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If you want to hunt lions and bears, you have to find lions and bears…and in the vast rugged West, that is often easier said than done. For decades, dogs have helped hunters and ranchers locate, track, and tree game in a variety of conditions. Traditionally a roll fulfilled by hounds, Lacys, cur dogs and similar breeds are gaining popularity as effective tree dogs because of their intelligence and versatility.

Mountain lion in Nevada

A mountain lion is generally quick to tree. Photo by Cory Davidson.

“You can go catch a lion Monday, check traps on Tuesday and push cows around on Wednesday,” says Cory Davidson of Central Nevada. Multi purpose dogs are ideal for ranchers. A dog capable of tracking a variety of predators is instrumental in keeping livestock safe from coyotes and big cats. Cory hunts with a mixed pack of hounds and one Lacy. He admires the speed of a Lacy dog and believes they hunt harder…even though the hounds possess a cold nose for picking up the oldest tracks.

Lions, bears, and small game such as racoons and squirrels resort to climbing trees or ledges for safety. Once the dogs have located a track and found the quarry, their job is to push it up a tree and surround the base, baying to keep the animal from fleeing. Dogs that bay consistently and maintain respect for the cat or bear are more effective at holding the animal and less likely to be wounded or killed.

A multi purpose dog does require a bit more time to train. It’s easier to train a pup from experienced dogs than to start from scratch.

Since Lacys are so intelligent, they are easy to teach to track and tree. Most hunters start puppies on drags where a line is tied to a lion pelt (or whichever type of animal you intend to hunt) and drug through the woods. As with blood tracking, a good tracker must be conditioned to track. This means nurturing the desire to hunt and locate prey by keeping it fun and rewarding for the dog. There are few things more fun and exciting to a bay dog than a critter in a cage. A live animal can be trapped and a put it into a cage for the dog to bay and chase across the ground. Though not often thought of as a treeing breed, Lacys can be taught to tree very easily by suspending a caged animal from a tree where the dog has to opportunity to approach the tree and become excited about the prize in the top.

Teaching a lacy to tree is easy!

Lacys and cur dogs are well-balanced breeds, adaptable to various types of hunting and terrain. Their agility, speed, and a baying style that is unrelenting make them good choices for hunting predators in rough country. Although not specifically bred for treeing abilities, they are intelligent enough to learn to tree very quickly and can become proficient in trailing and treeing bear, cougar and bobcat when hunted in packs.

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Host Babe Winkelman and Pro archer Mike Wheeler share their archery adventures for trophy whitetail bucks in Kansas. A lacy dog makes an appearance as the outfitter’s trusty tracking dog.

blue lacy family

Though the Lacy is a wonderfully unique breed, it’s not easy owning a driven working dog. This breed can be challenging and isn’t for everyone. So what type of person should own a Lacy Dog?

1.) You have a real job for your dog. Lacys are very popular with hog hunters in Texas. They make great tracking dogs for deer hunters. They are a huge help to professional trappers. Cattle ranchers can move an entire herd with just two dogs. If you want to compete at the top levels of agility or flyball, these dogs have the natural talent to take you there. And they make good all-purpose ranch dogs, patrolling the property, killing varmints and protecting their family. But if you have to make up a job to justify having a Lacy, this isn’t the right breed for you. If you need a working companion, Lacys are incredibly driven, intelligent dogs that rise to the challenge.

2.) You have a very active lifestyle. If you’re a professional rancher or hunter, that is pretty much taken care of. But people who want to use Lacys for tracking or dog sports need to keep their dogs active and entertained on a daily basis. Lacys don’t make good couch potatoes, especially when they are young. Long daily walks are just the beginning when it comes to meeting their exercise needs. So if you like to go jogging in the mornings and hiking every weekend before deer season starts, you might make a good Lacy owner.

3.) You are an experienced dog owner. Lacys are extremely smart dogs, and while that means they can learn new tasks very quickly, it also leads to independent thinking and testing boundaries. Many Lacy owners say their dogs talk back to them and will even question their authority. This breed is very pack oriented, so it’s especially important their owner is a strong leader. All of that can be overwhelming for first-time owners. But if you have experience with curs or active herding dogs, you might be prepared for a Lacy. Read the rest of this entry »

Set your DVR and clear your schedule — Lacys are coming to a TV near you on June 16 at 9 p.m. CT!

In March, a film crew from the History Channel spent the day filming Lacys for the series Life After People. They feature several dog breeds in the series, highlighting just how dependent most canines are on people. But the story of the Lacy is different. A tough breed with the drive and skills to fend for themselves, Lacy Dogs would they have no problem surviving in a world without people.

We got the dogs to pull off some great tricks for the camera, and the original footage will be accompanied by an interview with Jimmy Brooks, the president of the National Lacy Dog Association who has been breeding Lacys for over 50 years.

