Introduction to the Dachshund

Dachshund means “badger dog” in German and these long, low dogs were originally bred to hunt fierce badgers.

They could dig to go underground into the badger’s lair and many Dachshunds still love to dig today.

Dachshunds come in both standard and miniature sizes and in three coat types (smooth, longhair, and wirehaired).

They are playful and lovable, requiring only moderate exercise. They are able to adapt to most living situations and make a good pet for many people who live in apartments.

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History of the Dachshund

Dachshunds were first bred in Germany around the 1600s to hunt badgers. The word “dachs” means badger and “hund” means dog. There are references in historical records from the 15th through 17th centuries (as well as illustrations) of an elongated type of dog with hound ears and short legs being used to hunt badgers. The dogs could track animals like hounds but they were tenacious like terriers. In the 17th century the name “Dachshund” was applied to the smooth and longhaired dogs. Wirehaired Dachshunds were not added until 1890, probably through crosses with terriers. Early crosses between smooth Dachshunds and the longhaired variety, or between the longhaired dogs and the wirehaired dogs were not successful. However, early crosses between the smooth variety and wirehaired dogs were allowed to help increase the numbers of wirehaired Dachshunds.

While the breed was being developed two different sizes emerged, based on the kind of game being hunted. One type of Dachshund weighed 30-35 pounds and was used to hunt both badger and wild boar. Smaller Dachshunds weighed 16-22 pounds and were used to hunt hare and foxes. Later the breed was bred down in size. The Dachshund was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885, making it one of the earliest breeds in the AKC. The Dachshund Club of America has existed since 1895. Dachshunds have been participating in AKC field trials since 1935 which allows the breed to continue to exercise its hunting abilities.

Today standard Dachshunds weight 16-32 pounds and miniature Dachshunds weigh 11 pounds and under. Regardless of size or coat type, all AKC Dachshunds use the same breed standard and are the same breed.

Dachshund Health Related Issues

You can find more information about Dachshund health issues on the health page of the Dachshund Club of America.

Dachshund breeders are advised to have the following tests done on their dogs before breeding:

If you are considering getting a Dachshund, be sure you talk to the breeder about health issues in the breed, the health of the dogs in their pedigrees, and what kind of health guarantees they provide.

With their long backs, Dachshunds can be prone to spinal problems such as intervertebral disk disease (IVDD). Obesity, injury from jumping, over-exercising, and other things can put additional strain on the spine. It’s estimated that about 25 percent of Dachshunds will have problems with IVDD. Most dogs recover with rest and some type of pain management, whether it is an NSAID given under your vet’s supervision or something stronger. In severe cases a dog may require surgery.

Patellar luxation also occurs in the breed, as it does with many smaller dogs. This is similar to a displaced kneecap in a human. It is momentarily painful and the joint (of the rear leg) can lock into an extended position which causes the dog to hop. When the muscles relax the leg will move back into place. In extreme chronic cases a dog may need surgery to correct the problem but dogs recover quickly.

Brittle bone disease (osteogenesis imperfecta) can also occur in the breed, though it occurs most often in wirehaired Dachshunds. There is a genetic test available that allows breeders to identify dogs that are carriers of the disease.

Breeding dappled Dachshunds together can result in problems such as loss of vision or hearing and related problems. However, this does not always occur.

Other health issues that can occur in Dachshunds include epilepsy, Cushing’s syndrome, granulomatous meningoencephalitis (an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system – cause unknown), thyroid issues, allergies, cataracts, glaucoma, dental problems, progressive retinal atrophy and other eye problems. These are all issues that occur in the general dog population. Research does indicate that Dachshunds appear to be 2.5 times as likely to develop a condition called patent ductus arteriosus which is a congenital heart defect. Dachshunds that are blue, cream or isabella in color (dilute colors) are susceptible to a condition called color dilution alopecia. This is a skin problem in which the dog has hair loss and is very sensitive to the sun.

