Dachshunds are elongated dogs with short legs that are of the hound family. They are German in origin, and their name literally means badger dog, though in Germany they are commonly referred to as Dackel or Teckel dogs. The standard sized Dachshund was developed to hunt badgers while the miniature was developed to hunt rabbits.
Dachshunds are low to the ground with very short legs and very muscular bodies. Their skin is very elastic, but not wrinkly. They are very well balanced in spite of their long bodies and they hold their heads high.
Their head taper uniformly to the tip of the nose. Their eyes are medium sized, dark and almond shaped, with dark rims. Their ears are set near the top of their heads, are rounded and moderately long. The flopping down of the ears was intentionally bred into the dog to prevent their ears from getting filled with dirt and other debris while they were hunting under the ground. Their lips are tightly stretched and they have strongly developed teeth that fit closely together in a scissors bite. Their teeth are exceptionally strong for a dog of their size.
Their front legs are very strong, as they were built for flushing animals out of burrows. They have very tight and compact front feet with well arched toes and tough, thick pads. Their hind legs are very well muscled with strong and powerful thighs. Their hind feet are smaller than their front feet. They have a long and rounded croup that sinks slightly toward the tail. Their tails are set in and have no pronounced curving.
The Dachshund has a very fluid gait. Their forelegs reach forward without lifting much as they run.
Dachshunds are very popular in the US, ranking 6th in terms of the number registered with the AKC. This breed has become synonymous with Germany. In fact, they are so closely associated with this country, that a Dachshund was the official mascot for the 1972 Summer Olympics, held in Germany.
There are three coat varieties of Dachshund.
The Smooth Coat-Short, smooth, shiny coat. Should not be long or thick. Their tails should taper gradually without too much hair.
The Wirehaired Coat-This coat consists of a uniform tight coarse outer coat with a finer softer undercoat. This variety of Dachshund has a beard and eyebrows. Hair is shorter and smooth on the ears. Their tails are thickly haired and taper to a point.
The Longhaired Coat-This variety has sleek hair that often has a slight wave. It is longer under the neck and on the fore chest, the underside of the body and on the ears and behind the legs, but they should not have long hair all over the body, nor should their hair be overly curly. Their tails have the longest hair and are carried somewhat like a flag.
It is believed that the ancestors of the Dachshund existed as far back as ancient Egypt, due to artifacts found that depicted small dogs with very short legs. This German breed was developed as a badger hunter hundreds of years ago. In German, "dachs" means badger and "hund" means hound. The breed was derived from a mixture of German, French and English hounds and terriers. These dogs have many terrier traits and are excellent hunters. They have been bred to have very short legs, to help them dig as well as to help them get into the burrows where animals like badgers and rabbits reside.
The first verified reference to a Dachshund comes from books written in the 1700s. The original German Dachshunds were larger than today's standard; weighing as much as 40 pounds. But, over time, they were bred to be smaller to assist them in hunting, and over time, the miniature variety was developed for hunting smaller prey. In addition to furrowing out den animals, dachshunds have also been used as standard hunting dogs, for fox and locating wounded deer. They have even been used in packs to hunt larger game like wild boar, and very fierce animals like wolverines.
Dachshunds are very clever dogs. They have a lively temperament and are very gregarious, but this particular breed is prone to vary in temperament more greatly from dog to dog.
They are brave to a fault; often not realizing how small they are. They are bred for work and have a fair amount of energy. They are very sturdy for their size.
Dachshunds require a large amount of interaction. If they become bored, they can be destructive, so it's important to keep them entertained when you can, and to keep them confined when you can't. Bored Dachshunds have also been known to become aggressive. Socialization is important as is obedience training, since some Dachshunds are very willful. They can also be quite demanding if spoiled. Once trained, they are very loyal and loving to their owners. They can be protective to a fault; they know no fear and will go into battle with any animal they perceive as a threat, regardless of its size.
