Dachshund Breed Summary
Playful, Independent, Devoted and Sweet
Known as ‘the badger dog’ and now more affectionately ‘sausage dog’, the Dachshund was created in Germany originally to catch badgers. This breed can be dated back to the 15th century, where dogs with a similar resemblance were depicted in illustrations, and again in the 16th century in documents discussing a ‘badger creeper’ dog. These dogs were a lot bigger than the breed we see today, and it took many years to refine them during the 18th and 19th century. This resulted in a dog which was able to dig deeper into Badger burrows than other dogs and potentially even fight the Badger to death! This also accounts for the reason as to why they have such deep, loud barks, as it allowed the hunter to locate his dogs, no matter how far inside a burrow they may have gone! They increased in ‘pet popularity’ during the 1800s, and Queen Victoria was very fond of the breed. This eventually led to the breed being reduced in size and saw the introduction of the miniature Dachshund as well.
|Kennel Club Group||Hound|
|Height (at the withers)||Males and Females 20cm - 27cm|
|Weight||Males and Females 9kg - 12kg|
|Coat||Smooth, Long, or Wire-Haired.|
|Colour||Various including Black, Tan, Brindle, Chocolate, Cream, and Combinations Of These|
|Common health issues||Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD); Epilepsy; Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) Also called Bloat or Torsion; Cushings Disease|
|Other Names||Dachie; Sausage Dog; Wiener Dog, Doxie|
These little sausages make a delightful addition to any family, and it’s no surprise they’ve topped the most popular dogs' list for over 60 years! They love to be close to their ‘hoomans’ and are extremely playful. Be warned though, these little cuties can be very stubborn and independent, making them more difficult to train than other breeds. Dachshund's also love to chase after other small animals, like birds – remember, they were bred to kill badgers! Additionally, they can become rather snappy when their owners don’t give them enough attention. It’s therefore vital that these pups are trained and socialised correctly so that they know both the rules and that you’re in charge.
The Dachshund we know today originated in Germany. The word Dachshund literally translates as ‘badger dog’, although they’re now more commonly known as Dackel or Teckel in their native country. Illustrations of Dachshund-like are seen in 15th-century books, and documents from the 16th century talk about ‘earth dogs’, ‘badger creepers’ and ‘dachsels’. However, depictions of similar dogs can be found in Ancient Egypt, Mexico, and in Roman times.
Despite the name, the Dachshund’s prey wasn’t only badgers. They were also used for springing foxes from their dens and trailed wild boar. It might seem odd that such small dogs were used to track the large and aggressive boar, but their size varied greatly at that time. Some were as large 30-35lbs, and these were used for badgers and boar. For foxes and deer, the dogs were likely to be in the 16-22lbs range and, the smallest, around 12lbs, were used for hares and weasels. For a very short time in the 20th century, tiny 5lb Dachshunds were used for springing cottontail rabbits.
It was during the 18th and 19th centuries that the breed began to be refined by German foresters. They had a need for a long-bodied, short-legged, and fearless dog that could dig into badger setts before fighting them. Today, the Dachshund can be found in smooth, long and wire-coated versions, but the smooth-coated was the first to be developed. These came from crossing them with the Braque (a French ‘pointing’ breed) and the Pinscher (a small terrier-type ratting dog). French Basset Hounds may also have been introduced into the bloodline. It seems likely that the long-coated Dachshund came from cross-breeding with spaniels, and the wire-coated from terrier breeds.
The Dachshund’s shape makes them ideal for hunting both below and above ground. For below ground, their short, but powerful legs allowed them to get deep into the narrow tunnels, while their oversized paddle-shaped paws were perfect for digging. The Dachshund’s long, strong tails allowed their owners to easily pull them from the burrow, and their loose skin prevented them from suffering injury from protruding roots. For hunting above ground, their deep chest houses powerful lungs, and their long noses help them to scent out their prey. Dachshunds have a surprisingly deep bark for their stature, which allowed hunters to easily locate them when underground. To do their jobs, these little dogs needed to be fearless, bold, and strong-willed, and to kill as well as hunt. These qualities can still be found in even the smallest of the breed today.
In the 1800s, the Dachshund moved from being hunters to pets. They became popular with royal courts across Europe, especially with that inveterate dog lover, Queen Victoria, and her husband Prince Albert. This royal favour led to them being bred to be smaller, losing around 10lbs in weight, and eventually to the creation of the miniature version.
The first Dachshund dog show took place in England in 1859, although the first breed standard wasn’t written until 1879. The German Dachshund Club was formed in 1888. The Dachshund arrived in the USA in 1885, as shown by the first registrations, and the Dachshund Club of America began in 1895. During the 1910s and in 1913 and 1914, the Dachshund was one of the most popular breeds at dog shows, but the breed was badly affected during the First World War due to their German origins. Some Dachshund owners were even called traitors, and their dogs were injured. The breed was so badly affected in the States, that new Dachshund stock was imported from Germany after the War to revive it. The Second World War had a similar, although not so severe, effect on numbers.
The popularity of the Dachshund grew in the 1950s and has remained stable. While in the USA and the UK the dogs are kept mainly as pets, in parts of Europe they’re still widely used as hunting dogs.