Truffle Hound Training and Woodland Surveys

Truffle Hound Training

If training your hound is something you have been thinking of doing, contact me for a chat and I will see what I can do for you and your dogA training course over a period of six weeks is recommended . Most of these courses are group courses. However individual days can be arranged to suit your needs and I can also travel to you for private one to one sessions in your home and garden to start with.

I prefer to start truffle training as soon as possible, it can enhance general training which includes fun and games so the younger the better. Dogs after the age of five seem to be harder to train and although not completely out the question, it is not recommended. People often ask me which breed is best, quite honestly as long as your dog has a good temperament, a good nose and is happy to please (perhaps encouraged by a treat or two) you’re onto a winner! All my training is based on reward but with a fun and serious approach, they will be working dogs after all! I chose a lab because they are working dogs: they have excellent noses, they are loyal, greedy and mostly very willing to please their owners.

A dog that is specifically bread for truffle hunting which is broadly used in Italy is the Lagotto Romagnolo the Romagna Water Dog. However, many breeds of dogs are used: Spaniels, Beagles, Poodles, Dachshunds, Retrievers and the trusted mongrels too!

Zebedee’s breeder allowed me to put truffle oil on his mothers teats when he was suckling. This was the first stage complete and it was not easy to find a breeder willing to do this. Zebedee has loved truffle oil and truffles ever since so occasionally as they do in France I give him a little broken piece if he has been an especially good boy! Hence the picture below of him licking the truffle oil bottle, taken by Nick Weston.

Training has to be consistent but when you see your dog developing into a successful truffle hound, it’s a great feeling and moment. Not all dogs are the same and they learn at different rates, some will get it straight away while others might take a few years and need a bit of fine tuning or not get it at all.

I now train dogs to sit instead of digging when they indicate a truffle. I learned the hard way with Zeb who was initially trained to dig. He likes to do this especially as he is partial to eating them so if I don’t get there first, he will. It’s hard to wrestle Zebedee but not as hard as struggling with a pig. Zebedee is generally on the lead when truffle hunting to have my share of the finds and to minimize upsetting nearby wildlife, especially pheasants. Pheasant rearing is prevalent in our woodlands today so training your dog to have no interest in them and other wildlife is a huge benefit and will not detract them from their work. A blood lust is not want you want!

I use homemade local truffle oil for training in winter and fresh truffle during the season as much as possible. There is always a dry one lurking around, they work well too.

Harvesting and Surveying

If you think that your woodland may have the ingredients to be a wild orchard, Zebedee is available to be used in  woodland surveys, searching for truffle presence or private and commercial harvesting.

34 thoughts on “Truffle Hound Training and Woodland Surveys

  1. I’m retired (mostly) and live 5 minutes walk away from Major Oak in Sherwood Forest. Although not a particularly large or remote area you can walk around all day and meet very few other people. I usually spend a few hours each week wandering around with a camera and rarely come home without a good shot or two – flowers, mosses, fungi and the odd insect or bird if I can get close enough. My daughter has a Cocker Spaniel pup – happy and hyperactive – who usually manages to ruin any quiet contemplation of Nature and loves to be involved when I’m on my hands and knees focusing on fungi, usually by stamping on the damn thing. Rather than continue cursing the poor animal perhaps this enthusiasm could be channelled into something both old git and young dog could enjoy? Could you point me towards a truffle hound training technique?

    I’ve thought of buying a bottle of truffle oil and some cotton balls to hide around the garden, rewarding the mutt when she finds one but would I be training her to look for a scent that is not locally available? Trees in the area include Birch, Oak, Sweet Chestnut, Beech and the usual Forestry Commission softwoods, if that’s of any relevance.

    • Hi Tony,

      Well thats pretty much how I started, persistence, lots of reward, train your dog to sit as an indication of truffle presence and you will be well on your way. I am not sure what soil is present around your area, the summer truffle has a fairly broad soil preference from chalk, to clay’ preferring high pH. It is always best to get your dog out in a wild truffle woodland during training so that they know what they are looking for as soon as they have the jist of it. I also use bottled jars of summer truffles when very desperate from Waitrose, they are sort of cooked in a little jus but perfect for a local truffle odour rather than a white truffle oil for example. Although I have been told that this does not matter but I know what I prefer. When I find truffles I make my own oil, you could purchase truffles and make your own although its not always successful, it can go off quite quickly. This oil can be quite dangerous and botulism can occur in this process if not done correctly and be very dangerous! Hope this has been of some help, if not I offer truffle hound training which can always be of advantage and ensure you are on the right path.
      .

