Papshund

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
 
Photo of adult Papshund
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The Papillon and the Dachshund are two instantly recognisable dog breeds. Blend them together, one parent from each breed, and you get the Papshund. Spookily, a typical Papshund is like looking in a fairground mirror, because you can either see a ‘stretch’ Papillon or a Dachshund with big butterfly ears.

Since both parent breeds are small in stature, as you’d expect, the Papshund makes a diminutive companion. But what they lack in size is more than made up for in character. It is especially important this hybrid is well socialised as a pup. Not to do so risks an adult dog that is strong minded with the potential to be mouthy or even aggressive – whereas a well-adjusted Papshund is a delight to be around and makes a great family companion. The Papshund is very much a pet dog rather than a working animal. They need an indoor (some say pampered) lifestyle with plenty of attention and exercise to thrive.

About & History

You might think the creation such as a specific hybrid as the Papshund is well documented, but this is not the case. Whoever came up with the idea of mixing a Papillon with a Dachshund, remains a mystery.

Indeed, rather than ‘when’ was the breed created, it’s wise to think about ‘why’ the Papshund came into being. The main assumption would be for their over-arching cuteness but some people might also point to hybrids being stronger and healthier than the purebreds. Wrong! There is no truth in the myth that hybrid dogs are healthier. Sadly, the laws of genetics have an inbuilt randomness, which means that pups may inherit the worst of each parent and not necessarily the best. Thus, purchasing a hybrid or ‘designer dog’ is no guarantee of good health.

The same general rules apply that each parent should be carefully screened for genetic disease before being bred from. Diluting that dog’s health problems with blood from a different breed is no guarantee of anything.

Getting back to the history of the breed, we do know a lot about the origins of both the Papillon and the Dachshund. The Papillon’s ancestors date back to the 16th century. They are an offshoot of Spanish Toy Spaniels that accompanied traders traveling into France. Those big ears festooned with fur caught attention and they became popular in the French Royal Court.

In contrast, the Dachshund steals a march on the Papillon with their ancestors hailing from 15th century Germany. Back then, they were working dogs and used to flush out and pursue animals, such as badgers, rats, hare, and even wild boar. Indeed, the name Dachshund means 'badger dog'.

Over the years the long, low Dachshund developed into a range of sizes (miniature and standard), along with varying coat types. They are now kept as pets, rather than working dogs, but have never quite lost their independent spirit and that strong prey-drive.

Appearance

If you’re familiar with the appearance of the Papillon and the Dachshund, then it’s not hard to recognise a Papshund. Think of them as a ‘stretch’ Papillon and you won’t go far wrong. While a Papillon has a small foxy face, the Dachshund has a long muzzle, which makes for a dog with a well-developed snout. The ears are large, but unlike the drop ears of a Dachshund, they are most likely to be pricked up and adorned with luxurious fur.

As for their body, this is likely to have the length of the Dachshund, with legs that are short and sturdy. Dachshunds can be long or short-haired, but a long-haired Dachshund crossed with a Papillon makes for a luxurious long-haired dog.

Character & Temperament

Both Papillions and Dachshunds are active, busy little dogs with a keen sense of curiosity. This is reflected in their combined offspring – the Papshund. Described as ‘energetic’, this reflects their mental attitude and need for plenty of stimulation. Whilst they do like to be active, they lack the endurance of other small dogs, such as terriers.

Both Papillons and Dachshunds are small dogs, however, the wise owner expects the same levels of obedience and cooperation as they would from a large breed, such as a Doberman. Not to do so risks a Papshund developing ‘small dog syndrome’, whereby they behave badly because they are allowed to.

It’s also pertinent to remember that the Dachshund has working heritage hunting small mammals. This means they may be inclined to chase other household pets, such as cats and rabbits. This is by no means inevitable, if the pup is socialised well from an early age but should be born in mind when introducing a Papshund into a multi-pet household.

Trainability

The Papillon is an eager to please chap and they respond well to reward-based training. This can soften the Dachshund’s tendency to be strong-willed and independent. But, that said, the Papshund’s trainability, like that of most dogs, depends on patience and dedication on the part of the owner to communicate clearly what they want the dog to do.

Health

Sadly, the Papshund has the potential to inherit health problems from both sides of the family tree. The most common conditions are listed below:

Slipped Discs (Intervertebral Disc Disease)

Both the Dachshund and Papshund share the trait of having a long back, leaving the spine vulnerable to slipped discs. Think of this like a bridge across a wide river, with support on either shore. That bridge is under strain, especially in the middle, and the unsupported section liable to slump or sag.

Similar forces are at work on the dog’s back, putting pressure on the discs between the vertebrae (individual back bones). This can cause the discs to rupture, shooting disc material up into the spinal canal. This compresses the spinal cord and in the worst cases cause paralysis.

Disc disease is extremely painful and can cause life-changing damage to the dog. Once a disc slips, specialist surgeons can remove it, however, this is costly and not without risk. Indeed, taking out pet insurance is strongly advisable for a Papshund, for just this reason.

Wobbly Kneecaps (Patella Luxation)

The kneecap is a fulcrum on which the strong thigh muscles pull each time the dog takes a step. Anatomical quirks, such as bowed leg bones and a shallow groove where the kneecap sits, lead to instability in some cases. This instability causes the kneecap to pop to one side, which then locks the leg in the wrong position. Typically, this shows itself as the dog skipping steps on the affected leg.

Mild cases may only need occasional pain relief. Sadly, the worst cases can be in permanent discomfort and surgical correction of the anatomy is advisable to prevent early onset arthritis from developing.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus (sugar diabetes) refers to a lack of control of blood sugar levels. In the early stages, the signs include thirst and weight loss. This condition can be treated with regular insulin injections, but requires considerable commitment and cost.

Untreated, high blood sugar levels act as a toxin. Mid-stage complications include cataract formation, which prevent the dog from seeing. Even more serious is the risk of ketosis, which poisons the dog and can be fatal.

Eye Disease

Both parent breeds are prone to a number of hereditary eye problems, all of which have the potential to cause blindness. These include cataract formation, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Despite their small size, a Pupshund is no slouch. They do need to be active – both physically and mentally – to bring out the best in them. A small garden is ideal to let the dog run around between walks, whilst a twice daily romp in the park will keep that tail wagging.

It is a mistake to under exercise a Papshund, as they readily gain weight and can become obese. Likewise, not providing mental stimulation, such as play or exercise, can result in bad behaviours, such as antisocial barking, destructiveness or snappiness.

A special note of caution applies to the long back of the Papshund. It’s best to avoid exercise that strains the back, such as jumping from a height or extreme twisting and turning, such as Frisbee catching.

Grooming

The Papshund is likely to have a soft silky coat of moderate hair length. This needs to be kept knot free with regular combing and brushing. However, the hair does fall out once it reaches a certain length, so regular parlour trips for clipping are not required.

Pay special attention to the hair on and around the ears, as this tends to be especially long. Those ear flaps flopping up and down as the dog runs, encourages matts to form, so be sure to check for knots daily.

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