Dachshund: Breed Facts & Temperament
There is no mistaking the Dachshund for any other dog breed. This is one of the most adorable breeds on the planet. Underneath its long and low silhouette and vivacious personality is the heart of a true hunter. They have this endearing nature that has won countless hearts all over the world.
History of the Dachshund
No one knows the exact origins of the Dachshund. There were theories circulating in the late 19th century that it is the direct descendant of similar-looking dogs from ancient Egypt. The modern breed is the result of German selective breeding practices that included German “badger dogs” and the different breeds of terriers and hounds from England and France.
The earliest verifiable references to the breed come from early 18th century books. These pieces of literature described the existence of the “Dachs Krieger” or the “Dachs Kriecher’, meaning badger warrior or badger crawler, respectively.
Prior to these books, however, there are also unverified sources that refer to the existence of “hole dogs” and “badger” dogs. The problem with these “names” was that they were referring to the purpose of the dog and not its breed. Hence, a badger dog is a canine that hunts badgers.
The AKC believes that the Dachshund was first bred some 600 years ago, in the 15th century. The Dachshund Club of America, on the other hand, said that the breed has its origins in the 18th to 19th century.
Throughout the years, breeders either employed selective breeding practices or did extensive crossbreeding to produce different varieties of Dachshunds. For instance, dogs with wiry coats are perfect for hunting through patches of thorny briers. The long-coated varieties are ideal for colder climates. The original Dachshund is the smooth-coated variety, however.
The first Dachshunds arrived in the United States sometime in the last quarter of the 19th century, brought by German immigrants. The American Kennel Club admitted the Dachshund into its Stud Book in 1885. The breed’s popularity was immediate and lasted well into the 21st century.
In the 2018 listing of the AKC’s most popular canine breeds, the Dachshund retained its number 13 position. It remains one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.
Quick Facts about the Dachshund
Aside from being a formidable badger hunter, there are many more interesting facts about the Dachshund.
- They Come in Three Sizes
The original badger dog was bigger than its modern descendant. This is important because it had to square off with a larger badger. Sometimes, they also hunt wild boars and wolverines as pack hunters.
Today, Dachshunds come in three sizes, the Standard, the Miniature, and the Kaninchen. Standard Dachshunds can reach a height of 9 inches, although never less than 8 inches. They also weigh about 16 to 32 pounds. Miniature Dachshunds, meanwhile, do not weigh more than 12 lbs. They also should not be more than 6 inches tall. The Kaninchens are almost similar to Miniatures, but should never weigh more than 11 lbs.
It is important to understand that the AKC and the Kennel Club UK do not recognize the Kaninchen. The Federation Cynologique Internationale and other major kennel clubs do recognize the variant, however.
- They Come in Three Types of Coats
Dachshunds come in smooth-coated, wire-haired, and longhaired varieties. Each of these variants has very fascinating stories to tell. The original smooth badger dog is the result of crossbreeding a German Shorthaired Pointer and a Pinscher. The Bracke was also introduced into the gene pool to give it its length. Some say that the shorthaired Dachshund is the result of crossbreeding a Pinscher and a French Pointer.
There are two theories as to the origins of the longhaired Dachshund. One theory holds that smooth-coated dogs have the tendency to produce at least one puppy with a long coat. Breeders then used these longhaired puppies in their selective breeding program to produce more longhaired badger dogs. The second theory is that the longhaired variety is the result of crossbreeding a shorthaired Dachshund with spaniels, like the German Stoeberhund.
The wire-haired variety of Dachshunds is the last to be created. It comes from the crossbreeding of a smooth Dachshund with wire-haired pinschers and hard-coated terriers. These included the Scottish Terrier, the Dandle Dinmont Terrier, the Schnauzer, and the German Wirehaired Pointer.
- Germany and the Dachshund are Inseparable
The Dachshund has become the national symbol of Germany. There are published reports of Nazi experiments prior to the Second World War saying that the Germans were able to produce a “talking” Dachshund.
Being the symbol of Germany, the Dachshund saw a decline in popularity during both World Wars. In an effort to circumvent the growing unpopularity of the breed, many American breeders began renaming them as Liberty Hounds. It also became the Olympics’ first ever official mascot during the 1972 Munich Olympics.
- The Dachshund Sausage Dog
Sausage, as a food item, has been around since the 9th century BC. The modern hot dog, however, traces its roots to 17th century Germany. Johann Georghehner was able to create a “little-dog” sausage he called the “dachshund”. He went to Frankfurt in the hope of making gains for his new product.
In the US, a German immigrant first sold the dachshund sausage, complete with sauerkraut and milk rolls in the 1860s. Charles Feltman opened the very first hot dog stand in Coney Island in 1871. So, how did it become “hot dog” instead of the Dachshund Sausage Dog? One story is that of a writer who did not know how to spell the word “dachshund”. He wrote “hot dog” instead. But the earliest reference to the phrase “hot dog” is the 1895 Yale Record issue. It published a story about a lunch cart that served “hot dogs” to the hungry students of Yale University.