Dachshunds are extremely playful, and will love a good game of fetch, hide and seek or chase with their owners and with other pets in the home, so long as they are properly socialized with each other. They are prone to chasing small animals and birds when they are outside. For this reason, it's important not to let your dog off his leash in an uncontained area. He may become focused on chasing a bird and run away.
This is not a good breed of puppy to bring into the home if you have small children. However, an adult Dachshund who acquires children will usually do quite well with them, as long as they are properly introduced. Particularly in the case of Miniature Dachshunds, however, children should always be taught how to handle them, since they are somewhat fragile, simply due to their size.
Dachshunds are prone to spinal disc problems, also known as dachshund paralysis. This is due to their very long spinal columns and very short rib cages. Dogs with this problem can become completely paralyzed. For this reason, it's important that your dog be trained early on not to jump, as jumping puts additional pressure on the spine. You should also be taught how to hold your dog properly, as improper handling can lead to back problems, too. Some veterinarians caution against Dachshunds using stairs, though most feel that it does not pose a problem for the dog to use stairs, as long as they are walking instead of running. Researchers are finding that the occurrence and severity of these spinal disc problems are hereditary in large part, so it's important to inquire about such problems from your breeder.
They are also prone to heart disease, urinary tract problems and diabetes. This dog can become inactive as they age, which makes them prone to obesity. This disease causes the same problems in dogs as in humans, shortening their life expectancy and making them more prone to heart disease, joint problems and diabetes. Being overweight also puts additional strain on their backs.
Double Dappled Dachshunds are prone to deafness and blindness. For this reason most good breeders refuse to breed this pattern.
Whenever you purchase a puppy, it's important to purchase from a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders will work hard to breed out deficiencies by not breeding any dog that has shown signs of genetic or health problems. Breeders that are not reputable, however, will breed any dog, and are more likely to replicate genetic problems in their puppies. Before you purchase a puppy, ask questions about the lineage of the puppy.
Longhair dachshunds require daily brushing to keep them free of mats and tangles. Short haired versions will require weekly brushing and wire haired varieties need to be trimmed at least twice a year. This breed is an average shedder; rubbing them down occasionally with a damp towel will help keep the hair at bay
These dogs do need exercise. As young dogs, they are typically quite active, but can get lazy as they get older. So, it's important that you provide them enough opportunities to exercise to keep them strong and prevent obesity. Since this dog is small, games of fetch in the house may be enough to get them proper exercise. However, they will also enjoy a walk with you and can get a good amount of exercise this way. Because of their short legs, they are not considered good running companions.
Dachshunds are very popular breeds for competition. In fact, the Weiner Nationals are extremely popular Dachshund races. In addition, many Dachshunds participate in earth dog trials, competitions for dogs to track and locate artificial bait or caged live mice. Because this breed is a scent hound, they also often compete in scent tracking events. The Dachshund Club of America holds a national scent tracking championship each year for the best trackers in this breed.
The Dachshund requires firm and consistent training, but once trained, they are a great companion dog and extremely loyal. From an early age, they must understand that you are the "alpha dog", as they can be quite stubborn and resist training.
Dachshunds require socialization at an early age, to prevent them from being wary of human strangers and fearful. They should also be taught early on about inappropriate barking and taught not to jump, since this can be dangerous for their spines.
Crate training works well for housebreaking the Dachshund. Because this breed can be stubborn, and because their accidents are easy to miss due to their size, it's important to be very persistent in house breaking them. If they have an accident that goes unnoticed, they will believe that going to the bathroom in the house is acceptable, and the habit will be nearly impossible to break. Keeping your puppy in his crate unless you are actively interacting with him will help ensure that there are no accidents. Puppies should not be allowed to roam the house unsupervised until they are consistently house trained.
It's wise to leave your Dachshund in his crate when you leave the house even after he's house trained, since they are prone to destruction when bored. After a period of time, you will know your dog well and will know whether or not it's safe to allow him to roam the house when you're away.
Average Lifespan: 12-15 years