The Dachshund is a unique product of superb engineering and is recognized as the only AKC breed that hunts both above and below ground. It also comes in more classifications, varieties and colors than any other breed. In America it is bred and shown in two sizes, the standard and the miniature. Miniatures however are not officially a separate classification and at 12 months of age and older they compete in the 11 pound and under class, while Standard Dachshunds compete in the 16-32lb class. The Germans divide Dachshunds into three categories based on the size of the hole it can enter. The first category is the Standard Dachshund (Normalgrossteckel); while the second and third consist of the Miniature Dachshund which is further split into two categories. The Dwarf Dachshund (zwergteckel) that measures approximately 11.8 inches around the chest and the Rabbit Dachshund (kaninchenteckel) measuring approximately 13.8 inches around the chest. All of the above varieties also come in three classifications of coat type, smooth or shorthaired, long haired, and wirehaired and a variety of colors.
The true ancient origins of the Dachshund are still shrouded in a bit of a mystery. Some experts claim they are strictly a German product brought about by the necessity of foresters trying to solve a badger problem. While others claim the Dachshund is a much more ancient Egyptian breed based on the portrayal of a short-legged hunting dog and a hieroglyphic inscription reading "tekal" or "tekar" on a monument of Thutmose III. However the inscription would appear similar in appearance to the modern German word “Teckel” as is used to describe a Dashshund. The literal translation of the hieroglyph leads us to the Egyptian word “tgru” which translates to “fiery”. The similarity between the words is more an erroneous coincidence than evidence as “Teckel” a purely German word, has evolved from the modification of various vowels through history from the original name for a Dachshund of Tachs Krieger as such: Tachs Krieger, Tachskriecher, Tachshunt, Dachshund, Dachsel, Dackel, Tackel, Teckel. In modern times Dachshund and Teckel are synonyms, like mongrel and mutt. These Egyptian theorists also assert that recently discovered mummified remains of dachshund-like dogs found in burial urns of the time by the American University in Cairo lend credence to their hypothesis. However, no DNA evidence has substantiated this claim and of the DNA evidence that has been conducted, it would lead one to the conclusion that the Dachshund is of a recent mixed European origin as published in the Science journal on May 21, 2004 and titled the "Genetic Structure of the Purebred Domestic Dog”.
What we do know is that in Woodcuts by Jost Amman in 1582 a Dachshund like dog is depiced with a terrier pinscher body and docked tail during badger and rabbit hunts. Soon after, in 1671 we also find reference to "beaverdogs (biberhunden), otterdogs (Otterhunden) and the mention of a "badgerhound" (Dachskriecher) with "especially crooked legs." in the first printing of Tantzer's jagdgeheimnissen ("Secrets of the Hunt") between 1678-1684. Although this would lead to the impression that the modern Dachshund was in existence at that time, the accompanying illustrations portray small terrier like dogs, with short, erect ears and a curled pug-like tail.
In other documents during this period we find terms used such as "earthdog" (Erdhiindle), “creeper hound" (Schliefferlin), "holedog" (Lochhiindlein), "badger hound" (Tachsschliefern), and “badger dogs” (Dachshunde), that refer more how a dog was utilized than to a specific breed. These early badger dogs came in either a straight-legged or crook-legged version weighing around 30lbs and were larger than a modern full-size Dachshund which is a descendent of the latter. These early antecedents to the modern Dachshund were not only famous for badger eradication, but were also commonly used for hunting rabbits, foxes, and locating wounded deer. When used as a pack it was not uncommon for them to hunt game as large as a wild boar and as fierce as the wolverine.
In 1700, Holberg’s Georgica Curiosa, describes three types of dogs in the section titled "Badger, Otter, and Beaver dogs" (Dachsen , Otterhund and Biberhunden), in which Holberg states,, "These three varieties have about the same hunting accomplishments, but the first variety is especially suited to go after badgers. The French call these particular dogs Bassets (Bassets), because of their low structure, their long slender body and their low, somewhat turned in little legs . . ., they have various colors, but mostly brown, gray and otter colored, sometimes also black."
The book Neue lustigeundvollstiindige jagdkunst ("New Merry and Complete Huntmanship") published in 1716 uses the following words to describe the likely antecedents of the modern day Dachshund. "The badger is being hunted with little hounds ... As soon as the fox smells these little dogs he sneaks out of the den, with the exception of a vixen with cubs. Nevertheless foxes can sometimes be surprised and caught inside the den by keen little hounds."
In 1719 a book titled Der vollkommene teutsche Jäger (The Complete German Hunter) was written by Johann Friedrich von Flemming, a wildlife hunter and military writer living in the southeastern part of present-day Germany between 1719-1729. In it he provides detailed descriptions of "Tachs Kriecher" and "Tachs Krieger” along with pictures that are without doubt the near equivalent of the modern day Dachshund.
