Dachshund

Photo of adult Dachshund

There are two different types of Dachshund recognized by the UK Kennel Club; the Standard and the Miniature. Each type comes in 3 possible coat variations; smooth-haired, long-haired and wire-haired. Dachshunds originate from Germany and were bred to hunt predominantly badgers, but also foxes, wild boar, rabbit and also to track wounded deer. The Dachshund is a muscular and robust little dog, which is lively and has a strong and sometimes stubborn character. They are generally extremely loyal and faithful and curious with outgoing characters.

Dachshunds normally live for 12 or more years but must not be allowed to become overweight, as this can put extra stress on their backs. In addition to back problems, they can also suffer from some other health problems, but these vary depending on size and coat colour. They can adapt well to city living but still need to be well exercised with plenty of mental stimulation. Dachshunds are not ideal dogs for families with young children, as they can nip. The breed is intelligent but can be stubborn when it comes to training and recall so a firm and consistent approach is needed. The amount of grooming a Dachshund needs depends on its coat type.

About & History

The Standard Dachshund and Miniature Dachshund are small, short-legged dogs which belong to the scent hound group. There are six different variations depending on size and coat type. These include standard and miniature varieties with smooth, wire or long coats. The modern Dachshund originates from Germany where it was bred to work, hunting badgers, wild boar, foxes and rabbits or tracking wounded deer. There are references to the first Dachshunds from as far back as the 1700’s although there is uncertainty and disagreement about the breeds from which is was created. The first Dachshunds were smooth coated and larger than those of today, and came in both ‘straight’ and ‘crooked’ leg varieties. The ‘crooked’ leg variety was used to develop the modern Dachshund.

In some countries, such as Germany, and Kennel Clubs, such as the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, there is a third size of Dachshund which is recognized and this is known as the ‘Rabbit’ Dachshund; it is slightly smaller than the Miniature Dachshund. The first Dachshunds were smooth haired and the long and wire-haired types were developed later. There is some debate about which breeds were used to introduce these different coat types. In the case of the Long-Haired Dachshund there are two possible theories about how its coat was developed. One is that dogs with longer coats were selectively crossed with each other and the other is that land and water spaniels were used to create it. The latter of these would also account for their slightly different character. The Wire-Haired Dachshund was developed latest of all and it is thought that wire haired dogs were crossed with Dachshunds, also accounting for its more terrier like character and love of digging. In Germany, Dachshunds are classed by their chest circumference, which determines what size holes they could fit down when going to ground.

Today the Dachshund is still used as a hunting dog and is also a popular dog used to compete in earthdog trials. In addition, the breed has become a popular choice of companion dog around the world, in part due to their small size, which makes them adaptable to city environments.

Appearance

The Dachshund comes with 3 different coat varieties. These include smooth, wire-haired and long-haired. Both standard and miniature Dachshunds can come with these 3 different coat variations, but accepted colours for registration with the UK Kennel Club can vary:

Smooth-Haired Dachshund

  • Black & Tan
  • Black & Tan Brindle
  • Black & Tan Dapple
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate & Tan
  • Chocolate & Tan Brindle
  • Chocolate & Tan Dapple
  • Red
  • Red Brindle
  • Red Dapple
  • Shaded Red
  • Silver Dapple and Tan

Miniature Smooth-Haired Dachshund

  • Black & Tan
  • Black & Tan Brindle
  • Choc Dapple & Cream Brindle
  • Chocolate & Cream
  • Chocolate & Tan
  • Chocolate Dapple & Cream
  • Chocolate Dapple & Tan
  • Chocolate Dapple & Tan Brindle
  • Cream
  • Cream Brindle
  • Cream Dapple
  • Red
  • Red Brindle
  • Red Dapple
  • Shaded Red
  • Silver Dapple & Cream
  • Silver Dapple & Cream Brindle
  • Silver Dapple & Tan
  • Silver Dapple & Tan Brindle

Long-Haired Dachshund

  • Black & Tan
  • Chocolate & Tan
  • Chocolate Dapple & Tan
  • Red
  • Shaded Red
  • Silver Dapple & Tan

