Dachshund: Breed Facts & Temperament
The Dachshund was originally bred to scent, chase, and flush out badgers and other burrowing animals, and the smaller-sized breed of the dog was bred to hunt rabbits. In recent years, the Dachshund has been used to track down wounded animals in the wild, such as deer and prairie dogs. This sausage-dog originated from Germany and became a popular breed to own after royal courts in Europe fell in love with the dog and soon began to breed them for themselves. Queen Victoria owned a Dachshund, creating a trend for those below her, demanding to also own a pint-sized dog.
The Dachshund has been traditionally viewed as a symbol of Germany, due to the popularized ownership of them in that country. This symbolism became an issue in World War I and World War II when people began using art of Dachshunds as a way of representing the country in a negative light. People began seeing the dogs themselves as bad or negative because of the association, which created a stigma around the breed. Dog owners that owned Dachshunds were adopting them out to others or kicking them out of their house in fear of also being seen in society as “bad” for owning them. However, shortly after the World Wars, people took a liking to the breed again and even made them the first mascot in the 1972 Summer Olympics.
Dachshunds, like Greyhounds, also have a long history of being racing dogs when they’re not being used for hunting small animals. These small dogs have been known to participate in Dachshund races, such as the Wiener Nationals, which they have been participating in for 23 years. However, people participating in these events have always took issue to Dachshunds racing at the Wiener Nationals, as they feel they take the spotlight off the Greyhound breed. The dogs continue to race in these worldwide events and are considered a multi-talented breed because of it.
Since the Dachshunds are such multi-faceted dogs, they have become one of the most popular dogs to own in history. They rank 13th in the American Kennel Club statistics, which means a lot of Americans seem to love their wiener-dogs! The reason for this may be that they are the perfect size for living in small homes or apartments, and are generally more of a quiet breed. People take to their Dachshunds so much that they even attend regularly organized Dachshund meet-ups worldwide, just to bring them together.
Who Are The Parents?
When Dachshunds are not purebred (like they can be when you buy them at an animal shelter or from a friend), they can be several breeds mixed into a single, small dog.
Some of the more common breeds that breed with Dachshunds are Beagles (a short, loud dog), Chihuahuas (a small, territorial dog), a Poodle (a tall, curly-haired dog), or a Pug (a short-nosed, rounded dog). To be sure which one is mixed with your Dachshund, you can consult a veterinarian, who can make an educated guess. Otherwise, you can have several DNA tests done, either online or through your local vet clinic. They will take blood samples from your Dachshund-mix and return them to you within a couple weeks, so you can find out if your sausage-dog is purebred or mixed with another adorable canine breed.
If you’re looking to have a 100% purebred Dachshund to compete in dog shows, it is best to seek out a breeder who is credited in the dog breeder community or who has been certified by the American Kennel Club or UK Kennel club. Otherwise, you are risking your chance at owning a dog that may not be as good at hunting, racing, or dog shows (if you’re purchasing it for those any of those reasons).
If you’re considering owning a Dachshund and want to make a fully educated decision, here are 10 facts on the breed that will help you understand those small dogs a bit more:
- Dachshunds come in two different sizes – standard and mini. The standard ones can be up to 35 pounds and are strong enough to hunt a medium-sized boar. The mini ones can be up to 11 pounds and safely hunt and carry a small rabbit, if used for hunting. Dachshunds are still used for hunting to this day, particularly in royal courts across Europe in public hunting events. Not all Dachshunds are prepared for hunting, however – you will need to find a breeder that breeds them specifically for their hunting strengths.
- The Dachshund is the most common breed to become the World’s Oldest Living Dog. They typically live 12-15 years, and have been documented 23 times in the Guinness World Records book as the world’s oldest dogs. Some examples of this are a Dachshund that lived 21 years who was named Chanel, and a Dachshund-Terrier mix that lived 20 years who was named Otto. These dogs are known to be owned by older people, as they are small and will live with them through to their elderly years due to their long life span.