Of the short-and crooked-legged "tachs kriecher", von Fleming writes:
The good God created special wild animals of various kinds that seek to hide their coverts underground; to which end one uses a special breed of small earth-dog (Kleinen Erdkundlein) as a burrower (Schlieffer) or crawler (Kriecher), which-for their better progress--are small, long and slender in body and furnished with low little feet somewhat bent in and serviceable for burrowing.These pygmies, minor, or sappers should properly be called the dwarfs of all other dogs, and are although small, nevertheless exceedingly zealous and seek to perform their master's service to the utmost of their capacity: They crawl, drive, and track their quarry, give tongue and hold their game at bay, with truly such diligence and vigor as ever the other breeds, in order to indicate to the huntsman where the prey dwells. This dwarf breed is usually colored red or blackish with pendent ears almost like a hound--except that, as dwarves, they are smaller.
When they are a year old, it is necessary that one bring them to the badger-burrow and cause an old trained dog to enter it: When the latter has found the prey; lies near to it, and gives tongue, the young dog must hear such and be encouraged thereto. When the badger has been dug out or caught alive in another way, his teeth much be punched out and he must be put into a trench covered over with boards and soil, in order that the little dog be incited to crawl in and encouraged to slay it. So that this young dog might be all the more eager, he should not merely be encouraged by talking to him in a friendly tones but he also should be made to feed on the given bloody corpse. These badger-dogs (Dachshunde) are occasionally used as trailers (Stober-Hunde) after hares or foxes, to hunt them out at such times as they go to ground or to locate and dig out polecats and other vermin.
In works by authors von Parson and von Happe in 1734 and 1751 respectively the following observations are made about Dachshunds, "small, shortlegged, compact and very snappy dogs, which enjoy entering underground passages.", and “some Dachshunds are high and others are low to the ground and that some have straight and others have crooked legs like those of the hounds (Leithunde).”
In 1786 Dobel writes about the aggressive nature required by Dachshunds for hunting badger in his book jagerpraktika ("Hunting Practice") "It happens that if the dogs are not really keen, the badger sits in a chamber in his den and waits until he is discovered. Then he moves away and rests at a different place; in this way all the initial effort has been in vain."
Published in 1793, Histoire Naturelle ("Natural History") by Buffin, describes both straight and crooked legged Dachshunds; their colors are described as black, white, dapple or fawn. The Dachshund is further described as a very snappy breed used to chase badgers out of holes for hunters.
In 1797, another author Jester, describes the personality of a Dachshund in the following way:
"The Dachshund is of all the hunting dogs the smallest and the weakest, but he surpasses them all in courage. He searches for his far superior enemy deep inside the earth and fights him in his own home territory for endless hours, yes, even for days” He goes on to describe the colors available during the time “The uneven dappled and the stockhaired Dachshunds are less common than the black and brown."
Dr. Walther augments this view of their tenacity in 1812 by writing of the Dachshund: "They are snappy, often pugnacious, brave, but often quarrelsome animals, who are tenacious of life. They tend to start fights with any dog, no matter how large he is." He also noted that the Wirehaired Dachshund was generally "not as low legged or crooked as the smooth variety" and that it was a good worker. Traits that are still present in Wirehaired Dachshunds to this day.
The English became quite interested in this little dog and imported it to the British Isles; where the Dachshund began to diverge away from its hunting roots. Those bred in the British Isles became longer, weighed more, the legs got shorter with a considerably larger forechest. The German Teckel breeders opinion of the English breeders was that they rendered the breed incapable of doing the work it was originally bred for.
In 1836 Dr. Reichenbach, for the first time illustrates all the known varieties of Dachshund. The illustrations in his book depict both crooked and straight legged varieties; smooth, longhaired, and wirehaired Dachshunds; the colors brindle, dappled, brown, fawn, or black.
In 1879, the breed characteristics of the Dachshunds were standardized; the German studbook contained 54 entries and it was about this time that the Dachshund started making its debut in America through the immigration of English and German families.
In 1885 the American Kennel Club officially registered dachshunds as a breed, describing the dog as "courageous to the point of rashness.". Dachshunds of this time were now being bred to be smaller as they began to leave their hunting roots behind in favor of a role as a popular household pet.
World War I was a terrible time for the breed in both Europe and America due to propaganda posters of the time, its association with Germany, and strong anti German sentiment which made owning a Dachshund feel like an act of treason. The breed survived WWI and began a recovery just in time to face the same anti German sentiment in WWII. At wars end, the Dachshund Club of America took the initiative and began a successful educational campaign to restore the Dachshunds image, leading to it becoming and remaining one of Americas 10 most popular breeds.
