The Dachshund is a short-legged,
elongated dog breed of the hound family. The breed's name is German
and literally means "badger dog" (der Dachs - badger; der Hund -
dog). The breed was developed to scent, chase, hunt, and kill
badgers and other hole-dwelling animals. Due to their long, narrow
build, they are sometimes referred to in the United States and
elsewhere as "wiener dogs" or "sausage dogs".
A full-sized Dachshund averages 12 to 24 lb (5 to 10 kg), while the
Miniature variety typically weighs less than 12 lb (5 kg). Modern
Dachshunds are characterized by their crooked legs, loose skin and
barrel-like chest, attributes that were deliberately added to the
breed to increase their ability to burrow into tight spaces. They
come in three coat varieties: Smooth, Longhaired and Wirehaired; the
Wirehaired variety is generally shorter in spine length than the
other two. H. L. Mencken said that "A dachshund is a half-dog high
and a dog-and-a-half long," which is their main claim to fame.
Dachshunds are loyal, playful dogs, known for their propensity to
chase small animals and birds. According to the American Kennel
Club's breed standards, "the Dachshund is clever, lively and
courageous to the point of rashness, persevering in above and below
ground work, with all the senses well-developed. Any display of
shyness is a serious fault." Coat type is often considered to be
associated with characteristic temperaments; the long-haired
variety, for instance, is considered to be less excitable than the
other types because it was cross-bred with the Spaniel to obtain its
characteristic long coat. Some who own long-haired Dachshunds might
disagree with this statement, however. Because of the breed's
characteristic barrel-like chest, the dachshund's lungs are
unusually large, making for a sonorous bark.
The breed is known to have spinal problems, due in part to an
extremely long spinal column and short rib cage. The risk of injury
can be worsened by obesity, which places greater strain on the
vertebrae. In order to prevent injury, it is recommended that
Dachshunds be discouraged from jumping and taking stairs. It has
become increasingly apparent that the occurrence and severity of
these problems is largely hereditary, and responsible breeders are
working to eliminate this characteristic in the breed.
Some have theorized that the early roots of the Dachshund go back to
Ancient Egypt, where engravings were made featuring short-legged
hunting dogs. But in its modern incarnation, the Dachshund is a
creation of European breeders, and includes elements of German,
French and English hounds and terriers. Dachshunds have been kept by
royal courts all over Europe, including that of Queen Victoria, who
was particularly enamored of the breed.
The first verifiable references to the Dachshund, originally named
the "Tachs Kriecher" (badger crawler) or "Tachs Krieger" (badger
catcher), come from books written in the early 1700s. Prior to that,
there exist references to "badger dogs" and "hole dogs", but these
likely refer to purposes rather than to specific breeds. The
original German Dachshunds were larger than the modern full-size
variety, weighing between 30 and 40 lb (14 to 18 kg), and originally
came in straight-legged and crook-legged varieties (the modern
Dachshund is descended from the latter). Though the breed is famous
for its use in exterminating badgers, Dachshunds were also commonly
used for rabbit and fox hunting, for locating wounded deer, and in
packs were known to hunt game as large as wild boar.
Dominant colors and patterns include Red and Black & Tan. Older
traditional patterns such as piebald and sable are recently gaining
in popularity. Recently, other color and pattern combinations have
been developed; it is not uncommon to see Dachshunds with Brown &
Tan, Chocolate & Tan, dapple, double dapple, and even white coats.
Unfortunately, some of these colors require extensive inbreeding to
obtain; double dapples are often born eyeless or with severely
underdeveloped eyes. For this reason, the double dapple coat is
extremely disfavored among responsible breeders and owners.
According to kennel club standards, the Miniature variety differs
from the full-size only by size and weight.
Symbol of Germany
Dachshunds have traditionally been viewed as a symbol of Germany,
despite their pan-European heritage. During World War I the animals
fell so far out of favor in England and the United States that
dachshunds were stoned to death on the street . Many Americans
began referring to Dachshunds as "liberty pups", and political
cartoonists commonly used the image of the Dachshund to ridicule
Germany. The stigma of the association was revived to a much reduced
extent during World War II, and it quickly faded away following the
war's end. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was also known for
One of the odder controversies that has recently arisen in North
America is the presence of Dachshund racing events.
This sport has its origins from a 1993 Miller Lite television
commercial that listed odd possibilities for sports including luge
bowling, has grown immensely in popularity since, including a
half-time show for the San Francisco 49ers. You can see the
commercial at the "Wiener Takes All" homepage (see external links
While some compare the sport to that of English and later American
Greyhound racing, others see it having the possibility of harming
the breed from strain placed on its spinal column. Others also see
the possibility for abuse of racing Dachshunds, as evidenced by the
large number of Greyhounds put to sleep every year once they have
proven unsuitable for racing, and by those given up for adoption.
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