- Dachshunds have three different kinds of coats, depending on the type and size of the breed. They can have smooth, wirehaired, or longhaired coats. Originally, when they were first bred, Dachshunds all had smooth coats but had eventually been bred with other sizes of the breed and with other types of dogs, so now there are 3 kinds of coats. The most common coat you will find on a Dachshund is the smooth coat, but that is usually when you are buying one purebred and not from an animal shelter.
- Dachshunds have been used to test cloning in dogs, and became the first breed that was successfully cloned in Britain. Since then, people have considered using more smaller breeds for future cloning in other countries. The originally cloned Dachshund was cloned to look like an older Dachshund named Winnie, after her owner won a contest to have her dog cloned. This procedure would’ve otherwise cost $60,000 for the cloning. If you want your Dachshund cloned to look like your first one, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.
- Though Dachshunds are often referred to as the “sausage-dog”, the term “hotdog” was named after the dogs themselves. This was originally started by a dark comic created during World War I (when society was suffering from poverty) about feeding dogs to school children for lunch. The comic made a joke about serving “hot dogs” – which were drawn as Dachshunds in bread – and thus, the name was born. People to this day refer to these dogs as looking like sausages and even put them in hotdog Halloween costumes. If only they knew what they were referencing!
- Dachshunds are known to be a favourite to draw or paint by artists worldwide. The most famous creations done to represent these dogs were created by Andy Warhol, who had a Dachshund that he loved and publicly treasured. He could often be seen bringing his dog to interviews and allowing the dog to “answer” questions he didn’t like. Warhol made several art creations based on his dog, and Dachshund owners have raised the price of these pieces over time by keeping them hidden in their homes. David Hockney (another artist) created 45 oil paintings and a whole book based on his art of his two Dachshunds, Stanley and Boodgie. It’s not known why the dog is so well-represented in art, but they are certainly a common symbol.
- If you’re considering what colour Dachshund you want to own – you have plenty of options to choose from. Dachshunds (unless specifically purebred) come in 15 different and unique colours, and 6 marking combinations. Some of these colours include: blue & cream, black & tan, blue & tan, chocolate & cream, fawn & tan, and cream & fawn. The 6 marking combinations are dapple, brindle, sable, brindle piebald, piebald, and double piebald. Depending on which colours and marking combinations you’re looking for, you certainly have a lot to decide on. Otherwise, colour and markings don’t make any difference on the behaviour of the dog – so you can really choose any one of them!
- Be careful not to overfeed your Dachshund! The breed has a reputation for becoming easily obese if their owner does not watch how much food and how many treats are given to them. Dachshunds are not a fussy dog type and will eat anything that is presented to them. Unfortunately, this can cause them to be quickly overweight and significantly shorten their lifespan. Even if a Dachshund becomes slightly overweight, it can cause back and joint issues and possibly even fatality during a short life span. It is best to feed your Dachshund the recommended amount from your local vet clinic, and keep treats or human food to a minimum. The last thing you want is an unhealthy sausage-dog!
- There is a “middle” breed of Dachshunds that some people forget exist. It doesn’t fit in the standard or mini size of Dachshund and is otherwise called a “Doxie.” They can be 12-18 pounds in weight and have also been used to exclusively hunt rabbits, just like the miniature size. Those who own Doxies proudly tout them, as it is considered a “special” kind of Dachshund that does not have to bought purebred. Doxies are also the most common type of Dachshund to be owned by the previously mentioned dog-loving artists (especially Andy Warhol, who owned a Doxie).
- Dachshunds have a reputation of being a highly aggressive and protective dog. Due to their origins, Dachshunds are quick and willing to attack prey that are unwanted (or possibly even wanted!) by their owners. A study in 2008 done by Applied Animal Behaviour Science suggested that the Dachshund was close to ranking one of the top 3 most aggressive dog breeds towards both humans and other dogs. This does not have to be a trait in your Dachshund; if your Dachshund is aggressive from the puppy stage, it can easily be trained out by yourself or a dog trainer.