Dachshunds are typically muscular, long-bodied dogs, with short powerful legs spaced far apart on their elongated body and overly sized paddle like feet. The skin is fairly loose and elastic, an adaptation bred into them to protect them from cuts while traversing the burrows of its prey. The chest is deep and provides for increased lung capacity to sustain the Dachshund during periods of prolonged exertion during the hunt. The nose of the Dachshund is long and tapered, which in early breeding was considered to be a positive trait as it enhanced their tracking abilities. The jaws are powerful with a strong scissor like bite. The skull is dome shaped, with well spaced long flap-down ears that prevent dirt and other matter from entering the ear canal. The tail is long in relation to its body, an intentional adaptation said to be dual purpose in that it provides increased visibility of the dog in tall grass, while also acting as a handle for hunters to pull on in the event the dog becomes lodged or otherwise stuck in the burrow of its prey.
The Dachshund is unique in that it has more classifications and varieties than any other breed. In America the breed is shown in two sizes, the standard and miniature. A full-grown standard dachshund should weigh between 16 lb to 32 lb while standing 8 to 9 inches at the withers, while the miniature Dachshund must weigh no more than 11 lb with a height of approximately 6 inches at the withers.
In Germany the Dachshund is divided into three categories based on the size of the hole it can enter. The first category is the Standard Dachshund (Normalgrossteckel); while the second and third consist of the Miniature Dachshund which is further split into two categories. The Dwarf Dachshund (zwergteckel) that measures approximately 11.8 inches around the chest and the Rabbit Dachshund (kaninchenteckel) measuring approximately 13.8 inches around the chest.
In recent years some breeders have begun to breed a size variation unrecognized by the AKC that falls in between the current Standard and Miniature varieties and weighs between 11lb to 16lbs called a “Tweenie". Currently all efforts to have the “Tweenie” recognized have failed and it has become a more localized unofficial term used only by those individuals that own or breed them. Other unofficial Dachshund designations commonly used in marketing the breed include toy, micro-mini and teacup Dachshunds. All of the above varieties also come in three classifications of coat type: smooth or shorthaired, long haired, and wirehaired which is the most common in Germany and the least common in the United States.
The coat of the smooth or Shorthaired Dachshunds should be shiny and smooth, while lying neatly against the body so as to give the dog a slicked appearance with an overall length that generally does not exceed ¾ inch. The hair of the tail should lie in the same direction as that of the body while tapering gradually to a point at the end. The underside of the tail is permitted to have longer bristles that are considered a patch of strong growing hair. Brush tails, completely or semi hairless tails are considered to be a fault. The ears should have short uniform hair covering the outside of their length while not being bald or giving the appearance so as to be leathery.
The coat of a Longhaired Dachshund provides the dog with a sleek and elegant appearance. The glistening, soft, often slightly wavy hair should be longer under the neck and on forechest, the underside of the body, the ears and behind the legs. The coat should not be curly or so thick as to mask type, nor should it be long over the entire body; pronounced parting down the back or short hair on the ears would be considered faults. The tail should be carried gracefully in prolongation to the spine, with the greatest length of hair here forming a flag like appearance.
The Wirehaired Dachshund should possess a uniform, armor like, short, thick, and course outer coat that covers all areas except the jaw, eyebrows, and ears; that lies over a somewhat softer undercoat which is distributed over the entire body and lies evenly distributed between the coarser outer coat. The Wirehaired Dachshunds face is marked by its ever alert, somewhat comical appearance and distinctive facial furnishing of a beard and eyebrows. The hair of the ears should be short, almost smooth but not leathery in appearance, while the overall appearance of the dog should be that it would resemble a Smooth Coated Dachshund when viewed from a distance. Long, curly or wavy hair, or hair the juts out irregularly in all directions are considered faults, as is soft hair present in the outer coat, wherever it may appear on the body. The tail should be thickly haired, while tapering to a point, and without a flag tail which would be a fault.
Dachshunds also come in a wide variety of colors and patterns ranging from a simple solid color, to solid colored with spots or dappled, to single colored with tan points that include any pattern. The Dachshund may also come in “piebald”, a color variation marked by large unpigmented areas complimented by areas of normal pigmentation. Dual colored dogs may be black, chocolate, or fawn with markings of tan or cream that encompasses the eyes, ears, paws, and tail.
There are even sable colored dachshunds in which each single hair of the coat is banded with three colors; generally lighter at the base, red in the middle, and black at the end.
Some of the lighter colored Dachshunds will have amber, light brown, or green eyes; while, the show standard is that the darker the eye color, the better. Dappled Dachshunds may also have multi colored eyes similar to what would be found in the Blue Merle variations of other breeds.
