Perhaps the smallest of the hound breeds, the Dachshund is also one of the most easily identified. This breed is known for his short stature and elongated body, as well as his big ears and even bigger spirit. These little dogs may be small but they are full of life and love for their families.
Dachshund Dog Breed Information
AKC Breed Group
Black, Chocolate, Red, Brindle, Merle
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The Dachshund is consistently ranked as one of the top dog breeds in America for his friendly and affectionate nature as well as his low maintenance requirements.
If you are looking for a household companion that doesn’t shed much or require a great deal of exercise, the Dachshund may be right for you.
As an added bonus, these dogs make great watchdogs and they are adaptable to all kinds of living situations.
Fun Facts About the Dachshund
- Journalist and literary critic H.L. Mencken described the Dachshund as “half a dog high and a dog and a half long”.
- The Dachshund is known by many nicknames including wiener dog, Doxie, and Dashie.
- The breed’s short stature was developed on purpose so the dog could chase badgers and other burrowing animals into their nests and flush them out.
Coat and Appearance
The Dachshund is a small-breed dog and may be the smallest of the breeds belonging to the AKC’s Hound Group. These dogs are short in stature but long in body and there are two different sizes. The miniature Dachshund stands just 5 to 6 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs no more than 11 pounds. The standard Dachshund is a little larger, standing 8 to 9 inches tall and weighing 16 to 32 pounds.
Both types have a long, fully muscled trunk with a prominent breastbone and a straight back. The head tapers to the tip of the nose and the eyes are medium-sized, almond-shaped, and dark in color. The skull is slightly arched, as is the muzzle, giving the nose a Roman appearance. The ears are moderate in length and rounded, and set near the top of the head. The legs are short but well-muscled, the gait fluid and smooth to enable the dog to do its work.
Not only does the Dachshund come in two sizes, but it comes in three distinct coat varieties as well – smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired. The smooth coated Dachshund has a short, smooth, and shiny coat that is neither too long nor too thick. All base colors are permissible, though solid colors usually include red and cream while two-colored dogs usually include black, chocolate, gray, fawn, or wild boar with tan or cream-colored markings. Other patterns include dappled (merle), parti-color, brindle, and sable.
The wirehaired Dachshund is covered in a short, thick, and uniformly tight coat with a soft undercoat and harsh outer coat. The coat resembles that of the smooth coated Dachshund from a distance but there are distinct furnishings on the beard and eyebrows. All colors and patterns are allowed, though the most common include black, tan, wild boar, and red. The longhaired Dachshund has a sleek, wavy coat with a long tail. The colors and patterns are similar to the smooth coated Dachshund.
History of the Breed
The exact origins of the Dachshund are unknown but some experts say that the early roots of the breed may go as far back as ancient Egypt. In terms of the modern version of the breed, however, the Dachshund is thought to be a breed of German origin – a combination of German, French, and English hounds and terriers. Early references to the modern breed come from books written in the 18th century and mention “Dachs Kriecher” or “badger crawler” and “Dachs Krieger” or “badger warrior”. Before the 18th century, there were references to hole dogs and badger dogs as well.
Early Dachshunds developed in Germany were larger than the modern standard Dachshund, weighing between 30 and 40 pounds. These dogs came in two varieties – straight-legged or crooked-legged. The modern Dachshund is thought to have descended from the latter of the two. Though most commonly used for exterminating badgers, these dogs were also used to hunt rabbit and fox or to locate wounded deer. They’ve also been known to hunt game in packs.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the Dachshund was known as the Teckel during its development in Germany. Breeders sought to develop a dog with an elongated body and fearless personality that could chase badgers into their holes and fight to the death, if necessary. The original Dachshund was of the smooth type and the longhaired type was likely developed through crosses with spaniels and the wirehaired type through crosses with terriers.
The first standard for the Dachshund breed was written in 1879 and the German Dachshund Club was formed in 1888. The breed first appeared in the United States in 1885 and the American breed club was formed in 1895. Throughout the early 1900s, the breed was extremely popular but the First World War led to dark times – as a German breed, the Dachshund quickly lost favor. After the war ended, breed enthusiasts sought to revive the breed and imported dogs from German. By the 1950s, the breed had regained its former popularity and remains one of the top 10 breeds by AKC registration statistics today.
Temperament and Personality
As small as they are, Dachshunds are full of energy and a zest for life. These little dogs are very affectionate with family and they form close bonds. They are fearless when it comes to doing the things they want to do and they do have a knack for getting into trouble. Many Dachshunds develop a clownish personality and their independent nature makes them difficult to control at times. This breed also has a love for digging and they have voracious appetites. When it comes to children, they have no patience for rough handling but can become amenable to older children or to kids they are raised with.
Because the Dachshund was bred for hunting, you shouldn’t be surprised if he develops an affinity for chasing small animals. When raised with cats, this breed can do okay but they are likely to chase smaller animals. You should also keep in mind that this breed does tend to be a little dog aggressive so think twice before taking your Dachshund to the dog park. Early socialization and training is very important to ensure that this breed develops from a puppy into a well-adjusted, obedient adult.
