The Dachshund, also known as Teckel, Dackel, Badger and Wiener dog, is well recognized for the breeds’ distinct characteristics. The dachshund has a longer nose, lose skin, deep chest, long body with short legs and large paddle-shaped paws.
This highly popular breed comes in a multitude of sizes, coat colors and coat lengths, with a variety for just about anyone. They are the smallest hunting breed with a big heart and bark. Although they may be small, the dachshund will make a great watchdog.
The dachshund makes an idea candidate for apartment living based on their size and exercise requirements. They have a tendency to adapt well to a multitude of living styles and arrangements. The dachshund is well known for loyalty, intelligence, potential for weight gain, great with kids, and tendency to bark. They can be stubborn and are not the best for training ability, willingness towards other pets, and ease of grooming for the long and wirehaired coats. The dachshund may not be the best in cold weather and can present some concern for health issues if not properly cared for. Overall, this strong, loyal and playful breed is sure to warm the hearts of their owner and family proving much love and entertainment.
This breed has been dated back as early as the 15th century. In Germany, the dachshund was developed through a series of breeding pinchers to bassets, then spaniels to wire hair terriers. Breeders were looking for traits of fearlessness and a small frame to pursue main quarry above and below the ground. For this purpose, the dachshund obtained its name as a ‘badger dog’ (‘Dachs’, badger; ‘hund’, hound or dog).
This breed is available in two sizes, standard and miniature. The standard weighs in between 16 and 32 pounds as an adult and stands 8-9 inches tall at the shoulder. Miniatures are naturally smaller, weighing than 11 pounds and standing 5-7 inches at the shoulder. Standard dachshunds were used for larger game like badgers and fox, where miniatures were focused on smaller game like rabbits.
Coat & Color
Dachshunds have three coat varieties; wirehaired, smooth, and long. Their coat color can vary immensely from solids of red or cream, then mixtures of black and cream, black and tan, blue and cream, blue and tan, chocolate and cream, chocolate and tan, fawn (Isabella) and cream, fawn (Isabella) and tan, wheaten, wild boar, black, chocolate and fawn. Along with these colors, they also recognize 6 additional markings or patterns including brindle, dapple, sable, brindle piebald, double dapple, and piebald. The genetics that impact the coat color also play a role in eye color. Lighter colored dachshunds tend to have lighter eye colors such as gray, hazel, green or even blue when compared to the standard brown. Although rare, the double-dapple colorations can even result in eyes of two different colorations.
Dog Breed Group
Dachshunds belong to the scent hound breeding group. These breeds are hunting dogs that primarily use scent to track rather than sight. Dachshunds have an acutely sensitive nose, even days after trails have been traveled, which is a characteristic of the scent hound breed group. With a low, elongated body, and short legs this breed is the smallest hunting breed that is designed to flush, chase and hunt any burrow-dwelling animal and even track wounded game.
Purebred dog organizations, like the American Kennel Club (AKC) will mimic these natural instincts and hold field trials, conformation shows and other events highlighting the multitude of breed characteristics.
It is a general rule of thumb that smaller dogs live longer than larger breeds. The dachshund follows these guidelines with a long lifespan of 14-17 years with good care. The dachshund is prone to a number of health conditions, but these can be avoided through proper nutrition and exercise. One major factor affecting life expectancy is obesity. The additional weight places strain on joints and the long spinal column of the breed, which could lead to unrepairable damage.
Despite the fact that dachshunds were originally bred to be ferocious and fearless hunters, the variety of dachshunds make an ideal hunter for the field, a companion for the family, or even the best of group in the show ring. The breed still maintains a proud and fearless personality with a fun and lively disposition. They enjoy digging in covers and pretend their toys are prey. Their eyes often tell a story into their soul as they proudly hold their head high with their loving and entertaining facial expressions. For these reason, they have remained at the top of the list in popularity among all breeds.
Dachshunds are independent by nature, with their intelligence ranking on the higher end of the spectrum. These traits can yield to the point of stubbornness during training so it is crucial to be firm, consistent and patient. Since they were bred to be tenacious, dachshunds still enjoy the hunt of chasing smaller game, digging holes, and be persistent until they get what they want. For these reasons, kennel training is recommended for the dachshund.
True to the stereotype of a smaller dog, the dachshund has a tendency to act much larger than they are. Be mindful, the dachshund can cause problems with excessive barking and may be difficult to potty train. Early training is crucial in order to avoid these negative behaviors. Without early exposure, small breeds like the dachshund can be dominant or possessive of food and toys, ill-tempered with children, strangers, or other dogs.
Early selection can make a difference as well and when purchasing a puppy, it is important to keep a few important selection criteria for this breed. Consider your personality and family lifestyle prior to choosing a puppy. If you are more reserved and less active, the first puppy that bites at your shoes may not be the right fit for you. On the extreme, it is not always possible to convert an introvert puppy into a strong and outgoing one. Once you find the puppy that seems to fit your personality, ask to see the puppy away from the littermates. After all, this is how they will be at your house and a bold puppy may not feel as strong without the extra encouragement.
