Drever

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
 
Photo of adult Drever

The Drever or Swedish Dachsbracke regularly features in the list of Swedish top 20 most popular dog breeds. Best described as a Corgi in Beagle clothing, this distinctive small to medium-sized breed has a history going back a little over a century old.

If the Drever bears a slight similarity of appearance to a Dachshund, that’s because his distant ancestors were indeed a German hounds, the Westphalian Dachsbracke. That long body and short legs being an adaptation to help them track hare and foxes that go to ground when threatened.

A delightful character, Drevers are described as affectionate and sweet. And, the Drever also has a reputation for getting along fine with other dogs and makes a forgiving family companion.

About & History

The Drever breed has been around for about a century. It was created in the early 1900s, when Swedish breeders decided it was time to have a hunting dog that was perfectly adapted to the native terrain and wildlife.

The Westphalian Dachsbracke was imported and bred with local hounds to create the foundation stock. The resulting dog was sufficiently different from the Dachsbracke to warrant recognising it in its own right. This dog was muscular and a little larger than the parent stock, and perfectly adapted to drive game towards the hunter.

In what is perhaps a first for dog breeds, in 1047, the new name was decided by a newspaper contest. The name Drever became official and was recognised by the Swedish Kennel Club.

Appearance

Drever Large Photo
Per Killingmo / Wikipedia.org

To the untrained eye, the Drever might look a little out of proportion with his long back and short legs. However, this physique is not an accident and makes for a sturdy, muscular dog that’s lighter than a Basset Hound but heavier than a Dachshund.

The Drever has an intelligent face with drop ears and a good sized nose. Whilst not the tallest of dogs, he is strong with a long level back that gives him a low centre of gravity and enable him to loupe through deep snow with ease.

The Drever has a short, course coat, which lies flat to the body. He comes in a variety of coat colours, including tricolour, black and white, or brindle. However, he should always have a white paws and white tip on the end of that happy, waggy tail.

Character & Temperament

If dog breeds were named after a trait of their character, then the Drever would be called the 'Waggy tail'. This friendly dog loves people and his tail is never still when in their presence. One of the many reasons for his regular spot amongst Sweden’s top 20 most popular dogs is that he’s gentle, reliable, and loves to play.

This four-legged paragon of a pooch does, however, have some drawbacks. His hunting heritage has gifted him a loud bark, which he isn’t afraid to show off. When excited, or just plain bored, the Drever will remind people he needs attention by raising his voice. He’s also something of a digger, and thinks nothing of spending the afternoon re-landscaping his owner’s garden.

The Drever is also a talented scent hound. He’s an expert at following a scent trail and is prone to be distracted by smells. At times, this can make him conditionally deaf to his owner’s commands, meaning poor recall.

Trainability

In common with many working dogs, the Drever likes to think for himself. But where this can make other dogs difficult to train, the Drever can still be won over. Given his love of people and pleasing them, the Drever responds particularly well to reward-based training methods.

The ideal Drever owner gives firm but fair commands, and is consistent in their expectations. When the Drever understands what’s expected of him, and is correctly motivated to respond, then he is a fun dog to train. Be aware they can be stubborn, so have strategies in place (like, for example, tasty treats), which will help to change the dog’s mind to your way of thinking.

The wise Drever owner addresses the issue of digging from a young age. This is best achieved through providing the dog with an area where he is allowed to dig and putting this action on cue. This gives the dog an outlet for the need to dig, but in an appropriate place where he’s not going to do damage.

As with all dogs, early socialisation as a young puppy helps the Drever reach his full potential as a confident and jolly adult dog.

Health

The Drever is that happiest of dog breeds in that they are not linked to any specific inherited health problems. However, to remain healthy they do need the care of a responsible owner.

Deworming and Parasite Control

To keep a Drever in optimal health, they need regular preventatives against internal parasites. A pet dog (one that is not hunting and regularly eating prey) needs routine worming against roundworms every three months. Those that hunt, scavenge, or have fleas should also be treated with a wormer containing praziquantel that is effective against tapeworms. In addition, speak to your vet about the risks in your area, such as lungworm, heartworm, or whipworms; and then use an appropriate product as advised.

Chat to your vet about the best product to control external parasites, such as fleas, mange mites, or ticks. The latter are especially important because of the risk of tick-borne diseases. Indeed, always check your Drever for ticks at the end of every walk. Prompt removal can prevent the tick transferring disease to the dog.

Diet and Weight Control

Feed a good quality diet that contains named meats in the first three ingredients. Avoid cheaper foods that are bulked up with fermentable vegetable sources of carbohydrate or protein – for example, soy. Whilst these are nutritionally complete, they can lead to gas accumulation and increase the risk of bloat.

Just as important as the quality of the food is the quantity fed. Give too much and the Drever will quickly become overweight. Obesity is linked to a significantly shortened life expectancy and an increased risk of health problems, such as diabetes mellitus, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.

Vaccination

It’s easy to take the benefits of vaccination for granted and assume the diseases vaccinated against are rare or no longer a threat. This is not the case. Not to vaccinate a Drever risks them coming into contact with diseases, such as leptospirosis (spread via rat urine), parvovirus (which can be transferred on shoes) and other viral diseases that pose a significant risk to good health.

Neutering

Neutering a female dog before her second season significantly reduces her risk of mammary cancer and eliminates the chance of getting a life-threatening womb infection (pyometra).

There are no such compelling medical reasons for having a male dog neutered. This is because of the pros and cons in terms of the health argument. For example, neutering a male reduces the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia, but marginally increases the chance of prostatic cancer.

Therefore, neutering a male dog may be decided by the dog’s temperament. An aggressive, overly territorial dog may benefit from neutering, but the Drever is a gentle dog, so this is unlikely to be a problem.

Exercise and Activity Levels

As a working dog, the Drever does have high energy levels and considerable stamina. He does best when paired up with an active family that love outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, or walking. Plan to give a Drever two good walks a day, lasting an hour or more. The Drever is physically small enough in stature to cope with living in an apartment, but ideally, access to a fenced garden or yard is desirable.

Indeed, the scent driven Drever also needs plenty of mental stimulation. Make your Drever happy by using puzzle feeders or laying scent trails for him to follow, as well as engaging in plenty of games and play.

Grooming

Described as a 'Brush and Go' breed, the Drever is not a dog that needs to spend time in the grooming parlous. His short coat is coarse and mud usually dries up and brushes off. Regular bathing is not necessary, except if he gets exceptionally dirty.

As with any dog, get into the habit of brushing the Drever’s teeth once a day in order to keep them plaque free and healthy. Pay careful attention to the length of their nails, and if necessary, increase the amount of pavement work in order to wear them down more.

Famous Drevers

You can indulge in Drever delights on Instagram, but we haven't spotted any truly famous Drevers in the media quite yet.

Cross-Breeds

The Drever is valued for himself (after all, it’s hard to improve on perfection) and not deliberately used as the parent of hybrid dogs.

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