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David Jensen, Animal Photography
The Dachshund might be the smallest of the hounds, but he’s the biggest in spirit. His distinctive shape first catches the eye, but people who know him appreciate his character, intelligence, hunting spirit, and absolute devotion to his people.
The diminutive Dachshund comes in two sizes, three coat types and a wide variety of colors and markings, meaning there’s a Dachshund for almost everyone! Just don’t leave him alone outside -- his tendency to bark could create problems with the neighbors.
Famously described by H. L. Mencken as "a half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long," the Dachshund ranks among the most popular dog breeds in America. These short-legged, long-backed dogs are brave, bold and sometimes reckless, willing and ready to take on the badgers they were bred to hunt. To the surprise of their many fans, a 2008 study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science named the Dachshund the most aggressive of all dog breeds.
Dachshunds are active, fun-loving dogs, but they can also be hard to housetrain, willful and feisty, which might make them a poor choice for many families, particularly those with children. Dachshunds are also wary of strangers and tend to bark loudly when their suspicions are aroused – or because a leaf blew across the lawn. That tendency to bark at the least provocation is just one of many reasons a Dachshund cannot be left alone out in the yard or live outdoors.
The breed descended from dogs bred to fearlessly follow prey into underground burrows and tunnels – a job a few of them still manage. Those traits make the Dachshund determined to the point of stubbornness, a bit aggressive with other dogs and an enthusiastic digger.
For those who love the breed, there’s a lot of variety: Dachshunds come in two sizes – the standard, weighing between 16 and 32 pounds, and the miniature, which is 11 pounds and under. They also come in three coat types: smooth, wirehaired and longhaired. All three coat types come in a variety of colors and markings, including solid colored, dappled and marked with white.
Dachshunds are good family dogs if they are brought up with kids, but it’s important to supervise play so that children don’t pick up or hold them incorrectly. Their adaptable nature and moderate exercise needs make them appropriate for anyone from young singles or couples to seniors.
Badgers and other burrowing beasts are the bane of country folk everywhere and have been for centuries. To rid themselves of the hole-digging pests, foresters and huntsmen developed a long-bodied, short-legged dog with the tenacity and toughness to root out badgers from their dens. First known as the teckel in his home country of Germany, the Dachshund has been around in one form or another for at least 500 years. He was prized for his strong scenting ability, small size, determination to dig and courage in the face of a formidable foe. Breeds that probably contributed to the development of the Dachshund were the schweisshund, a type of Bloodhound; pointer-type dogs known as dachsbracke; Basset Hounds and Beagles.
The earliest Dachshunds had smooth coats that could be any color. The longhaired Dachshund, which was popular for hunting water-loving prey such as otters, may have been created through crosses with spaniels. The wirehaired Dachshund is the youngest of the varieties, receiving official recognition in 1890. His rough coat protects him from thorny brush as he pursues his prey.
Dachshunds first came to the United States in 1870, imported to hunt rabbits. The American Kennel Club registered its first Dachshund in 1885, and the Dachshund Club of America was formed 10 years later.
Because of its German heritage, the breed’s popularity took a nosedive during World War I. It took a couple of decades for the breed to regain acceptance. Once it did, not even World War II, with the Germans as enemies again, could stop the Dachshund’s rise to his current place as one of America’s favorite dogs. These days, the Dachshund is ranked number eight among the breeds registered by the AKC.
One of the words most associated with the Dachshund is “determined.” The breed standard describes him as clever, lively and courageous to the point of rashness. This is a dog who never gives up. And size makes no matter. A mini Dachshund is no less determined simply because he is smaller. Never insult him by calling him “cute.”
While all Dachshunds should be brave and fearless, each type has a distinct personality. The wirehaired Dachshunds are terrier-like in temperament, with a clownish attitude and a propensity for getting into trouble. They are the ones you’ll find taking one end of the roll of toilet paper and running through the house with it.
Longhaired Dachshunds tend to have a softer temperament to match their silky coats. They are quiet and elegant, with a somewhat more biddable personality, but they are just as active as smooth or wirehaired Dachshunds.
The smooth? Moderate is his middle name. He’s mischievous, for sure — he wouldn’t be a real Dachshund if he weren’t — but not as wild and crazy as the wire and not as quiet as the longhair.
The Dachshund is many things — stubborn, curious, independent — but one thing he should never be is shy. This is a dog who boldly goes out to meet friends and, as needed, battle foes. He is an outstanding watchdog but welcomes guests.
Training him — well, it’s been said that the term “obedient Dachshund” is an oxymoron. Nevertheless, a Dachshund who will work for you instead of against you can become a heck of a competitor in obedience trials, rally and other dog sports. It’s just a matter of finding what motivates him. Usually food works, but Dachshunds have their own way of thinking and no matter how good the treats are, sometimes their desires just won’t coincide with what you’re asking them to do. Training a Dachshund calls for patience, consistency and a great sense of humor.
Here’s what else you should know about living with Dachshunds.
Dachshunds dig. That is what they’re born to do, after all. Just because they live in a house with you doesn’t mean they no longer have the digging instinct. If possible, give your Dachshund his own place to dig in your yard. When nothing else is available, you may find him burrowing into the blankets on your on bed.
