries of
the field indicate that the lure will soon change its direction. The dog
learns very quickly that – different from the hunt on living game – he
has no influence on the actions of the lure, and he will also learn that
the lure will always remain within the boundaries of the field.
style, behaviour on obstacles:
The dog runs free and enthusiastic (but never as deep and stretched as a
Greyhound or Whippet), and he often shows his hunting enthusiasm by a
typical, crying chase barking (in Maltese called „kurriera“). The
running style of the dog shall express attentiveness and readyness for a
quick turn. The dog jumps over obstacles without hesitation, as long as
this is necessary to achieve a good position in follow of the lure.
However, if the surface, the boundaries of the field or the position of
the second dog require a tactical way of running which leads the dog to
skip an obstacle, this shall not be judged as a lack of hunting desire or
when loosing sight on the lure:
When the dog looses sight on the lure, he must start an intensive search.
This can be shown by a circular search over the field, but also by trying
to find the best position to get a survey over the field. In search for
the lure, the dog can even stop or stand on his hind legs, to get the
optimun sight over the field. A permanent strain and the continuous motion
of the ears show that the dog has not given up hunting.
to catch the lure in the run:
The dog will try to catch the lure whenever he gets the chance for it. Due
to the smallness of the hunting terrain in Malta, the Kelb tal-Fenek is
not a breed which will try to tire his prey.
when catching the lure:
The dog will directely catch his prey, whereas he will run on the side,
slightly behind the lure when it begins to slow down, and he will lower
his head and try to catch the lure with his mouth. After the lure has
stopped, he will try to hold the lure both with his mouth and with his
feet. The breed hunts in pairs or in packs, however, they do not show a
pronounced order of precendence when catching a prey. Usually, both dogs
will catch the lure. It might happen that a dog defends his prey against
Interpretation of the field surface: The ability to „read“ the surface of the field is
an outstanding feature of the breed’s hunting behaviour. In lure
coursing, the dog shows his ability to learn by the way he recognises the
coherence between certain, typical characteristics of lure coursing fields
and the motion of the lure. The dog will soon learn that the lure will
always remain within the parameters of the field and that it will never pass fences, cordon
tapes, hedges, bushes, edges of a forest, lines of parking cars,
spectators etc. The attention of experienced dogs might temporarily be
drawn upon looking for such characteristsics of the field. If it is
obvious to the dog that the lure will soon change its direction (since it
e.g. is running towards a fence) an experienced dog will look for
possibilities to cut the way of the lure in a wide range, and he will try
to get an optimun position for catching it.
By his fine sense of hearing, the dog is
also able to locate the sound of the line in the grass. If he has once
noticed that this sound is an indicator for the running way of the lure,
he will also include it in his attempts to cut the way of the artificial
If the dog’s eyes are not always fixed
on the lure, this should not be punished as a lack of attention, as long
as it is obvious that the dog tries to find indications for the next
actions of the lure - this is a sign that the dog has learned about the
behaviour of its prey. A dog, which does not use such chances and only follows the
lure in a straight line, should be rated lower than a dog which tries
to get into the optimum position by continuous, intelligent interpretation of the
In a real hunt, the dog will always try to prevent the rabbit from
escaping into rough, unclear terrain (e.g. bushes). But in lure coursing,
he will soon learn that certain forms of terrain (high grass, reed,
ploughed land) are typical boundaries of a lure coursing field, which will
never be crossed by the lure. Therefore it can be expected that the dog
will hedge the opposite site, since he knows that the lure will change its
direction before reaching such natural boundaries.
The Kelb tal-Fenek hunts for its own success, but he takes the actions of
his partner into consideration for achieving the most promising position
in the field. An experienced specimen of the breed will always try to
catch its prey by choosing the shortest and most efficient way. If a
faster and less experienced dog closely follows the lure, or when the
boundaries indicate a specific way of the lure, he will (probably in a
very wide range) try to cut the way of the lure. The successful attempt to
get the prey in an easy and efficient way is a sign for the dog’s
ability to learn and shall not be misinterpreted as lazyness.
Skill: In the
country of origin, the breed hunts in an extremly difficult terrain.
Therefore it has the ability to turn very quickly and efficiently.
Experienced dogs will not follow each turn of the lure. Due to its ability
to interpret the field surface, to take the actions of the partner into
consideration and to foresee the next actions of the lure from the
boundaries of the field, the dog might act in a wider range and he might
not follow each action of the lure.
the country of origin, the breed works throughout the whole night in a
very continuous and intensive way. Therefore, the requirements of a lure
coursing parcours are no exceptional demands for this breed. It can be
expected that the dog shows the same co-ordinative abilities (agility,
skill, acceleration) in the last part of the parcours as in the beginning.
In the difficult Maltese terrain, not
always the fastest dog gets into the most advantageous position for
catching the prey, but rather the most agile, most attentive and most
intelligent specimen. The Kelb tal-Fenek will never run as deep and
stretched as a Greyhound or Whippet. To preserve the breed typical hunting
abilities, it is very important not to over-emphasize the criteria „speed“
in lure coursing judging, since an extremely fast specimen would have
nearly no chances to survive a hunt in the country of origin without