Dachshunds are scent hound dog breeds who were bred to hunt badgers and other tunneling animals, rabbits, and foxes. Packs of Dachshunds were even used to trail wild boar. Today their versatility makes them excellent family companions, show dogs, and small-game hunters.
Dog Breed Group:Hound Dogs
Height:8 inches to 9 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:16 to 32 pounds
Life Span:12 to 15 years
• Don’t let the Dachshund fool you. He might be, as legendary literary critic and humorous journalist H. L. Mencken said, “Half a dog high and a dog and a half long,” but this small, drop-eared dog is tough enough to take on a badger. In fact, that’s what he was bred to do and how he got his name (Dachs meaning badger; hund meaning dog).
Dachshunds (pronounced DAKS hund — never dash-hound) come in three varieties: smooth (shorthaired), wirehaired and longhaired. In the United States, Dachshunds are either miniature (11 pounds and under as an adult) or standard (usually between 16 and 32 pounds as an adult). If your Dachshund weighs between 11 and 16 pounds, he’s called a tweenie..
No matter what their size, Dachshunds are a delightful addition to any family, which is why they have ranked near the top of most popular dogs lists since the 1950s. Their cute appearance and lively disposition have inspired many affectionate nicknames for the breed, including wiener dog, hot dog, sausage dog, you can’t help but smile when you look at a confident Dachshund, proudly carrying his long, muscular body on short legs, his elongated head held high with a bold, intelligent look in his eyes. At home, the Dachshund’s playful nature comes out. He loves to be close to you and “help” you do things like tie your shoes. Because of his intelligence, he often has his own ideas about what the rules are when it comes to playtime-and those rules may not be the same as yours or even other breeds of dogs. Dachshunds are known for being lively and enjoy chasing other small animals, birds, and toys. The breed standard — a written description of how the Dachshund should look and act — probably describes their personality best, saying “the Dachshund is clever, lively, and courageous to the point of rashness, persevering in above and below ground work, with all the senses well-developed. Any display of shyness is a serious fault.”
Dachshunds have soulful eyes and complex facial expressions. Their lungs are large for a dog this size and they have a barrel-like chest. Because of these things, Dachshunds have a loud, deep bark that sounds as though it comes from a much larger dog. And they do like to bark, which is something you might consider if you have neighbors who could be annoyed rather than amused by the antics of your brave little Dachshund.
Dachshunds often bond closely with a single person. They may even become jealous of their owner’s attention and can, if not properly trained and socialized, become snappy.
Smooth Dachshunds are the most popular variety in the United States. Their coats are short and shiny and need little grooming. They do, however, need a sweater in the winter if you live in an area with cold weather. Common colors are red, cream, black and tan, black and cream, chocolate and tan, blue and tan, and Isabella (fawn) and tan. Dachshunds also can have patterns in their coats, such as dapple (a mottled coat pattern), brindle, sable, and piebald.
Longhaired Dachshunds have sleek, slightly wavy hair and can be the same colors as the Smooth Dachshund. They should be brushed every day to prevent mats from forming, especially around their elbows and ears. Many believe that the Longhaired Dachshund has a more docile temperament than the Smooth or Wirehair.
Wirehaired Dachshunds have wiry, short, thick, rough coats with bushy eyebrows and a beard. Like Smooth Dachshunds, they often are mischievous. They won’t need a sweater in the winter, but they do need to be brushed regularly to prevent mats from forming. Their coat colors can be the same as the Smooth Dachshund, but the most popular colors in the United States are wild boar (a mixture of black, brown, and gray), black and tan, and various shades of red.
Because of their long backs, they are susceptible to slipped or ruptured (herniated) disks in their backs, which can result in partial or full paralysis.
Although they originally were bred to hunt ferocious badgers and other animals, today’s Dachshunds are ideal family companions. The Dachshund is a versatile companion.