Things You Should Know
Due to their nature to want to hunt small dogs and continually keep moving without worrying about those around them, Dachshunds can be tricky to train. They can struggle to learn not to chase after your family cat or small child, so this is important to understand when training your Dachshund. While it is still in the training stage, it may be best to keep it away from other small animals and children. The key to training them quickly during this time is to keep training to a maximum of 5 minutes at a time and only 2-3 times a day. Using small bits of food to train them is best, as that’s how they will be willing to learn. It’s also important to know that training them as a puppy, rather than as an adult, is the best way to ensure lifelong understanding.
As mentioned, Dachshunds have an easy tendency to become obese and will not stop at anything to eat the food you have. To curb this, you should feed your Dachshund only 1 cup of dog food per day and minimum treats, if using them for training purposes. This will allow your Dachshund to stay healthy and live out it’s long life span. Be sure to use a measuring cup to measure out your Dachshund’s food so that you are not overfeeding it. Also, as Dachshunds love to take direction and feel as though they are in control, create a regular feeding schedule so that your Dachshund can alert you when it is time for it’s feeding. Dachshunds do best with schedules and routines (like people).
Making sure your Dachshund is well-groomed is key to keeping it’s health at top form to live out a long life. The best grooming can be done by a dog groomer, but if you wish to keep on top of it yourself, there are 3 things you can do to groom your sausage-dog effectively. The first thing to do is bathe it weekly or bi-weekly. This will keep away any ticks or fleas that are attracted to your dog’s size. Be sure to use dog shampoo and cleaner, as humans have a different PH than dogs, so human shampoos and conditioners can destroy the PH balance of the bodies of their dogs. The second thing is to cut their nails frequently so that they don’t trip along the ground. You can easily hurt your dog while cutting it’s nails, so ask a vet where to stop cutting along a dog’s nails. The third thing is to inspect their feet and toes for any damage, insects, or shards of material sticking into their feet. This small act of grooming makes walks and playing more comfortable for them.
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Other than watching out for obesity, Dachshunds are definitely prone to some other serious health issues. Some of these issues include intervertebral disk disease, Von Willebrand’s disease, and Cushings disease. These issues deal with spinal, bleeding, and hormonal problems. None of these issues can be prevented, but it is important to report any strange behaviour that your Dachshund is displaying to your veterinarian to deal with early symptoms. Your dog may need to go on medications and cause medical fees, which is always a consideration when owning an animal. To keep your Dachshund at top health, keep it clean, fed, and exercised regularly and at the appropriate amount.
Due to their independent nature and desire to hunt, Dachshunds can be incredibly difficult and stubborn when trying to manage them. They will try to be dominant over their owner, which can cause canine aggression and may accidentally lead to a dog being put down at a young age. However, when aggression and dominance is dealt with promptly by the owner, Dachshunds can be loving and playful family dogs. A popular game to play with Dachshunds is “fetch”, but the breed is known for not returning the toy after it has been initially thrown. Most Dachshund owners look on this trait with love, rather than annoyance.
Though their history has bred them to be ultra-active and quick to bite into small animals, Dachshunds still make wonderful domesticated pets to this day. If you’re interested in getting to know even more about the breed, it’s a good idea to look into local groups and organizations that meetup to talk about their Dachshunds. This is a great opportunity to get advice regarding the puppy stage, training, and feeding. You may also gain some insight on some of the previously mentioned health issues and how best to handle that if it happens.
Dachshunds – while they look like sausages and have even been credited as the reason “hotdog” exists – are more than how they look. They make for wonderful companions and would be a great addition your family home. If you have an elderly friend or family member who could use the perfect pal to wake up to, you could recommend adopting a Dachshund to have as a lifelong buddy.