Miniature Long-Haired Dachshund

The same colours as the standard Long-Haired Dachshund plus the following colours are accepted for registration:

  • Black & Cream
  • Black & Cream Brindle
  • Black & Tan Brindle
  • Chocolate & Cream
  • Chocolate & Cream Brindle
  • Chocolate & Tan Brindle
  • Chocolate Dapple & Cream
  • Chocolate Dapple & Tan Brindle
  • Chocolate Dapple Cream Brindle
  • Cream
  • Cream Brindle
  • Cream Dapple
  • Red Brindle
  • Red Dapple
  • Shaded Cream
  • Silver Dapple & Cream
  • Silver Dapple & Cream Brindle
  • Silver Dapple & Tan Brindle

Wire-Haired Dachshund and Miniature Wire-Haired Dachshund

  • Black & Tan
  • Black & Tan Brindle
  • Black & Tan Brindle Dapple
  • Black & Tan Dapple
  • Black Brindle
  • Brindle
  • Brindle & Tan
  • Brindle & Tan Dapple
  • Brindle Dapple
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate & Tan
  • Chocolate & Tan Dapple
  • Chocolate Dapple
  • Dapple
  • Dark Brindle
  • Grey Brindle
  • Red
  • Red Brindle
  • Red Dapple
  • Silver Dapple
  • Silver Dapple and Tan
  • Wild Boar

The Dachshund is a compact, muscular, and robust dog, which is described as being ‘short legged, but not long bodied’ by the UK Kennel Club. They have an elongated appearance and their body should be about 1.7 – 1.8 times as long as their height to the withers. Dachshunds should have a proud look and carry their head high. The chest should never drag on the floor and distance to the ground should be approximately one third of the overall height to the withers. The ideal weight for the Standard Dachshund is between 9 and 12 kg and 4.5 – 5 kg for the Miniature Dachshund.

Dachshunds have a lengthy muscular neck, which is slightly arched. It leads to long, wide shoulder blades, which should be well angled over a strong deep ribcage. Front legs should be sturdy, straight and short and be held close to the ribs. The front feet should be wide and robust for digging, and turned slightly outwards. The body should be muscular and reasonably long, leading to a loin region, which is short and strong and slightly arched. The back end should be wide and muscular with a minimal slope down to the tail. Hind legs should be set reasonably far apart but be straight and parallel with feet that are smaller than the front ones. The tail should be slightly curved and not carried too high.

The breed has a long face with a medium width skull sloping gradually towards the muzzle which tapers towards the nose. The jaw should have a perfect bite and be strong and able to open wide with a mouth of well developed, powerful teeth. The length from the end of the nose to the eyes should be the same as the distance from the eyes to the back of the head. In the Wire-Haired Dachshund, the ridges over the eyes are more obvious thus making their skull appear wider. The eyes are medium size and almond shaped and should be dark in most coat colours. Ears are high set, wide and of a medium length with a rounded tip which should fall over and touch the cheek. When alert they should be moved to pay attention to anything of interest.

Despite Dachshunds short legs, the breed should be mobile and quick. It should move with a gait which flows and is energetic and covers ground despite their small size. The hind legs should drive the movement and cause a slightly springy action, which can be seen as a bounce in the topline. The front and back legs should move parallel to each other.

Character & Temperament

Photo of Dachshund puppy

Both the Standard and Miniature Dachshund are small, curious, loyal dogs with outgoing characters. They are extremely brave and persistent. Although Dachshunds are friendly with their family, they often do not like strangers and may bark if approached by somebody they do not know. This means that socialisation with both other dogs and people is important from a young age. Dachshunds are hunters by nature so are not always that compatible with other pets, however, if they can be taught to be tolerant if socialised with them from puppyhood. Due to their independent nature they are not especially prone to separation anxiety but if they do become anxious can bark a lot and be quite destructive, and may damage furniture.