The Dachshund is a fairly intelligent breed but they do have a bit of an independent nature which often makes them difficult to train. These dogs are also mischievous and they have a penchant for getting into trouble. Positive reinforcement training methods are recommended and you should keep training sessions short and fun so your dog doesn’t get bored and stop paying attention. It is also very important that you maintain a firm, consistent hand in leadership with this breed. Be consistent about which commands you choose and firm in enforcing house rules. Do not punish your dog or yell at him, however, because this could cause him to distrust you.
Not only is obedience training going to be a little tricky for this breed, but the Dachshund may take longer to housetrain than other dogs. Crate training is the best way to housetrain a Dachshund and you should make sure to give him plenty of opportunities to go out so he doesn’t have an accident in the house. If you live in a condo or apartment with limited access to the outdoors, you can train your Dachshund to use puppy pads indoors. Just keep in mind that training your dog to go indoors may increase the risk of him having accidents outside of the puppy pad and, if you decide to train him to go outside later, it may be difficult for him to make the transition.
Though they may be small, Dachshunds are fairly active dogs. This breed was developed for hunting and while they may not have the stamina to chase prey across an open field, they will dive right into an underground den to flush out a badger or another burrowing animal. This breed requires at least one 30-minute walk per day, or you can break it up into 10- or 15-minute sessions. You’ll notice that your dog likes to sniff around and mark his territory, so don’t expect him to move too quickly – there will be lots of stops and starts. To reduce the risk for destructive behavior at home, give your dog plenty of toys and active playtime in addition to his walks. Your Dachshund may also enjoy training for dog sorts such as agility or tracking.
For the most part, the Dachshund sheds a little less than other breeds which reduces the amount of maintenance you have to do for his coat. Regular brushing is still important to remove dead hairs and to distribute the natural oils produced in his skin that keep his coat shiny and soft. You should also keep in mind that there are three distinct coat types for this breed – smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired. The smooth coat is short and easy to care for. The wirehaired coat is also short but has a coarser texture – it needs to be hand-stripped twice a year to remove dead hairs. The longhaired coat needs to be brushed more often to keep it tangle-free. In addition to caring for your dog’s coat, you should trim his nails a few times a month, brush his teeth daily, and clean his ears once a week.
Nutrition and Feeding
The quality of your Dachshund’s diet is extremely important for a number of reasons. For one thing, only a high-quality diet will provide your dog with the nutrients he needs to remain healthy. This breed has a long lifespan of 12 to 15 years but he’ll only achieve that if you keep his body healthy and strong with a nutritious diet. Second, you need to consider that small-breed dogs like this require a lot of energy. Smaller dogs have very fast metabolisms so they may need as many as 40 calories per pound of bodyweight, compared to 30 for the average dog and about 20 for very large dogs.
The best way to meet your dog’s nutritional needs is to choose a high-quality formula designed for small or working breed dogs. These recipes tend to be rich in protein to support your dog’s lean muscle mass with extra fat as a concentrated source of energy (calories). Just be careful to follow the feeding instructions on the package to avoid overfeeding your dog. Your Dachshund is likely to scarf down anything you put in front of him but he is also at a high risk for obesity. A gain of just a pound or two can be significant for a dog this size and obesity greatly increases your dog’s risk for serious diseases that could decrease his lifespan.
Common Health Problems
As a small-breed dog, the Dachshund has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years or more. Like all dogs, this breed is prone to certain genetic health problems that can be reduced through responsible breeding. The most common health problems affecting the breed are musculoskeletal issues like intervertebral disc disease. These dogs are also prone to diabetes, deafness, epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy, Cushing’s disease, and gastric torsion. Here is an overview of each of these conditions:
- Intervertebral Disc Disease – Also known as IVDD, this problem affects the dog’s spine and it can be the result of bad genes, jumping or falling, or too much activity. This condition causes symptoms such as loss of bladder or bowel control, inability to rise onto the hind legs, and rear limb paralysis. Treatments for IVDD range from anti-inflammatory medications to surgical repair.
- Diabetes – A condition characterized by high blood sugar, diabetes is particularly common in Dachshunds that are overweight or obese. This disease can be treated with daily insulin injections but you should also monitor your dog’s diet to prevent spikes in blood sugar.
- Deafness – Though not common in all varieties, deafness is a problem that can occur in double dappled Dachshunds. In many cases, puppies are born deaf.
- Epilepsy – The exact cause for this condition is unknown but it seems to be genetically linked or could be related to a fall or a head injury. In most cases, epilepsy can be controlled with seizure medications.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy – A degenerative eye disease, PRA is characterized by progressive damage to the photoreceptors in the back of the eye and it typically leads to blindness. Though there is no cure for this condition, most dogs adapt well to a loss of sight.
- Cushing’s Disease – Also known as hyperadrenocorticism, Cushing’s disease is characterized by excess production of the stress hormone cortisol. This condition is usually caused by an imbalance in the adrenal or pituitary gland and it may cause excess thirst and increased urination.
- Gastric Torsion – A condition that typically affects large-breed dogs, gastric torsion also affects deep-chested breeds like the Dachshund. This is a condition in which the abdomen fills with air, causing the stomach to twist on its axis and cutting off blood flow. Gastric torsion, or bloat, can quickly become fatal so be on the lookout for signs like distended abdomen, excessive salivation, and retching without throwing up.
As it has already been mentioned, this breed is also prone to obesity so you need to be very careful what and how much you feed your dog. Regular veterinary checkups are also important to catch developing health problems in the early stages and to manage long-term issues.
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