Dachshunds Dog Description
They are often referred to as “wiener dogs” because they resemble a hot dog. Their height and weight are determined by their breed type. There are three types of Dachshunds: short hair, wire hair, and long hair. Their coat length and texture varies depending on which breed of Dachshund they are. All of the breeds have very shiny coats, and they range in color which includes, but are not limited to, red, brown, tan, black, gray or yellow. They can also be harlequin, speckled, or piebald.
Dachshunds originated from Germany. They were bred to hunt badgers and other small game, hence their elongated bodies that were bred to fit down small holes during their chases. Today they are most commonly used as companion dogs and are very popular worldwide.
The Dachshund as we know it today comes in three coat varieties; smooth, wirehaired and longhaired. They also come in the two sizes, standard and miniature.
Although rarely used now days for its original purpose, the history of the breed can cause the dog fancier to appreciate the Dachshund even more.
The word Dachshund itself means, “badger dog.” This term can be found in European books dating from the 15th century and describes a dog that has the tracking ability of a hound mixed with the courage, temperament and size of a terrier.
Paintings, woodcuts and sketches from the 15th – 17th centuries show a dog whose body is very long, with short, sometimes bent legs and terrier like heads.
In each style of artwork, smooth and longhaired varieties appear although written evidence suggests each variety was selectively bred. This selective breeding is continued today as mixing of coats will often produce in between specimens that won’t conform to the Kennel Club’s standards.
There is evidence that Dandie Dinmont terriers and Schnauzers were crossed with the wirehaired dachshunds to improve the coat quality while the temperaments of both these breeds assured nothing was lost as far aggressiveness and hunting abilities.
Badgers are fierce creatures, which can weigh in between twenty-five and forty pounds that would go to earth when necessary. Out of this trait, many scholars believe came the cause of selectively breeding for two sizes of dogs. ‘
The standard dog would go into the badger’s tunnel and force it to come out above ground to then be killed. The courage needed for the dog to travel under ground and confront a much larger adversary is often still seen in today’s Dachshunds. The ability to travel in the dark and work underground is also seen. The American Kennel Club has specialty events in which dogs earn their “Earthdog titles.”
The smaller varieties of Dachshund were bred to be an excellent advantage to the hunter out looking for rabbits since rabbit warrens are tighter in maneuvering room. One of the things breeders had to look out for was the circumference of the chest since it had to fit within the diameter of the tunnels the dog was working. In addition to badgers and rabbits, Dachshunds have been used to hunt wild boars, stoats, and foxes as well as to trail wounded deer.
In America, Dachshunds were seen well before the first entries into the American Kennel Club Stud book. This 1885 book has “Dash” as the first registered Dachshund in America but he had ten registrants to keep him company during the year.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) approved the most recent standards set for the Dachshund breed April 7, 1992. The only distinctions shown are for type of coat and size of dog.
In general appearance, the Dachshund is a dog built low to the ground with a muscular long body, short legs. He should well balanced and courageous with a confident head carriage. His expression is one of intelligence and alertness.
There is an interesting note in the actual AKC wording of the breed standard,
“Inasmuch as the Dachshund is a hunting dog, scars from honorable wounds shall not be considered a fault.”
The miniature size specimens should weigh eleven pounds or less at one year of age while the standard size dogs can weigh up to thirty-two pounds.
When looking at the head from above or from the side, it uniformly tapers to the end of the nose. The eyes are dark, medium sized and dark ringed while also being almond-shaped.
Long, rounded ears are set near the top of the head but not too far forward. When alert, the ears will come forward so that the front edge touches the cheek. This cheek merges into a well-formed, slightly arched muzzle. The nose should be black, lips tightly stretched and covering the strong teeth. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite although an even bite is only considered a minor fault.
A Dachshund has a long neck that is slightly arched but very muscular. It should merge gracefully into long, well-laid back shoulders set over a full, well-sprung rib cage. The chest itself will have a very prominent sternum or breastbone and actually shows a dimple on either side.
The forelegs of the Dachshund have upper “arms” that are approximately the same length as the shoulder blades while coming down from the blades at a ninety-degree angle. These upper arms as well as the elbows are set close to the ribs with strong bones and muscles. The lower part or “forearm” is short and will often appear slightly crooked.
The forearm attaches to front paws that are compact with well-arched toes and tough thick pads. There are five toes on the front feet but only four are actually used. Front dewclaws may be removed but isn’t required.
The topline or back of should be long, well muscled and lie in a straight line between the shoulders and loin. The abdomen will be slightly drawn up from the very rounded rib cage.
