About the Dachshund
The word “icon” is terribly overworked, but the Dachshund—with his unmistakable long-backed body, little legs, and big personality—is truly an icon of purebred dogdom. Dachshunds can be standard-sized (usually 16 to 32 pounds) or miniature (11 pounds or under), and come in one of three coat types: smooth, wirehaired, or longhaired.
Dachshunds aren’t built for distance running, leaping, or strenuous swimming, but otherwise these tireless hounds are game for anything. Smart and vigilant, with a big-dog bark, they make fine watchdogs. Bred to be an independent hunter of dangerous prey, they can be brave to the point of rashness, and a bit stubborn, but their endearing nature and unique look has won millions of hearts the world over.
- Temperament: Friendly, Curious, Spunky
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 12 of 195
- Height: 8-9 inches (standard), 5-6 inches (miniature)
- Weight: 16-32 pounds (standard), 11 pounds & under (miniature)
- Life Expectancy: 12-16 years
- Group: Hound Group
“Dachshund” is a German word meaning “badger dog,” and the breed’s German history goes back some 600 years. And, as the breed name suggests, the Dachshund was developed to enthusiastically dig his way into a badger den and dispatch its occupant. The Dachshund’s long, low body was custom-made for this dirty subterranean work.
For a dog of any size, a badger is a formidable adversary, weighing anywhere from 25 to 40 pounds, with razor-sharp teeth and claws. The cleverness, courage, perseverance, and strength that are hallmarks of today’s Dachshund were first bred into his long-ago ancestors to best equip them for battling a deadly foe. The little dog’s surprisingly loud, houndy bark is also a throwback to his working roots: It allowed the Dachshund’s above-ground human hunting partner to mark his hound’s underground location.
In addition to the breed’s short, smooth coat, selective breeding produced types with wire coats for work in thorny brier patches, and long coats for cold climates. Dachshunds of various sizes were bred to work on different kinds of quarry. Packs of Dachshunds, according to breed authorities, were often used on wild boar. By the late 1800s, the process of standardizing the breed according to size, coat, and color varieties was well underway.
The Dachshund has long been a national symbol of Germany, so closely associated with the fatherland that during World War I American fanciers took to calling them Liberty Hounds due to anti-German sentiment. Admitted to the AKC Stud Book in 1885, their popularity in America was immediate and enduring.
Care and Training
It is extremely important that a Dachshund not be allowed to become overweight. This is not only because of general health reasons, but also to avoid strain to the Dachshund’s long back, which can lead to slipped or ruptured (herniated) discs. Ignore the pleading eyes, and give only the recommended amount given by the manufacturer of the quality dog food of your choice. Give table scraps very sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Remember that the Dachshund’s nose can get him into trouble, and always keep food well out of his reach.
Many owners think that because they are so small, Dachshunds don’t require more exercise than just running around the house. However, they do need regular exercise not only to stay fit, but also to build strong muscles to support and protect their back. Two walks every day of moderate length should be sufficient. To avoid injury, never allow your Dachshund to run up and down stairs or jump on or off furniture. Because they are very social, Dachshunds don’t do well as outdoor dogs—they want to be with their humans.