- Dachshunds are Formidable Hunters
Dachshund means badger dog in Germany. Hence, these dogs are very skilled at hunting and exterminating a formidable foe. Badgers have razor-sharp claws and teeth. They can grow up to 40 pounds and live in underground burrows. They use their long and powerful claws to dig deep into the terrain and secure for themselves a fortress.
The long and slender body of the original badger dogs or “Dachs Krieger” allow it to enter through the badger’s hole. It bays the animal inside and lets out a series of loud barks. This alerts its human hunting companions to mark the location of the badger from above ground.
Aside from their skill in exterminating badgers as well as baiting these animals, Dachshunds are also excellent in hunting foxes and rabbits. They can also locate a wounded deer. When hunting in packs, they can square off with wild boars and wolverines. This is a dog that doesn’t know when to back off.
Things You Should Know
At this point, you may have already decided to get a Dachshund for your family. Before you finalize that decision, make sure you understand the following things first.
While a formidable hunter, the Dachshund is not the healthiest breed. It is one of those canine breeds that have a lot of health problems that can include intervertebral disk disease and patellar luxation. In severe cases of IVDD, the Dachshund may require a cart in case of paralysis. Patellar luxation is more common among wire-haired varieties.
Double dapple Dachshunds can also present with hearing and vision loss. Some dogs can be born without eyes. There can be full or partial deafness, congenital eye defects, ear malformations, and other genetic defects.
In addition to these health concerns, Dachshunds can also have hereditary epilepsy, Cushing’s syndrome, allergies, granulomatous meningoencephalitis, thyroid disease, atopies, and autoimmune disorders. Some dogs are also more prone to developing cherry eye, nonulcerative corneal disease, corneal ulcers, glaucoma, cataract, and progressive retinal atrophy. They also have a higher risk of developing patent ductus arteriosus. It is also quite prone to gastric torsion.
Despite these diseases, Dachshunds can live up to 16 years if well-cared for. If not, then they can only live up to 12 years. It is still longer than the average lifespan of large and giant dog breeds.
Since one of the major health problems of the breed is allergies, it is always best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best possible food for the dog. If the allergen is unknown, the pet will have an elimination diet to help zero-in on the possible allergen.
When we say “regular” we did not mean cheap and filler-rich dog food. Pets deserve only high-quality and well-balanced food for them to grow as healthy as possible. Vitamins are crucial in the maintenance of their eyesight. High-quality proteins are also needed to make sure that the dog’s muscles and other organs reach their optimum development. Antioxidants can help bolster the pet’s immune system while aiding in the promotion of healthy skin and coat.
Do not overfeed a Dachshund. If you can provide it with plenty of exercise every day, then it is possible to increase its feeding portions. However, one should always take into account other factors such as life stage, age, and health condition when calculating for the number of calories that the Dachshund should consume.
Because the Dachshund is not the healthiest of dog breeds, regular wellness examinations are a must. This is to make sure that risk factors are managed before they contribute in the development of disease. Having a complete DNA test for the pet can help identify disease markers that it may have. This can help pet parents better prepare in the management of these health problems.
Dachshunds are an active breed, owing to their badger hunter nature. As such, they require plenty of activities to keep them stimulated. However, one should always exercise caution in the choice of exercise because of the different health conditions that the dog may have.
Puppies should always undergo socialization early in their lives. What would surprise most dog owners is that the breed was named as the most aggressive dog breed in a study published in the Applied Animal Behavior Science journal in 2008.
In addition to the routine veterinary care, Dachshunds also need protection against the usual parasites like heartworm, fleas, ticks, flies, and others.
Longhaired Dachshunds need frequent brushing to maintain the health of their coat. Smooth badger dogs do not require that much brushing. Do keep in mind, however, that this dog is known for rolling in stinky things. It would not be surprising if you have to bathe the dog every 5 to 6 weeks.
Wire-haired Dachshunds need a different kind of grooming. They tend to produce dead hairs which a groomer can pluck out every 5 to 6 months. Its bushy eyebrows and beard also need regular trimming. Both longhaired and wire-haired varieties need their excess hair in their paw pads trimmed.
The rest is routine, such as brushing the teeth, cleaning the ears, and clipping the nails.
Clever and determined, the Dachshund has a singular focus when it comes to hunting badgers. It will never give up until it has seized its target. This breed is also known for its courage, albeit to the point of carelessness and rashness. Their brave and fearless nature makes them excellent watchdogs.
Speaking of their vigilance, these dogs can produce a deep and loud bark. It is what they use to alert their human masters to the presence of a badger in its burrow. Unfortunately, your neighbors may not be too keen on having a loud, yappy dog.
Wire-haired Dachshunds have the temperament of terriers. They love getting into trouble while sporting a clownish attitude. Longhaired varieties are the mellowest of the three. They have a more biddable personality and do not bark that much. The smooth Dachshund is the dog kingdom’s answer to the Norse God of Mischief, Loki.
It is easy to get a Dachshund into your home. But they are not for everyone. They are feisty, willful, and very challenging to train. If you cannot manage its spunkiness, this is a breed that will turn your life upside down.