Dachshunds have strong characters and are not the best choice if there are young children in a household. If carefully introduced from puppyhood with appropriate training they can be taught to be tolerant, along with proper education of children, but may nip if provoked. The Dachshunds small size means they are not often used as guard dogs, but they are brave and will bark, which can act as a warning. Long-haired Standard and Miniature Dachshunds are often said to be a little more reserved than their smooth and wire-haired relatives.

Trainability

Dachshunds are intelligent but they are also independent minded and can be stubborn, choosing to ignore commands if there is something else more interesting to them. This means that patience is often needed for training and they may not be the most obedient. This can mean that they do not always have the best recall, and may pick up on scents but with appropriate training they can be obedient. Plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep things interesting and consistent training is key to gaining their cooperation and attention. Dachshunds can be somewhat difficult to house train, so establishing a regular routine where they have access to a garden or are walked several times a day is important.

Health

Both Standard and Miniature Dachshunds typically live for 12 or more years. Standard Dachshunds are classed as a Category 1 breed by the UK Kennel Club with no specific points of concern and Miniature Dachshunds are classed as a Category 2 breed with their weight as a point of concern. Despite being fairly long-lived and active dogs, the modern Dachshund can be prone to some health problems. These include:

  • Chondrodystrophy – The Dachshund is a dwarf breed, which is why they have such short legs and this in itself predisposes them to a higher prevalence of back problems. Discs in the spinal column degenerate more rapidly than in other non-chondrodystrophic breeds and this can cause intervertebral disc disease. This can lead to pain and paralysis and may need surgery depending on its severity but not all dogs return to normal and may need to be euthanized. Ensuring Dachshunds are kept at an appropriate lean weight and exercised regularly can help reduce the risk of injury. As can avoiding stairs and stopping them from jumping on and off furniture and always lifting them carefully with two hands to support their back.
  • Eye Problems:
    • Entropion – This is when the eyelid folds inwards and causes irritation to the eye. Eventually the rubbing can cause ulcers which are painful and can affect sight in the long run if not treated appropriately. This condition is congenital.
    • Ectropion – When the eyelids fold outwards. This is more likely to affect the lower eyelid and is a congenital condition.
    • Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome – This condition can affect all types of Dachshund and is thought to be a type of autoimmune disease. Anti-bodies attack the cells in the retina and this can lead to blindness over a short period of time. It usually affects middle aged to older dogs.
  • Heart Disease:
    • Heart Murmurs – Found to affect Wire-Haired Dachshunds. A murmur is when there is an extra heart sound. This is caused by turbulent blood flow and can be caused by several different problems or may also occur in normal hearts.
    • Mitral Valve Disease – This is when blood leaks backwards through the mitral valve in the heart. All types of Dachshund can be affected and although it is not proven when this occurs at a young age it is thought to be inherited. Males are more commonly affected than females. Signs may include less tolerance of exercise, problems breathing or a cough when resting and eventually weakness and collapse.
  • Epilepsy – This is a condition where dogs are affected by recurrent seizures. Frequency and duration of seizures can vary but the condition can be controlled well with anti-seizure medication. It usually occurs between 6 months and 5 years old. Miniature Long-Haired and Wire-Haired Dachshunds are most commonly affected.

The Dachshund Breed Council requires dogs to be DNA tested for the following conditions to be included in the Assured Breeders Scheme:

  • Retinal Degeneration (crd1 PRA) – Also known as Day Blindness NPHP4. There are different types of retinal degeneration but Miniature Dachshunds can suffer from Progressive Retinal Degeneration. This is where cells in retina do not function as they should do or deteriorate, subsequently affecting sight. The severity depends on which genes are affected and this also affects the clinical signs which are seen with the condition. The age at which this occurs can be variable and is thought to be dependent on an additional genetic mutation. All 3 coat types of Miniature Dachshund should be tested.
  • Lafora Disease – This is a form of epilepsy, which is inherited. It usually develops after the age of 5 and causes seizure like episodes. Flashing lights and loud unexpected sounds and movements close to the head can cause episodes. Eventually the disease progresses and causes other signs, such as a loss of coordination, blindness, and dementia. All Miniature Wire-Haired Dachshunds should be DNA tested for this condition as its late onset means that symptoms are likely to emerge after breeding.
  • Distichiasis – This condition is where there are extra eye lashes which grow and cause irritation to the eye, depending on their location they can also cause damage to the cornea and excess tear production. The condition is most common in Miniature Long-Haired Dachshunds and treatment options vary from medical to surgical. Dogs should be DNA tested and should not be bred from if they are affected by the condition.

