WATCH NOW: Dachshunds Were Originally Badger Hunters!
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 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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