Dachshund Temperament

Dachshunds are one of the most popular breeds in the United States. They currently occupy a spot in the Top 10 breeds, where they have been for more than 10 years. The breed is also very popular in Europe. Part of the reason for the Dachshund’s popularity has to be its temperament. Dachshunds are playful, clever, lively, and they can be positively fearless – as you would expect from a dog ready to dive into a hole after a badger. Dachshunds can also be somewhat stubborn and they are not the easiest dogs to train. Like many of the hound breeds, Dachshunds tend to be independent thinkers and like to make up their own minds.

Some Dachshunds do not like people they don’t know and they are not always friendly with strangers. Nor do they warm up very much even if you invite someone into your home. It can take some time to convince a Dachshund that a visitor is really worth his time. Dachshunds absolutely, positively need good early socialization from the time they are puppies. Take your Dachshund puppy to puppy pre-school and a good obedience class when he is young. Socialize him by taking him places to meet friendly strangers. Use positive reinforcement with praise and rewards to encourage them to be friendly with people they meet, including children. Dachshunds have not always had the best reputation for being good with children but they can be a good family dog and good with kids if you start at a young age. Supervise your kids when they play with your Dachshund and teach them how to safely interact with a dog. Dachshunds usually get along best with well-behaved children, especially older kids, but they can live comfortably with smaller children if the kids know how to behave around dogs.

Dachshunds can enjoy chasing small pets. They can have a strong prey drive. This means you should be careful about cats and other pets in the household – especially rabbits or rodent pets.

Some Dachshunds are difficult to house train simply because they can be stubborn. Don’t give up. They will learn. If you try to think of the Dachshund as a hunting dog in a small package, you have a good chance of understanding them. They may look like lapdogs but inside beats the heart of a hero, ready to defend you. Just don’t expect him to obey every command.

Dachshunds are devoted and loyal to their people. They are cuddly and affectionate. They do need regular exercise or they can become quite destructive in the home. They also demand attention. If they don’t get enough attention they can whine. If they think you are leaving them alone too much, they can have problems with separation anxiety. Outside, Dachshunds really do love to dig so if you have a backyard, you might discover that your Dachshund loves to dig holes. Give him his own sandbox to dig in and it can help the problem.

Dachshund Grooming

Grooming your Dachshund will depend on the kind of coat he has. Smooth-coated dogs have a short, smooth coat that is easy to care for. Brush them regularly to remove dead, loose hair. Longhaired Dachshunds need to be brushed more often. You can also use a comb or pinbrush on the feathering to keep it free of tangles. You can use a wire slicker brush to brush your wirehaired Dachshund’s coat and remove any loose hair. It will probably need to be professionally trimmed about twice a year. Most Dachshunds do not need to be bathed very often. Bathe about once a month or when your dog gets dirty.

Dachshunds come in lots and lots of different colors and patterns.

No matter which kind of coat your Dachshund has, you will need to check his ears and clean them if necessary. Trim nails regularly. And check your dog’s teeth and brush them often.

Dachshund Fun Facts

  • Dachshunds have had many popular names. They are often called “Weiner dogs” because they look like hotdog weiners. Other names include “Dackel” in Germany and “Teckel” among hunters. They are also called “Doxies.”
  • Many Dachshunds and their owners like to participate in earthdog trials where the dogs go into man-made underground tunnels to find the quarry. The quarry is usually a rat in a cage that is protected at all times so the dog cannot get to it. The purpose of the trials is to test the dog’s instincts and abilities.
  • In western states, Dachshunds have been used to hunt prairie dogs.
  • The Federation Cynologique Internationale recognizes another size of Dachshund that is 8-11 pounds. It is called the kaninchen, or the rabbit size, making it smaller than the miniature Dachshund. In countries that have FCI dog shows, there are so many sizes and coat types for Dachshunds that they have their own group for judging.

Common Dachshund Mixes

One of the most popular Dachshund mixes is the Doxiepoo. It is a cross between a Dachshund and a Poodle. This mix is said to be very smart.