Although Dachshunds can be active they also enjoy their food and are happy to sleep alongside their owners. It is important they do not become overweight, as apart from putting extra strain on their backs which are already vulnerable due to the fact they are a chondrodystrophic breed, obesity can lead to other health problems, such as diabetes.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Despite their small size and short legs Dachshunds can actually be surprisingly active. As a generalization, the wire and smooth-haired varieties tend to be more energetic than their long-haired counterparts and, simply due to their size and leg length standard, Dachshunds need more exercise than miniature ones. Standard Dachshunds need at least an hour of exercise a day, but are often more than happy if this is longer. Miniature Dachshunds require a little less, around 45 minutes a day, but are also fairly active despite their small size.

Ideally some of this time should be off the lead, but it is not essential. Their small size and medium exercise needs mean that they can live happily in urban areas and apartments if walked or given access to outside space several times a day. Dachshunds, especially the miniature varieties, can be prone to becoming overweight, which puts extra strain on their backs, so it is important that they are kept active enough to maintain a healthy weight.

Grooming

The amount of grooming a Dachshund needs depends on the coat it has. Smooth-Haired varieties require the least, and occasional brushing at home is more than enough to keep the coat in good condition and stop shedding around the house. Wire-Haired Varieties also only require occasional brushing at home and only shed lightly but they may require ‘stripping’ where the older, dead hair is pulled out by a professional groomer once or twice a year to keep their coat in optimum condition. Long-Haired Dachshunds do not necessarily need any professional grooming but they do require regular brushing to stop their fine, longer coat from becoming matted and knotty.

Famous Dachshunds

Some well-known Dachshunds in popular culture include:

  • Sparky from the 3D stop motion animated film Frankenweenie.
  • Adolph from the comic strip Dinglehoofer and His Dog Adolph.
  • Augie Doggie from the Hanna Barbera cartoon.
  • Shelly from the animated film Wiener Dog Internationals
  • The Dachshunds from the animated film the Ugly Dachshund
  • The Dachshund from the film The Lady from Shanghai
  • Blackie from the film Hugo
  • Dinah the Dachshund from the cartoons Pluto the Wonder Dog
  • Buddy from the animated film The Secret Life of Pets
  • Dash the Dachshund who belonged to Queen Victoria
  • Lump the Dachshund who belonged to Pablo Picasso
  • Archie and Amos who belonged to Andy Warhol

Cross-Breeds

There are numerous Dachshund cross breeds but some of the more popular combinations include:

  • Dorkie – Cross between a Dachshund and a Yorkshire Terrier
  • Dameranian – Cross between a Dachshund and a Pomeranian
  • Daimeraner – Cross between a Dachshund and a Weimaraner
  • Dach Russell – Cross between a Dachshund and a Jack Russell Terrier
  • Goldenshund – Cross between a Dachshund and a Golden Retriever
  • Doxle – Cross between a Dachshund and a Beagle
  • Dorgi – Cross between a Dachshund and a Corgi
  • Chiweenie – Cross between a Dachshund and a Chihuahua
  • Miniature Schnoxie – Cross between a Dachshund and a Miniature Schnauzer
  • Dachsation – Cross between a Dachshund and a Dalmation
  • Daxador – Cross between a Dachshund and a Labrador
  • Basschshund – Cross between a Dachshund and a Basset Hound
  • Daug – Cross between a Dachshund and a Pug
  • Bodach – Cross between a Dachshund and a Boston Terrier
  • Docker – Cross between a Dachshund and a Cocker Spaniel

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