Please note: This page contains program information for a festival that has already taken place. For current information on the upcoming festival, see

Truffle Dog Training Seminar

Jim Sanford's Dog Tom of Blackberry Farm
Truffle Dog Training Seminar 2011
Truffle Dog Training Seminar
Truffle Dog Training Seminar 2011
Truffle Dog Training Seminar
Truffle Dog Training Seminar 2009

A wonderful irony lies at the heart of the truffle’s mystique: the world's most treasured culinary delicacy lives hidden underground where only pigs and dogs can find it. We humans who value truffles so much are unable to enjoy them without the help of animals.

Most truffle hunters employ dogs in the search. And so, besides days spent on quiet journeys through damp autumn and winter woodlands, the life of a truffle hunter is also one of constant companionship with rewards beyond the ordinary. Who wouldn’t enjoy such a life? Another part of the truffle’s mystique is the exclusivity and secrecy around its harvest. It is an experience few people can ever enjoy.

While pigs need no instruction, the knowledge required by hunters and dogs is usually passed down through generations. The hunter learns where to go and what to look for from older members of his or her family or community, and dogs typically learn by tagging along with an older, more proficient truffle dog. Learning to find truffles without someone to show us where to look - short of spending a fortune on truffles for training - isn't easy.

Until recently, this charming partnership between dog and human in search of culinary treasure could be experienced only in the hills of southern Europe, leaving the bounty of truffles in North American woodlands undiscovered. With burgeoning truffle orchards, and an abundance of native truffle species throughout the forested regions of the continent, the need and opportunity to employ truffle dogs is growing.

We are proud to have established The Truffle Dog Training Seminar, the first event of its kind in North America. It has taken a long time to introduce truffle dogs to this continent, but now in its sixth year, OTF’s Truffle Dog Training Seminar has become a unique opportunity to both observe the handling and training of skilled truffle dogs, and to teach your own dog to detect the scent of truffles.

This singular event begins on Friday January 25th in the classroom, with lectures on canine scent detection and the fundamentals of scent training, as well as practical sessions with your dog at the Festival Headquarters Hotel. On the second day, participants and their dogs have a one of a kind opportunity to engage in an authentic hunt for wild truffles in their natural habitat; and yes, you absolutely do get to keep the truffles you find.

Training a working truffle dog requires ongoing repetition and dedication over months or years. However, the past two years have shown that while not every beginning dog will locate wild truffles during this two day introduction, many will succeed, and everyone who attends will gain the basic instruction necessary to carry out the longer term training required by every good truffle dog.

This seminar is intended for those with an interest in commercial harvest of truffles, either from natural woodlands or orchards of trees inoculated with the European truffles, as well as those whose interests are primarily recreational.

The Instructors

D. Glenn Martyn, currently a canine behavior consultant with decades of experience and a broad background in scent and service dog training. Glenn serves on various international university faculties and nonprofit dog training organization directorships. His work has included training dogs for television and movies, obedience, show, field, police service, search and rescue and tracking, as well as years of instructing, managing and directing dog trainers and dog training programs.

Jim Sanford of Blackberry Farm Resort, renowned elephant trainer and handler of North America’s first “professional” truffle dog who in one season has located as much as 200 lbs of French black truffles in truffle orchards in east Tennessee. Jim also directs one of North America’s largest truffle dog breeding programs for Lagotto Romagnolos as part of his work at Blackberry Farm.

Deb Walker of K-9 Behavior Company: For the last 15 years, Deb has been an Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association Certified K9 Handler of Search & Rescue ‘Wilderness Air Scent’ ‘Trailing’ ‘Cadaver’ and ‘Water Recovery’ K9’s. She trains her own dogs and helps others train their SAR K9’s. While retired from SAR, Deb is sought after in K9 SAR circles and continues to help handlers solve training/performance problems. Deb has taken up truffle dog training for the past 3 years, and in 2012 assisted in OTF's truffle dog training program. Deb has been training dogs for over 30 years and personally owned and trained 5 German Shepherd dogs in various disciplines. She currently owns Tucker, a Standard Poodle and trained Truffle Dog. K-9 Website

The Details

Attendance to this unique event is limited to 24 dogs. Final approval will be determined by the instructors. Dogs in attendance must be well-behaved with other dogs as well as other people, and no females in heat will be allowed. The instructors also reserve the right to have seriously misbehaving dogs excluded from further activities if necessary.

The Truffle Dog Training Seminar will be held Friday, January 24th, and Saturday, January 25th, 2014. Friday’s event is at The Hilton Eugene, Headquarters Hotel for the Oregon Truffle Festival. Saturday’s event is in the field, consisting of further training followed by a truffle hunt for the native Oregon truffles.

Because attendance is limited to just 24 dogs, a limited number of people will be allowed to audit the Friday session *without dogs*.

Tickets can also be purchased as part of Experience Four, The Epicurious Harvester, which includes the Friday Opening event, Friday and Saturday's evening meals, the Sunday Truffle Brunch, and the Oregon Truffle Marketplace.

Please contact Dr. Charles Lefevre with questions.


Our host hotel, The Hilton Eugene, is dog friendly, providing a separate area in the hotel for everyone’s comfort and enjoyment.