The Dachshund, or “Dachsie,” for short, is America’s 13th most popular dog breed.
Developed in Germany over 300 years ago, this smart, spunky little dog is named after its intended purpose: to hunt badgers. The word Dachshund comes from a combination of the German word for badger: “Dachs” and the German word for dog: “Hund.”
There is some dispute as to the Dachshund’s history, particularly regarding when it was first bred specifically to hunt badgers. What is certain, however, is that the Dachshund’s predecessors make appearances in historical accounts as far back as the 15th century. Illustrations from medieval European literature show short-legged, long-bodied dogs hunting badgers. These small dogs were celebrated for their hound-like tracking ability, and their terrier-like stature and temperament: the ideal combination of traits for hunting badgers.
It was not until the 17th century that the name “Dachshund” came about to describe these lively little hunting dogs of smooth and longhaired coat varieties (wirehaired Dachshunds were not added as an official variety until 1890).
As the breed developed, two different sizes became the forerunners and were favored for their respective suitabilities to different types of game. The larger variety, weighing 30-35 pounds was used for badgers and wild boar, while the smaller variety, weighing 16-22 pounds, was ideal for hunting smaller game such as foxes and rabbits. Consequently, today’s Dachshund comes in two size varieties: standard Dachshund and miniature Dachshund.
The Dachshund made its first appearance on U.S. soil, and gained official AKC recognition in 1885, according to the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Stud Book. Long regarded as a symbol of Germany, the breed’s popularity in America waned during both World Wars. In postwar years, the Dachshund was referred to as “Badger Dog” in an attempt to distance him from his German origins. However, fondness for this intelligent, peppy little dog eventually outweighed his political symbolism, and today, the Dachshund is one of America’s most popular breeds.
The AKC also holds field trials called EarthDog where breeds like the Dachshund and small Terriers can practice their hunting skills by seeking and locating rats in their burrows, which aren’t harmed in the program. In fact, many rat owners have their animals participate in below ground work with the dogs.
Although they’re keen hunters, Dachshunds are also champion lap dogs and popular family pets. For people who are seeking a dog with a unique personality and a mind of his own, a Dachshund might fit the bill. With proper, consistent training, regular exercise and mental stimulation, and supervision around children and other pets, a Dachsie can make a great addition to the family.
Health problems are generally related to weight due to their small size, and Dachshunds are most prone to diabetes. They can also suffer from progressive retinol atrophy. Daily exercise, a healthy diet, and regular vet visits are key.
And yes, the other nicknames for this family dog with short legs include sausage dog and wiener dog.
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The head tapers to the tip of the nose. Medium-size, almond-shaped, dark eyes are dark-rimmed and pleasantly expressive. The medium-length ears sit near the top of the head and are rounded and carried to frame the face when the dog is excited.
A gently arched muzzle gives the dog the appearance of a Roman nose. Tightly stretched lips cover the lower jaw. The dog has well-developed, strong bones and teeth, which fit tightly together in a scissors bite.
The dog’s neck is long, muscular, and clean-cut. It connects smoothly into the shoulders. The long trunk is well muscled. The dog’s back is a straight line between the withers and the short, mildly arched loin.
The body sits tight between the shoulders, and boasts a slight abdominal tuck.
The coat comes in three varieties: smooth, wirehaired, or longhaired. The AKC recognizes 12 coat colors and three types of markings. Regular grooming is important.
The long-bodied, short-legged dog stands low to the ground. He is muscular and well-balanced. Despite his unique stature, his movement is smooth, without awkwardness or a sense of being cramped. He carries himself confidently, and maintains an alert, intelligent expression. He was bred for work below ground and every feature of his appearance supports his intended purpose.
Dachshunds come in two sizes: standards weigh 16-32 pounds and stand 8-9 inches tall, and miniatures weigh 11 pounds and under and stand 5-6 inches tall.
The Dachshund is lively, curious, and friendly. His high intelligence leads boredom, so he needs to be kept busy and stimulated. He can be on the stubborn side, but he responds well to regular and consistent training.
With proper supervision, he does well with children and other pets. If there’s one word to describe the Dachsie’s personality, it’s “spunky.”
With a lifespan of 12-16 years, the Dachshund is a relatively healthy dog. However, like all breeds, it is prone to certain health issues. For the Dachshund, primary concerns include weight-related issues such as diabetes, joint problems, and spinal issues.
Keeping your Dachshund at a healthy weight is incredibly important as a means of avoiding these potential health issues. Regular, quality veterinary care is essential, regardless of the dog’s age or state of health.
The Dachshund Club of America is the official national breed club and a great resource for all things Dachsie. There you can find reputable breeders for Dachshund puppies, and be sure to check out animal shelters and rescue groups to see if you can adopt!
Is there a special Dachsie in your life? Is it a longhaired Dachshund? A smooth Dachshund? A mini Dachshund? Show and tell us about it in the comments section!
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