Don’t miss the Lacy episode of Life After People on June 16 at 9 p.m. CT. More information about this fascinating series from the History Channel after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Though Lacys excel as woods dog, they also do well bay pen dogs. Bay competitions are similar to herding trials. One or two dogs works to control a feral hog in a pen. They are judged on style, intensity and focus. Catching and holding is a disqualification.

These new videos show feature Lacys in the Two Dog division at the Bremond Bay Competition in May.

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There is no single, surefire method to train a Lacy on hogs. Each dog is different and what works for one hunter may not work for another. However, these are some of the things we’ve found most successful with our own dogs as well as other dogs we have trained. Please remember safety first and be patient.

The first step, regardless of the dog’s age, is introducing them to a hog. Our own pups start that process at six to eight weeks old, always on a hog of equal or smaller size. The puppies typically see the piglet as a playmate until the piglet nips them, which is usually what “keys” the pup off. Older dogs may need a companion to help them find their way. We use one of our finished dogs to teach older pups and dogs the first few times. After that introduction, we have them work alone for a while so they learn to trust themselves.

As the dog progresses and gains confidence, as well as knowledge of how the hog moves and thinks, we graduate them up in hog size until they can control a 200 to 250 pound boar efficiently. Repetition is important, working the dog on a daily bases increases their drive and helps keep them focused. A young pup will have a short attention span, so five to ten minutes a day is enough. Older dogs can work anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. It’s important not to overwork your dog. Give them breaks and let them get a drink. Read the rest of this entry »

Lacys were developed to be an all-around working dog. Our new series, Lacys at Work, explores the numerous jobs the breed excels at.

lacy agility jump

What is agility?
This modern dog sport is all about speed and accuracy. Modeled after equestrian show jumping, the goal of the handler and their dog is to complete a set of obstacles in the fastest time without any disqualifications. The most common obstacles are the bar jump, tire jump, tunnel, chute, teeter, A-frame, dog walk, weave poles and pause table. Courses are designed to test the team with tight turns, close obstacles, distance work and much more. In addition to standard agility, some organizations offer classes like jumpers, gambler’s choice, juniors and relays. But whether or not you want to compete, agility training is a great way to challenge your Lacy both physically and mentally.

How do agility dogs work?
The most important quality of a winning agility team is obedience. Dogs must run through the course without a leash, treats or toys. A close connection between the dog and their handler is extremely important. They must be in constant communication via hand signals and voice commands to successfully navigate a challenging course. Dogs also need to be accurate in order to earn a qualifying score for their round. To earn credit for the dog walk, A-frame and teeter, they must touch the yellow contact zones at the beginning and end of the obstacle. When negotiating the weave poles, the dog must enter to the right of the first pole and proceed through the entire series without missing any. They also must negotiate the tire correctly, jumping through the center ring, and cannot knock down jump poles. Speed is icing on the cake. Of the dogs that complete the proper course with no faults, the fastest round wins. Read the rest of this entry »

hunt-for-the-hungry

The National Lacy Dog Association is teaming up with the Texas Dog Hunters Association and Hunters’ Harvest to sponsor the 2009 Hunt for the Hungry!

Now in its fourth year, the Hunt for the Hungry is the largest charity hunt in the United States. In 2008, over 20,000 pounds of pork was collected to feed hungry families across Texas. It is also the richest hog dog tournament in Texas. The winning team will walk away with over $3,000 and numerous prizes. But the biggest reward is knowing you and your dogs helped fill the stomachs of very needy families.

In addition to sponsoring the Heaviest Boar Bonus, the NLDA will do everything we can to make sure Lacys are well represented in this contest. Teams are comprised of four people and their dogs hunting from Feb. 27 through March 1. The main event is judged on each team’s five heaviest hogs. It will take skill as well as stamina to excel in this tournament, and we know Lacy hog dogs are up to the challenge.

To learn more about the rules and how to enter, please visit the Meetings & Events section at the NLDA forums. We hope you and your Lacys can join us in supporting this great cause!

The world of hog dogging can be broken into two distinct fields: bay pen competitions and woods hunting. Each requires intelligence, endurance and agility. The Lacy dog excels in both arenas. But there are a few differences between woods dogs and bay pen dogs. It is important to understand the nuances of both venues to maximize your Lacy’s potential.

lacy baying a pig

In a bay pen competition, the dog is placed in a large round pen with a boar. Two or three judges are evenly spaced around the pen to evaluate how well the dog controls the hog. The dog is required to bay the pig continuously for a timed period without looking out of the pen. They are judged on style, intensity and focus. Catching or holding is a disqualification.

Sounds simple enough right? Wrong! Bay pen dogs must develop an intimate knowledge of their quarry. They need to understand the nature of the beast in order to control it. Read the rest of this entry »

The National Lacy Dog Association wishes you and your loved ones a happy 2009!

We wish you and your loved ones a happy 2009!

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