Queen Elizabeth has some Dachshund crosses which have been dubbed “Dorgis.” They are the accidental result of some Buckingham Palace Dachshunds mingling with her Corgis.

  • Basschshund – Dachshund/Basset Hound Mix
  • Bo-Dach – Boston Terrier/Dachshund Mix
  • Cheaglehund – Chihuahua/Dachshund x Beagle Mix
  • Chiweenie – Chihuahua/Dachshund Mix
  • Dach-Griffon – Brussels Griffon/Dachshund Mix
  • Dachsky – Dachshund/Silky Terrier Mix
  • Dameranian – Dachshund/Pomeranian Mix
  • Daug – Pug/Dachshund Mix
  • Dorgi – Dachshund/Pembroke Welsh Corgi Mix
  • Dorkie – Dachshund/Yorkshire Terrier Mix
  • Doxador – Dachshund/Labrador Retriever Mix
  • Doxi-Pekepoo – Pekingese/Poodle x Dachshund Mix
  • Doxie Scot – Scottish Terrier/Dachshund Mix
  • Doxie-Chon – Bichon Frise/Dachshund Mix
  • Doxie-Pin – Miniature Pinscher/Dachshund Mix
  • DoxiePit – Dachshund/Pit Bull Mix
  • Doxiepoo – Dachshund/Poodle Mix
  • Doxle – Beagle/Dachshund Mix
  • Dusky – Siberian Husky/Dachshund Mix
  • Golden Dox – Golden Retriever/Dachshund Mix
  • Jackshund – Dachshund/Jack Russell Terrier Mix
  • Mauxie – Maltese/Dachshund Mix
  • Schweenie – Shih Tzu/Dachshund Mix

Dachshund FAQs

What is a Dachshund’s Life Expectancy?

According to a 2004 breed health survey conducted by the Kennel Club in the UK, the median age at death for Dachshunds was 12 years and 8 months – more than a year longer than other breeds in the survey. Dachshunds are known to be a very long-lived breed. It is not unusual for them to live well into their teens. The most common cause of death in the survey was old age followed by cancer. The oldest dogs in the survey died between 16 and 17 years of age.

Are Dachshunds easy to train?

No, Dachshunds are not particularly easy to train. They are considered to be of average intelligence but they can be stubborn. They don’t particularly want to please their owners. Perhaps they don’t see the value of training. But training and socialization are important for Dachshunds. Otherwise they can behave very badly and be quite spoiled. They may even growl and snap at people if you don’t get some training started from a young age.

Do Dachshunds shed a lot of hair?

No, Dachshunds are not heavy shedders. However, they can have a strong doggy odor, especially if they get wet.

Do Dachshunds make good apartment pets?

Yes, Dachshunds usually make very good apartment pets. They are small, usually quiet, and they only require moderate exercise. You will occasionally find a Dachshund who complains by whining or barking at something, but most of them are relatively quiet at home.

Are Dachshunds good with Children?

If you raise a Dachshund with children and teach the children how to properly interact with a dog, then a Dachshund is good with children. However, not all Dachshunds are good with kids. If you bring loud kids to your home who have no idea how to play with a dog, or who handle a dog roughly – or if you bring home a rescue Dachshund who has never been around kids before – you are likely to have problems.

Remember that adults should always supervise children when they play with a dog. Accidents can happen very fast.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a freelance writer and a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine, Dog News. She is the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Adoptashelter.com award-winner for 2013. Additionally, Carlotta is the author of Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Health and Happy, as well as other books about pets. She is a guest writer for numerous website and blogs and a frequent pet food reviewer.

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  • Had Barney mini wire haired daxie from 8 weeks. He is very lively and loves peoples BUT every now and again for no apparant reason he snarls and snaps at me (only me) and has drawn blood. Have had daxies before but never mini. Nearly gave up on him as trust has been lost although he follows me everywhere and loves to sit on my lap, its just the snapping that worries me. He will be 3 in July.

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