  2. HI Melissa,

    Loving your blog. I’ve got a 2 1/2 year old collie cross called Lebowski, we’ve been training him and he’s got a good nose and can sniff out a potato with truffle oil wherever we hide it. No joy in the woods though, I think it’s us that needs the training! Would you be running any courses/ have any details any time soon?

    Liam

  3. Pingback: A Hunting We Will Go - for truffles | Favourite TablesFavourite Tables

  4. Hi, I was thinking about starting truffle hunt training with my dog, he loves sniffing things out and rooting around in leaf litter and I think he would enjoy it, what is involved in the training? could you let me know more details of your courses please
    Many Thanks,

    Gemma

  5. We have a poodle-collie cross puppy which we have named Truffle Hound (Truffle, for short), so I was greatly amused to seephotos of similar dogs on a Truffle hound photo site. He does spend a lot of time digging; perhaps we should enrol him in a truffle training programme!

    • Hello, yes poodles have a long history truffle hunting in France; well you know who to call! Just let me know.

      Thanks for the interest.

  6. We are interested in training an 8 month old Sussex Spaniel and live in n.california. Can you make any recommendations?
    Thank you so much,

  7. Hi I have a 5 month old cockapoo and would like to train it to find truffles. I have been picking wild mushrooms for a few years and I think in one woods close to me there are a few truffle trees. I would love to be able to get a few and leave the nuts amanitas and Russia’s for the squirrels. When is a day course for the dog training? I would love to buy some fresh truffle oil to start training ASAP. Kind regards Ash

  8. I have to say I’m quite interested in this. I have a Labrador who I have done gundog training with since he was a puppy – he’s five in March. He is too noisy to be a gundog but he lives for the hunt and the retrieve rather than the fact it is a bird. We train down in West Sussex, so I’m just wondering if he could turn his nose to truffles rather than pheasants…

  9. We are about to start looking for a family dog who we can hopefully train to hunt for truffles. We don’t really want to get a puppy. Could you suggest a small and family friendly dog suitable and what age? Thank you

    • surprisingly many breeds will fit the bill, working stock is always good perhaps a gun dog that has not quite made the grade, a dog that is willing and happy to please is essential, the younger the better really. Many good dogs need rehoming but you need one without any previous issues so be careful, puppies are sometimes hard work but worth the bond from start to finish. Poodles, dachshunds, spaniels, mixed breeds, all have good potential but I train all sorts from Dobermans to Terriers with good results.

  10. Hi
    Thanks for.this website.is really informative.
    Was wondering if you do.any truffles hunting this season?
    Thanks
    Have a good day.
    Emma

    • Yes Emanuela look under my foray dates in the top bar of this blog, they start in September.

  11. I am looking for a dog so that they can be trained or it will be trained to hunt truffles can you help me locate a trainer in my area and which species of dog would you recommend. I live in Tacoma Washington.

    • I can’t I’m afraid. A lab, spaniel, poodle, most dogs with a long snout and willingness to please, mixed breeds work well too 🙂

  12. Hi, I am very interested in the hound training. I look after two dachshunds and the youngest is three. He is a little hunter always has his nose to the ground! I feel I live in the perfect truffle area. The farm is chalk based with loads of beech and hazel. I’ve always thought it would be worth looking and found your website.

    Could you please send me some more info on the classes ie the price, where they are held and if there is a waiting list.

    Regards

    Lynda Hurst

  13. Thanks that’s fascinating
    I am thinking about getting a dog and is like him to contribute something to the household. A working dog. I had a poodle as a kid and have a soft spot for them. Thinking of getting a deerhound/lurcher poodle cross if I can. Do you think lurchers/ hounds have the temperament to find truffles. Ps I’m a herbalist so I like wandering the hills finding plants.

    • Hi Hazel perhaps not a lurched but you never know, would not be my choice, if you have a soft spot for poodles I would go that route they have a long history of hunting truffle.

  14. Very good article I am from western part of libya where truffles grow allover the desert and easy to cultivate but at the end of the season a trained dog will yeild agood income for the owner
    Best regards
    Salem asaleh
    email address/
    gtsc.libya@gmail.com
    .

  15. Hi, We have a Goldendoodle, and she is 17 months old, Ironically her name is TRUFFLE.
    I have always been facinated with truffles, and saw on Meridian the other evening a dog almost identical to my dog truffle hunting in Wiltshire. I would love truffle to go truffle hunting. I am disabled but it is one of my dreams, even if only once to find some truffle. I used to be a chef, so that is another reason why.
    Truffle is a very fast learner, and I think she would love it, She has an amazing temperarment too. This is on my bucket list, before it’s not possible for me anymore.
    My email is mikkij31@outlook.com.
    Very many thanks
    Michaela

  16. I am interested in training my 5 month old Labrador retriever to truffle hunt. Could you advise as to availability of courses and cost? Thanks

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