Children and Other Pets
The breed is a very loyal companion, but can be unforthcoming to strangers or pets they are not used to. Don’t be surprised if your little dachshund stands tall and challenges a dog twice his size or greater. When introduced young, dachshunds can make a wonderful family dog and interacts well with children and other pets. Supervision is recommended as dachshunds tend to be possessive of their toys and may nip at young children or other animals. Dachshunds do have a strong prey drive and could chase or use their hunting instincts with smaller animals and children. They must be handled and played with care as their long back is prone to injury. Small children or large dogs could potentially cause unintended injury during play.
Optimal nutrition begins with the mother while the puppies are still within the womb. Once born, the mother will still need additional nutrients through food to help the puppies meet their nutritional requirements. Around 6-8 weeks of age, the puppies are typically weaned and offered solid foods. Young puppies need a diet high in protein, carbohydrates and fat. Pet food companies provide a small breed kibble or canned food that is tailored to smaller kibble and proportion size to better suit the smaller breeds. Although dachshunds are a small breed, they act like they have a large stomach and love to eat.
The transition from puppy to adult food generally takes place around a year of age. Adult dachshunds recommended daily amount for food is anywhere between a ½ – 1 ½ cups of dry kibble a day split between two feedings, morning and evening. Avoid feeding your dachshund any table scraps as this leads to poor habits and may cause nutritional imbalances. Each individual dog can differ greatly, so it is important to adjust your pet’s food intake and activity level accordingly. If your dachshund competes in field trials with more than 2 hours of constant exercise, then his requirements will be greater than a sedentary adult that walks fifteen minutes a day. This is easily monitored by regularly weighing your pet to monitor their body condition in proportion to how much food they are consuming. It is also important to adjust food types based on any allergies and food preferences. As your dog ages, so does their nutritional requirements. This transition to the senior status begins around 7-9 years of age. In general, older dogs may have special needs due to joint health, a slower metabolism, and less active.
When feeding your dachshund, do not allow them to sit up and beg for food. Always aim to keep their back horizontal to prevent injury.
Dachshunds are prone to obesity due to their love of food. An exercise program is a great way to deter this excess weight gain. By nature, this breed is very active and loves to flush, chase and hunt. It is difficult to pinpoint an amount of exercise for the breed. The age, size, and overall health of the animal must be considered when determining the adequate exercise. If your dachshund is performing field trials, then they will need conditioned with longer bouts of exercise. The regular household pet does not need this rigorous exercise routine, but rather some active play time and consistent walks a couple times a day.
Determining the specific amount of exercise needed for your pet can be measured by a number of factors. If your dog has had behavioral problems out of boredom or is weighing more than the recommended amount, then increase the amount of exercise slowly to counteract these ailments. If your dog is obese and it is a danger to have them perform certain exercises, a great outlet is to have them swim in a pool with supervision and a life jacket.
The short-smooth coat dachshund requires the least amount of maintenance including minimal brushings with an occasional bath. Wirehaired dachshunds require additional brushings when compared to the short with a complete stripping of their coat a couple times a year for optimal appearance. The long-haired coat variety requires the most attention as regular brushings and baths helps prevent mats forming in the coat. It is also recommended to blow dry the coat to prevent for optimal appearance. In all cases, the breed has longer, droopy ears from their distant basset relatives. Special attention is required as their ears can be prone to fungus, bacteria, and even mites.
In general, the dachshund is a healthy breed. However, there are a few ailments that the dachshund can be prone to. It is worth mentioning that these can be influenced by a number of factors from genetics to environmental influences.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is one of the more common diseases when associated with the breed with a short rib cage and long spinal column. IVDD may be due to genetics, obesity, or various physical activities like jumping or falling off surfaces. Common signs for IVDD are signs of paralysis or loss in control of bowels. Treatment for this disease includes crate confinement with anti-inflammatory medications or even surgery.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a degenerative disorder within the retina. This disease is predisposed to cause death of the rod cells within the retina, resulting in cloudy eyes and ultimately leading to blindness. The good news is, PRA can be detected early by owners observing night blindness and dilated pupils. Dachshunds are well in-tune with their senses and can compensate with their others if they lose eyesight.
Canine Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is not as common in healthy dachshunds, but more frequently seen due the predisposition of this breed to become overweight. Excessive thirst, urination and loss in appetite are a few warning signs for this disease. Just as in humans, diabetes can be managed with daily insulin injections in combination with diet and exercise.
Epilepsy is another disease that dachshunds are prone to, which could be due to genetics. If your dog presents symptoms of confusion, unsteadiness or severe shaking then contact a veterinarian immediately. There could be a multitude of causes for seizures, but if epilepsy is the diagnoses then it may be able to be controlled with medication.
The short and long-hair dachshund physical characteristics make the breed easy to recognize, but the wire-hair can be more difficult to distinguish. Since the dachshund was originally derived from the pinchers to bassets, then spaniels to wire hair terriers, each of these breeds can slightly resemble one of the many varieties of dachshund. The resemblance is apparent when reviewing this picture of a black and tan wire hair terrier.
The purebred dachshunds are undoubtingly a popular breed as a stand-alone. More and more, cross-breeding or designer dogs have gained popularity across all breeds. The attractive and loyal personality and unmistakable appearance of the dachshund make the breed a prime candidate for crosses. More popular crosses are like the Dorkie (dachshund X Yorkshire Terrier) or a Docker as seen in the picture to the right, which is a cross between a dachshund and cocker spaniel.