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Breed Spotlight: The Dachshund

Weiner Dogs. Everyone loves them, and for good reason! These small dogs pack a big punch in the arenas of personality and adorable looks. But there's so much more to these long bundles of love.


A "dapple" Miniature Dachshund

Size

According to the AKC breed standard, the Dachshund is "bred and shown in only two sizes, standard and miniature; miniatures are not a separate classification but compete in a class division for 11 pounds and under at 12 months of age and older. Weight of the standard size is usually between 16 and 32 pounds." Teacup is not a recognized size but is a marketing buzzword used by unethical breeders and should be considered a red flag.


A Smooth Dachshund

Coat

There are three recognized coat types in Dachshunds: smooth, long, and wire. Smooth Dachshunds are the most widely seen, with a short coat that lies flat against the body. The longhaired variety is just as the name would suggest, featuring long wispy hair and feathering on the ears and tail. The wire coat requires the most work to maintain out of the three, with thick wiry hair and beard that must be trimmed or (preferably) plucked to the appropriate length and at the appropriate places.



Breed History

The first verifiable references to the dachshund, originally named the "Dachs Kriecher" (translation: badger crawler) or "Dachs Krieger" (translation: badger warrior), came from books written in the early 18th century. There exist earlier references to "badger dogs" and "hole dogs," but these likely refer to purposes rather than to specific breeds.


The Dachshunds, an 1893 Painting by John Emms

The original German dachshunds were larger than the modern full-size variety, weighing between 31 and 40 lbs., and originally came in "straight-legged" and "crook-legged" varieties (the modern dachshund is descended from the latter). Though the breed is famous for its use in exterminating badgers and badger-baiting, dachshunds were also commonly used for rabbit and fox hunting, for locating wounded deer, and in packs were known to hunt game as large as wild boar and as fierce as the wolverine. Later iterations of the Dachshunds that were produced in a much more compact size were also famously used to exterminate rats (a far superior method of rodent control than cats).


"Dachs 16" - the first Dachshund to ever be photographed

There are huge differences of opinion as to when dachshunds were specifically bred for their purpose of hunting badger. The American Kennel Club states the dachshund was bred in the 15th century, while the Dachshund Club of America states that foresters bred the dogs in the 18th century. Between you and me, I have found more evidence that suggests the latter estimation to be far closer. Double-dapple dachshunds, which are prone to eye disease, blindness, or hearing problems, are generally believed to have been introduced to the United States between 1879 and 1885.


A group of Longhaired Dachshunds

The flap-down ears and long oft-up-turned tail of the dachshund have deliberately been bred into the dog. In the case of the ears, this is to keep grass seeds, dirt, and other debris from entering the ear canal. The distinct tail is dual-purposed: to be seen more easily in long grass (some badger hunters would even paint the tip white, leading to many breeders selectively breeding white-tipped tails which are still sometimes seen today) and, in the case of burrowing dachshunds, to help haul the dog out if it becomes stuck in a burrow.


The exact genetic origins of the dachshund are unknown, with only speculation as to what breeds were used as the foundation. According to William Loeffler, from The American Book of the Dog (1891), in the chapter on dachshunds, "the origin of the Dachshund is in doubt, our best authorities disagreeing as to the beginning of the breed." What can be agreed on, however, is that the smooth dachshund gave rise to both the long-haired and the wire-haired varieties.


A Longhaired Dachshund

There are two theories about how the standard long-haired dachshund came about. One theory is that smooth dachshunds would occasionally produce puppies which had slightly longer hair than their parents. By selectively breeding these animals, breeders eventually produced a dog which consistently produced long-haired offspring, and the long-haired dachshund was born. Another theory is that the standard long-haired dachshund was developed by breeding smooth dachshunds with various land and water spaniels. The long-haired dachshund may be a cross among any of the small dog breeds in the spaniel group, including the German Stoeberhund, and the smooth dachshund.


The wire-haired dachshund, the last to develop, was bred in the late 19th century. There is a possibility the wire-haired dachshund was a cross between the smooth dachshund and various hard-coated terriers and wire-haired pinschers, such as the Schnauzer, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the German Wirehaired Pointer, or perhaps the Scottish Terrier.


Temperament

These canines are known for having huge personalities. They can be assertive and stubborn but are very intelligent and trainable dogs. They typically get along well with other household pets, as long as they are socialized early. They are often suspicious of strangers but tend to warm up quickly. When inside the home a well socialized Dachshund should be, for the most part, accepting of new humans. Though this may sometimes happen on a timeline that only they know. Outside of the home a well socialized Dachshund should be accepting of human interaction.


Wirehaired Puppy

Home Life

Few breeds are as adaptable than the Dachshund. They are perfectly at home in an apartment or a farm, provided they get affection and exercise. Regardless of where you call home, they'll be sure to let you know when anyone approaches the premises with their loud and sharp barks (they are a vocal breed). So, while they adapt well to apartment life, neighbors on the other side of thin walls may not appreciate them very much. Exercising your Dachshund for 30 to 60 minutes each day (a bit more for more energetic individuals) should be enough to keep them content and calm. Exercising can be as simple as playing fetch for an extended period of time down the hallway or simply running around in your fenced yard.


Smooth-haired Puppy

Health

Getting your Dachshund from an ethical breeder is imperative. Dachshunds that are not well-bred have a much greater risk of back issues and leg problems. Knowledgeable breeders know how to breed for correct form and muscle structure. A well-bred Dachshund that is exercised appropriately should develop ZERO back issues.


The Long and Short of it

They are devoted, affectionate, silly, brave, and most other positive attributes you can think of to apply to a canine. Adopt or shop responsibly, remember the importance of regular exercise, socialize them well and early, and you will be rewarded 100 times over.


Dachshund (Smooth Coat) Breed Judging at Westminster Dog Show

Dachshunds (Longhaired) Breed Judging Dachshunds (Wirehaired) Breed Judging


Further Resources:


You can view all of our Breed Spotlight posts here.


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