Today’s dachshund, that adorable little “sausage dog” with a big personality, comes originally from Germany and is most likely a blend of the basset hound and the terrier, according to Liz Palika, author of Howell Book of Dogs. This little dog is independent and fearless, but it’s also clever and affectionate. Dachshunds form strong bonds with their owners. Like other dog breeds, the dachshund is prone to specific health disorders, and it requires training and consistency to help it develop acceptable social behaviors.
Dachshunds are classified as either standard or miniature. Dogs in the standard group weigh between 16 lbs. and 32 lbs. at adulthood, while the miniature variety weighs less than 11 lbs. when full-grown. Despite the size difference, the American Kennel Club judges both varieties by the same physical conformation standards. The dachshund's head narrows toward its elongated nose, creating a long jawline. The dachshund’s neck is long and strong, but this breed’s most distinguished characteristics are its long torso and its short legs. The dachshund may have a short sleek coat, a long straight coat or a coarse, wiry coat. Coat colors vary widely, ranging from tan to brown and black, and including red and gray shades or an uncommon dappled appearance.
Temperament and Training
In German, the word “dachshund” translates into “badger hunter,” and this mighty little dog lives up to that reputation. Aggressive, protective and with a tenacious hunting instinct, the dachshund will challenge much larger dogs, often to its own detriment. With a strong prey drive, the dachshund will chase cats, errant rabbits or birds despite chastising by its owner. Obedience training is essential, but it can be difficult because of the dachshund’s independent attitude. Palika recommends formal group training as a young puppy to counter the dachshund’s stubbornness and its predisposition for incessant barking.
The dachshund needs regular exercise to channel its excessive energy, but it's important to prevent it from jumping or falling because of a high risk of injury to its back. The dog is prone to spinal disc injuries, urinary tract stones and eye abnormalities. Obesity is a problem because it increases the downward pressure on the dachshund’s low-slung back. Double-dappled dachshunds, created when two dapple-coated dachshunds breed, can result in puppies that are deaf or puppies with small or missing eyes. Indiscriminate breeding is discouraged.
Smooth-coat dachshunds require minimal grooming, including twice-monthly brushing and occasional bathing when the dog is dirty. Brush the long-haired variety at least every other day to prevent tangles and snarls. The wirehaired dachshund needs twice-a-week brushing, Palik advises, and a professional groomer should strip dead hair from the dog's coat twice a year. Use premoistened ear and eye wipes to clean away matter when necessary, and use a rotating dog-nail grinding tool to grind down long nails. Dremel makes a dog-specific grinding tool. Since a dachshund’s nails are dark, nicking the cuticle is a problem when trimming its nails with standard dog nail clippers.
The dachshund makes a loyal companion and adapts well to families with children, although Palik advises parents to monitor interaction between small children for both the children’s and the dog’s safety. This determined little dog is fiercely protective of its family and its territory and requires early socialization and frequent exposure to other people and animals as it grows.
- Howell Book of Dogs; Liz Palik
- AKC Meet the Breeds: Dachshund
- Dachshund.org: What Is a Double Dapple?
- sad percy image by Miyazaki from Fotolia.com