The Dachshund Dog Breed
Dachshunds (pronounced “DAKS hund”) are a dog breed with three variants: longhaired, smooth, and wirehaired. These little scent hound dogs are one of the most versatile breeds today, growing from their heritage as a hunting dog to becoming a family pet. Don’t let these miniature dogs fool you. Their bite can be just as bad as their bark.
You probably know dachshunds by another name – either ‘sausage dog’ or ‘wiener dog’ – depending on what side of the pond you’re from. If you’re looking for a small dog that can adapt to your changing lifestyle, a dachshund might be the choice for you. These dogs have been one of the most popular family pets since the 1950s – and for good reason!
The breed originated in Germany and was commonly seen in royal courts across Europe, being a favourite of Queen Victoria. Other famous dachshund owners include Kaiser Wilhelm II, Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, JFK, Audrey Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor.
Our first record of the breed is in the 15th century, although they may date farther back as badger dogs. There’s much debate over the exact origins of dachshunds, with various Kennel Clubs giving out contradicting information. Research even suggests that these miniature dogs may actually originate from Ancient Egypt due to several engravings of short-legged hunting dogs and the discovery of similar mummified dogs.
Dachshund means ‘badger dog’ in German, deriving from the words ‘dachs’ and ‘hund’. They were bred to hunt badgers and rabbits and to locate deer, wild boar, and wolverine. The original dachshunds were larger, weighing up to 40 pounds, with a straight leg and crook-leg variant.
It’s thought that current dachshunds were bred from dwarf variants of hunting hounds through selective breeding to reach the desired miniature size. The breed has since evolved into its smaller size with straight legs.
Dachshunds are one of the most popular German dogs, with their popularity dipping after World War II before quickly making a comeback. Did you know that a dachshund called Waldi was named the official mascot of the 1972 Olympics?
Size - Small
Height - 7 to 12 inches
Weight - 16 to 32 pounds
Color - Red, black, tan, and multicolored
H.L. Mencken famously described a dachshund as “a half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long”, which is why you’ll often hear them referred to as being “two dogs long”.
The most distinctive feature about a dachshund is its barrel-like chest, which accommodates its large lungs. It’s this structure that produces the deeper bark that makes it seem like your dachshund is larger than life. Their flap-down ears and curved tail are other key characteristics that make them stand out against other miniature dogs. A dachshund’s paws are disproportionately large for the size of its body and have a paddle shape to help with digging.
Dachshunds take their colouring from their parents – with red, black, and tan being the most popular coat colors. A red dachshund can often appear as though it has a black and tan coat from far away.
The weight and size of dachshunds vary, like other small dog breeds. Different countries have their own way of categorizing this breed. The most common way of categorizing dachshunds is with the American method. If your dachshund is 11 pounds or under as an adult, they’re categorized as a miniature. We consider dachshunds up to 16 pounds to be a ‘tweenie’, while 16 pounds to 32 pounds will put your dachshund in the standard category as an adult.
A standard dachshund stands at around 8 to 9 inches, while their miniature counterpart is between 5 to 6 inches.
Dachshunds were primarily bred to hunt badgers and other small wild animals before making their transition into being a family pet. As a result, their hunting heritage will often come out in their personality. For its small size, a dachshund is an excellent watchdog.
Dachshunds are playful dogs, expect to find them around your feet while you’re going about your day. They’re an intelligent breed with a lively spirit and will be eager to help you – whether it’s finding
your missing sock or chasing mice. You’ll rarely find a shy dachshund, and these small dogs are not afraid to make their presence known. With their hunting heritage, dachshunds have minds of their own – and are not afraid to make their own rules. Don’t be surprised if you see your dachshund digging up your flowers or hunting after their toys.
Dachshunds are companion dogs and will form a close bond with their owner, almost at the expense of everyone else. It’s important socialize this breed from an early age to get them used to interacting with people and other dogs. A dachshund is a common choice therapy dog, as they become attached to their owners very quickly.
Dachshund Exercise Requirements
As a smaller dog, dachshunds are considered the perfect choice for anyone who lives in an apartment or doesn’t have an outdoor space. You’ll often see them on the subway with their owners in the city. A dachshund needs a moderate amount of exercise, and they probably aren’t the best choice if you’re looking for a hiking or long-distance running companion. Depending on your dog’s personality, they might be a more adventurous walker on your daily trail. You can take your dachshund for a 1-2 km walk in the morning and another in the evening.
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Dachshund Training and Care
Dachshunds can be difficult to housetrain, which is why crate training is usually recommended. With their loud bark, this breed may come to annoy your neighbours over time – so training is a must. Without training, your little dachshund could turn into a snappy dog later in life. Miniature dachshunds are notorious for being harder to train. Due to their small size, you want to avoid letting your dachshund get too used to sitting on furniture. Jumping off your sofa or a chair might result in an unfortunate injury or long-term shoulder or leg issues.
- Major health concerns: Patellar luxation, intervertebral disk disease
- Minor health concerns: KCS, diabetes, seizures, patellar luxation, gastric torsion, Cushing’s, deafness (in double dapples)
- Average life span: 12–14 years
If you live in a colder climate, you’ll want to keep your dachshund safe and warm by investing in a sweater or two. Dog sweaters are for more than just Instagram photos and are a must-have for any dachshund with a smooth coat.
The distinctive long back of a dachshund puts it at risk of damaging its disks, leading to paralysis. When holding a dachshund, be sure to provide additional support for their back. Due to their fragile back, obesity can cause serious health issues. Dachshunds have a healthy appetite and love to eat their food, and they have a tendency to overeat. Keeping your dog active and monitoring their food intake can help reduce the risk of your dachshund becoming overweight.
The average dachshund has a lifespan of 12 to 14 years, with diabetes, patellar luxation, and seizures being common health issues. Ear infections can also be an issue, so you want to make sure you’re regularly cleaning their ears to prevent any build-up.
Grooming requirements largely depend on the type of dachshund you have. The most common type of dachshund is the smooth variant, as they have short shiny coats that are easy to maintain. A longhaired variant has sleek hair with a slight wave, with the same distinctive shiny colour as the smooth dachshund. You’ll need to brush your longhaired dachshund daily to prevent any matting, especially around their ears and elbows.
A wirehaired dachshund needs a little more grooming. These dogs have thick and rough coats that can matt over time. Be sure to groom daily and pay attention to their bushy beard and eyebrows to make sure there’s no dirt caught in the hair. Wirehaired dachshunds need the dead hairs in their coat to be plucked semi-annually in a process known as ‘stripping’. If you take your wirehaired dachshund to a groomer, be sure to ask them to trim the hair between their paw pads and trim their beard and eyebrows.
Dachshunds should be bathed every six weeks at a minimum. This breed sheds moderately, meaning that regular grooming will prevent stray hairs from finding their way all over your furniture. Regularly trim a dachshund’s nails as they should never be long enough that you can hear them against a wooden floor.