The hindquarters are very strong with a rounded full rump, moderately sloping hips that join the thighbones at right angles. Each thigh then meets the lower thigh at another right angle with both bones being very close to the same length.
When viewed from the rear, neither hindquarters nor the shoulders should appear higher than the other and the hocks should appear straight. A cow-hocked dog will be penalized. The tail is set fairly high while being strong and tapering without appearing to be too long.
The smooth coated varieties should have a short, smooth and shining coat. The solid or single colored dogs will come in red or cream. The two-colored Dachshunds can come in, black, chocolate, wild boar, gray or fawn with tan markings over the eyes, on the sides of the jaw and the under lip. This same tan will also be observed on the inner sides of the ear, front, breast, inside and behind the forelegs, on the paws, around the anus and on the underside of the tail. A small amount of white on the chest is acceptable but solid white isn’t. Toenails and nose should be black.
A wirehaired specimen with the exception of the eyebrows, jaws and ears, will have a whole body covered with a uniformly tight, short, thick, rough otter coat. A finer, somewhat softer undercoat is a necessity and its absence will be faulted. The ears will have hair that is almost as short as the ears of a smooth Dachshund while the dog will have a wiry beard and eyebrows. All the colors of the smooth variety are acceptable in the wirehaired.
The longhaired Dachshund often has a wavy coat that should be sleek, shining with the hair longer under the neck, forechest, under side of the body, ears and behind the legs. Equally long hair over the entire body of the dog, curly or a pronounced part down the back is faults. The hair on the tail is the longest and forms a beautiful flag. As with the wirehaired Dachshunds, any of the smooth color variations are accepted.
These “show” standards are the ideal Dachshund looks but need not be held against “pet” specimens. Dachshunds regardless of their appearance have been making excellent family pets for centuries. They are loyal companions that can turn into fierce protectors in an instant. Hard, playful and with little upkeep needed, they make perfect indoor or outdoor, city or country dogs. They seem to have boundless energy, an intelligence that can often amaze the owner and a healthy constitution. Dachshunds can be trained to do almost any trick or command but special care should be taken when walking the breed.
Instead of walking with a collar around the neck, Dachshunds usually do better with a harness that doesn’t allow the jerking against a small area of vertebra.
Due to their length/height ratio, back and disk problems can always be a risk and excessive jumping should be avoided.
Special interest should also be given to the Dachshund’s nails. They grow quickly and will curve either to the side or under the foot causing pain or lameness. Owners are often afraid of clipping their Dachshund’s nails because of the black color. Being unable to see the quick or blood supply, they worry about causing pain and bleeding to the dog. A trip to the veterinarian will allow you to see the exact area that should be clipped. One of the easiest ways to figure this out is to have someone hold the dog still while you look at a nail from a side view. On the underside there will be a noticeable “notch”. On the side of this notch farthest from the foot, clippers can be placed to remove the excess nail.
With the exception of getting rid of external parasites such as fleas and ticks, the Dachshund requires infrequent baths and simple preventative care such as vaccinations and heartworm preventative. What he gives in return will be years of companionship and watchfulness for children, adults and the elderly. Never believe you have a small dog because he will always consider himself ten feet tall and bullet proof. They will bark to warn of intruders, take on the biggest dog on the block if it comes into reach of HIS owner, and still warm your feet at night whether you want him to or not. The Dachshund is almost unmatched by any other breed when it comes to burrowing into small areas or under covers.
With proper care, love and attention, a Dachshund will become a family member that gives more than he receives during what is usually a long and health life.
Dachshunds are a very well-rounded breed. They are very bold and proud. They are playful and affectionate making them a wonderful family pet. They are not well-suited, however, for households with smaller children as they can easily become agitated if poked and prodded. They are compulsive diggers and have loud barks. They are usually good with other pets but can become jealous and if this occurs, they may bite.
Dachshunds gain weight very easily and thus should have closely monitored diets and be given treats sparingly. They are prone to spinal disc problems, urinary tract infections, heart disease, and diabetes. An overweight Dachshund is far more likely to develop all of the described problems.
Dachshunds are a surprisingly active breed. They are very active indoors and engage in play that similar to that of a kitten. They enjoy walks outside but prefer long sessions of play inside. They should be discouraged from jumping because they are prone to spinal disc damage.
Special Grooming Needs
A Dachshund’s grooming needs depend completely on what type of coat they have. Long-haired dogs of this breed need to be brushed daily. The wire hair variety is by far the hardest type of coat to care for and should be done by a professional. A short hair Dachshund requires little to no grooming. It is best if they are wiped down with a damp cloth periodically instead of frequent baths.