Dachshunds love to eat. Their appetite can best be described as voracious. If given the opportunity, they will eat until they make themselves sick. Fat Dachshunds are more prone to musculoskeletal problems. To prevent both obesity and a case of garbage gut, measure your Dachshund’s food, give treats judiciously and lead him not into temptation by leaving food or trash out where he can get to it.
Dachshunds need a moderate amount of exercise. He’ll be satisfied with a couple of half-mile walks daily, but he’s capable of three- to four-mile walks over hill and dale. If you are a go-getter, you’ll enjoy walking with the purposeful Dachshund. This is a dog with places to go and things to sniff and pee on. Walks aren’t the only way to exercise a Dachshund. He is a versatile dog who will enjoy tracking rabbits in field trials, taking part in earthdog trials that involve tunneling after (safely-caged) rats, bringing Dachshund delight as a therapy dog in nursing homes and hospitals, and racing through an obstacle course in agility trials.
Dachshunds can be housetrained, but they’re not always 100 percent reliable. If it’s cold or rainy outside, well, they’re not exactly sure why they should have to go out in bad weather when it’s just as easy to pee in the house. Be patient, and if you live in a place with inclement weather, consider teaching your Dachshund to use those puppy pee pads. You’ll both be happier.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines. Here’s a brief rundown on what you should know.
The most common health issues in the breed are back problems. Conditions severe enough for hind-end paralysis are so common that Dachshunds are one of the breeds most likely to spend part of their lives in “canine wheelchairs”: wheeled carts that support the rear of the dogs.
Because of their long, low-slung spines, normal canine behavior like jumping off the sofa may result in a slipped, pinched, herniated or ruptured disc. Depending on the location of the disc injury, the front and/or rear limbs may be affected, and it could potentially affect the dog's ability to urinate or defecate. If your dog is having difficulty walking, or appears to be in pain, seek immediate veterinary attention. While all dogs may not require surgey, in some cases, prompt surgery can help prevent the permanent loss of limb function.
It can be a challenge to give a Dachshund enough exercise to keep him mentally stimulated and physically fit without also harming his back. Keeping your Dachshund on the lean side will help, as will training him when young to use ramps to access sofas, beds and other high surfaces.
Similar to other deep-chested breeds, Dachshunds are prone to bloat, a condition in which the stomach expands with air. This can become the more serious condition, gastric torsion, if the stomach twists around, cutting off the blood supply. Gastric torsion strikes suddenly, and a dog who was fine one minute can be dead a few hours later. Watch for symptoms like restlessness and pacing, drooling, pale gums and lip licking, trying to throw up but without bringing anything up, and signs of pain. Gastric requires immediate veterinary surgery, and most dogs that have bloated once will bloat again. That means it’s wise to opt for the procedure known as "stomach tacking," which will prevent the stomach from twisting in the future.
Epilepsy, skin conditions, eye disorders and diabetes are also found in the breed. If a puppy's parents are both of the pattern known as "dapple" (a swirl of different colors), he can also suffer from deafness.
Health registries are one way that breeders can get a handle on genetic disease, and they are also a great resource for puppy buyers who want to check the health of a puppy’s parents. Before individual Dachshunds can be included in the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) database, the Dachshund Club of America requires them to have a clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation and a patella (knee) evaluation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Optional CHIC tests for the Dachshund are a DNA test for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) by Animal Health Trust, an OFA thyroid evaluation, and an OFA evaluation for congenital deafness. You can search the OFA and CHIC websites yourself to see if a pup’s parents are listed.
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents. If the breeder tells you she doesn't need to do those tests because she's never had problems in her lines and her dogs have been "vet checked," then you should go find a breeder who is more rigorous about genetic testing.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Dachshund at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life, prevent back injuries and relieve the aches and pains of arthritis in old age. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
Dachshunds like to roll in stinky things. So while they typically don’t need baths more often than every six weeks or so, that rule goes out the window when they find something especially aromatic — to them, anyway. To you, it’s simply eau de bathtime.
Other than that, brush smooth and longhaired Dachshunds weekly to keep them clean and, in the case of the longhair, tangle-free. They shed moderately and regular grooming will help keep loose hair from falling off the dog and onto your clothes and furniture. The wire needs a different kind of grooming. The dead hairs in his coat must be plucked out twice a year, called stripping. Your dog’s breeder can show you how to do it. You’ll also want to trim his bushy beard and eyebrows to keep them looking neat. For the longhair and the wire, trim excess hair between the paw pads.
Keep your Dachshund’s droopy ears clean with a solution recommended by your veterinarian. Don’t use cotton swabs inside the ear; they can push gunk further down into it. Wipe out the ear with a cotton ball, never going deeper than the first knuckle of your finger.
Trim his nails regularly, usually every couple of weeks. They should never be so long that you hear them clicking on the floor.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as is possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than in making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical and should be reported to the ABC and the American Kennel Club. For more information about the breed or to find a list of breeders, visit the website of the Dachshund Club of America.
You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Many reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Dachshund puppy varies depending on his place of origin, whether he is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and show or working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
And before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Dachshund might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult Dachshund may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Dachshund in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Dachshunds available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Dachshund. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Dachshund rescues in your area. Most people who love Dachshunds love all Dachshunds. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Dachshund Club of America’s rescue network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Dachshund rescues in your area.
Wherever you acquire your Dachshund, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Dachshund, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Dachshund to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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