Dachshunds pack a ton of personality into a short stubby frame. Most are playful, loving and devoted pack animals that bond well with the adult members of a family. Dachshunds are known for their tenacity and stubbornness which can make training a bit difficult to say the least. The most notable quote in regards to training a Dachshund comes from E.B White a popular 20th century writer and the author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little while describing his interactions with his Dachshund “Fred”:
"Being the owner of dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot. Someday, if I ever get a chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the dachshund and why he can't be trained and shouldn't be. I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do."
Dachshunds are alert, watchful little dogs; with a propensity to bark at even the slightest of provocations. Their bark is disproportionately loud and crisp in relation to their size; without proper training they are prone to becoming nuisance barkers. Because this behavior is hard to train out of them, patience is a much-needed virtue for Dachshund owners.
Typically aloof and wary of strangers they are known for their loyalty and devotion to their owners. This loyalty and longing to be with their master can lead to problems such as separation anxiety if they are left alone frequently for prolonged periods of time. This may manifest itself in the form of barking, whining, clawing at doors or walls, or chewing on furniture to occupy their mind and relieve stress. Dachshunds in general don't like to go outside in cold or wet weather. As a result many Dachshund owners have difficulties when it comes to housebreaking, with the best advice for success being to remain patient and consistent and if possible have a covered potty area.
The Dachshund is a hunter at heart, with a strong instinct toward digging; the positive aspect of this naturally high prey drive is that Dachshund owners are sure to enjoy endless hours of fetch with small toys or tennis balls, from this lively active little breed. While the negatives are that they can be a bit possessive of toys leading to aggressive behavior towards small children or others that try to separate the Dachshund from its prize. Their strong digging instinct can lead to holes in the yard or the quick destruction of a flower bed; it also increases the likelihood of escape if left unattended as tunneling under a fence in search of new adventures or as a result of separation anxiety would not be difficult or unusual. This hunter’s heart also makes them prone to chasing not just toys but other small animals such as birds, rabbits, squirrels etc.
This is not a breed known for letting its diminutive size impede its sometimes terrier like personality. As such they have no reservations about going toe to toe with a dog many times larger than themselves. Dachshunds that are pampered or over indulged tend to become snappy or extremely obstinate. Dachshunds are proud little dogs that respond best to positive reinforcement and freely given praise and treats. They will resist forcible training methods, to the point of becoming irritable or responding defensively by growling or snapping when handled roughly or pushed too far. Children are often the unexpected recipients of a Dachshunds irritable side as this breed is none-too-fond of being teased and as such adult families or families with older children would be best. Although, well trained and socialized Dachshunds and equally well behaved children will usually get along fine. In families with children, it is imperative that these children are educated as to the breeds personality and propensity for back injuries so as to ensure there is no teasing or rough handling that could result in injury to either party.
A 2008 University of Pennsylvania study of 6,000 dog owners indicated that it was the smaller breeds of dogs that were more likely to be "genetically predisposed towards aggressive behavior". Of these smaller breeds, Dachshunds topped the list as the most aggressive, with nearly 20% having bitten strangers; as well as a high percentage of attacks on other dogs and their owners. It should be noted that small dog attacks are less likely to cause serious injury; as such they were probably under reported.
Ranking 49th in Stanley Coren’s Intelligence of Dogs, this breed is considered to have average working and obedience intelligence.
In general, Miniature Dachshunds will tend to be more active than the larger Standard Dachshunds.
In comparing the unique attributes of each coat types personality it is generally found that:
Grooming requirements would be dependent upon the coat type of the individual Dachshund. Please select the desired type of Dachshund from the list above and then select the relevant coat type you are interested in learning more about.
Like most modern purebred dogs, there are some congenital health problems known to be associated with Dachshunds. Due to the unique skeletal structure of Dachshunds, which includes a long body and spinal column with a short ribcage, they find themselves most at risk for back injuries. Especially Intervertebral Disk Disease; a condition in which the intervertebral disks sitting between the vertebrae of the spine become damaged, which can lead to extreme pain or paralysis. The risk of developing this condition is known to be exacerbated by obesity, jumping, rough handling, or intense exercise, all of which place greater strain on the vertebrae of the spine.
Commonly mistaken for obesity, Dachshunds are also prone to Thyroid related illnesses such as Hypothyroidism and most often Lymphocytic Thyroiditis, also known as Hashimoto’s disease- a condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid.
Other conditions known to affect the breed include:
It is impor tant for potential Dachshund owners to be aware of the health conditions that can affect this breed and to understand that not all Dachshunds will have health issues. The vast majority of Dachshunds with health problems are the result of indiscriminate breeding practices that capitalize on their popularity with no emphasis on the health of the breed as a whole. The best way to limit the possibility of adopting a Dachshund with a propensity for health related issues is ensure that it comes from a reputable, experienced, well-informed, and caring breeder that performs genetic testing of the parents and provides a guarantee and certificate of good health.