The Dachshund is a German hound with a very long body and short little legs. The standard size was bred to scent, chase, and flush burrowing animals, while the miniature was bred for hunting rabbits. The breed is often called a wiener dog, hot dog, or sausage dog. Within its country of origin, Germany, it is known as the Dackel or Teckel.
The breed has three varieties that are chiefly distinguished by their sizes. A standard Dachshund weighs 16 to 28 pounds, while the miniature weighs less than 11 pounds. The kaninchen, specifically bred to hunt rabbits, weighs 8 to 10 pounds.
The coat of the Dachshund can come in a variety of colors. The predominant two are red and black-and-tan. Other colors include: cream, blue, chocolate brown, wild boar, red boar, fawn, brindle, and piebald. Even the tones of the colors have a range, and often they have black hairs peppered in with the other color, called a “stag” by enthusiasts. The lighter-colored dogs often have green or blue eyes instead of the typical brown. Double-dappled Dachshunds can have one blue and one brown eye.
There are also 3 varieties of coat in Dachshunds. The “standard” coat is the smooth coat, or the short hair. The other varieties are long coat and wire-haired. Wire-haired is the least common type, and is sometimes not recognizable as a Dachshund.
The Dachshund’s recognizably large flap-down ears were purposefully bred into the lineage. They protect the breed’s ear canal from grass seeds and dirt. The curved tail of the breed was also deliberate; it is used for visibility in tall grass as well as for an owner to grab and pull on if a Dachshund becomes stuck while chasing a burrowing creature.
There are theories that state that the Dachshund’s ancestry goes back to Ancient Egypt because of particular hieroglyphs. The modern version of the Dachshund includes elements of English, French, and German terriers and hounds. The first written mention of the breed was in the early 1700s. The original Dachshunds were very large, weighing 30 to 40 pounds and had one of two types of legs, straight or crooked. The modern day version is descended from the crook-legged variety. The breed was introduced in the U.S. in the late 1800s.
Despite their heritage ranging from various countries across Europe, Germany has traditionally been credited with its heritage. Due to this connection, the Dachshund was the mascot for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
According to the AKC the Dachshund ranks as the 6th most popular pet in the United States. The breed is playful and stubborn. The Dachshund makes an excellent pet but can be difficult to train. They make excellent watchdogs due to their loud bark. The breed tends to dig, due to its instincts, as well as chase small animals. The breed is very loyal; it loves its owners so much that it is prone to a high degree of separation anxiety. It may whine until it is no longer alone, or chew objects around the house to relieve the stress of solitude. The Dachshund may not be the pet of choice for everyone. Its temperament can vary from dog to dog. Some do not like strangers, and many are not good with children. The breed requires a caring, understanding owner, willing to train and exercise it properly. Many owners train their dogs for earthdog trials or Dachshund racing.
Several health problems can occur in the breed. A major concern for the Dachshund is spinal problems, especially intervertebral disk disease due to their long spinal column. Because of the potential for problems, a Dachshund’s weight must be watched closely, as well as any activity that may cause damage to the back, such as holding it incorrectly or letting it jump from furniture or run on stairs.
The breed is also prone to patellar luxation, hereditary epilepsy, dental issues, Cushing’s disease, thyroid problems, allergies, and a variety of eye conditions.