The Dachshund is a German breed, which was developed in the 1600’s to hunt badger. Nothing is known about how the breed developed, however it is thought that it resulted from the combination of German, English and French terriers and hounds. It has quite a mixed up ancestry! The Dachshund’s long body and courageous temperament allowed them to make their way inside the badger burrow and fight the badger in its own den.
The Dachshund was registered by the AKC in 1885, and is often one of the top ten most popular breeds in the country.
Although they are classed as a hound breed, the Dachshund shares a lot of the characteristics of the terrier group, in that they go to ground to hunt.
The most distinctive features of the Dachshund is their elongated body, and their short legs. Because of these, they are affectionately known to Americans as the “Weiner dog” or “hot dog”.
This compact, muscular dog is available in two sizes, and three different coat types, so there is a Dachshund to suit everyone’s tastes.
The standard sized Dachshund reaches 11” at the shoulder, while their miniature companion only grows to 8” tall. You can choose from a short smooth coat, a long flowing coat, or a wire coat. The wire coated dog can be gruff looking, with bushy eyebrows and a beard framing their face.
When it comes to color, the most common shades are a solid red, blue black or brown color. There may be tan markings on the feet, muzzle and chest. Less commonly, Dachshunds can have brindle or dapple coats, where darker areas or stripes contrast nicely with a white or light colored background.
The Dachshund is definitely a big personality in a small body. While they are friendly, outgoing dogs, they can be suspicious with strangers, and take a while to warm to unfamiliar people. They are very clever, and are certainly lively enough to keep their owner on their toes. They are also independent thinkers, which can give the impression of being stubborn, but they are very devoted to their family. A Dachshund will let you know when a stranger is around, and will be quite willing to protect you if necessary.
Dachshunds frequently exhibit behaviors that closely resemble dogs from the terrier group. They love to dig, and if you leave any blankets or clothes on the floor, they will burrow deep inside. They have a very strong prey instinct, and are very likely to chase rodents, birds or other small creatures.
It’s important that the Dachshund is taught good manners from a very young age, and that you make sure you are the pack leader in your home. If this doesn’t happen, your Dachshund can take that position for themselves and they may turn into a snapping, possessive and jealous dog that can make life difficult for you.
The most common health issue that affects these little dogs is damage to the spinal cord associated with inter-vertebral disc disease. Their long body and short legs means that the shock-absorbing discs between the individual bones of their spinal column are at risk of rupture. The ruptured material presses on the spinal column leading to paralysis and extreme pain.
You can help to prevent this problem from developing by keeping your Dachshund lean, and by stopping him from jumping up on things. Exercise that involves jumping or twisting should also be avoided.
Dachshunds are also susceptible to luxating patellas, or loose kneecaps. This condition causes a very characteristic skipping gait, and may lead to arthritis developing in the knee. It can be treated very successfully with surgery.
Unfortunately, the Dachshund has a tendency to gain weight, which is the worst thing they can do. This predisposes to spinal injury, and makes any arthritic conditions more painful. Their owner must keep an eye on their waistline and avoid excessive weight gain.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus is a congenital heart condition that occurs in Dachshunds, and causes abnormal blood flow around the body. It can be fatal, but dogs can also live with this and show no symptoms until young adulthood. Surgery can correct the problem, but open heart surgery on a dog isn’t a routine procedure, and it should be performed by a heart specialist.
Dachshunds are very low maintenance breeds. The short coated Dachshund is particularly easy to care for because they don’t need much grooming at all. The longer haired variety does need regular brushing, and the wire-haired variety will need their wiry hair stripped on a regular basis. In spite of that little bit of necessary hair care, they need very little maintenance. Keep an eye on the hair between their toes to make sure it doesn’t grow too long, because this can be uncomfortable to walk on. Trim it with scissors if and when it becomes necessary.
Their exercise requirements aren’t great either. They tend to exercise themselves, but they are fit little dogs and still enjoy going for a stroll with their family. Avoid any exercise that involves jumping or twisting, as it may injure their back. Your Dachshund will enjoy running after a ball, as this satisfies their urge to hunt.
Don’t forget to train your Dachshund from a very young age. Even though they are small in stature, they are smart, assertive little dogs and need to learn how to behave in your home.
The Dachshund is the ideal choice for people who don’t have a lot of time. They are easy to care for, and don’t need long walks. If you live in an apartment, this is a great breed for you.
Does your home has stairs? If so, then you will need to take care and perhaps give your dog a ramp to use, just to protect their back.
While the Dachshund enjoys the company of children, they are not tolerant of very young children, and it may be best to wait until your family has grown up a little before welcoming this breed into your home.
The Dachshund will delight you and keep you company for up to 15 years.