What are Dachshund's like?
Dachshunds are daring and delightful dogs, with more character than you could shake a well-fetch stick at. These dinky dogs are utterly unique in their looks thanks to their sausage-shape but have just as quirky a paw-sonality.
As far as dogs go, Dachshunds are probably the most iconic looking pooches on the planet! Their characteristically long body and little legs might make them seem comical, but these pups are playful and surprisingly energetic.
Believe it or not, they are very much a working, hunting dog despite their pup-ularity as companion pets.
That long back does mean they are prone to a few health problems, but generally, they’re a reasonably healthy and long-lived breed.
Some owners can be surprised at just how much energy these pups have, as well as their high prey drive, and they love to chase and dig at any chance they get. They’re as tenacious as terriers and just as smart too, so they require moderate exercise and mental stimulation to keep these lively little sausage dogs happy.
The Dachshund was accurately summed up by journalist H. L. Mencken when he described Doxies as “half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long”, and they definitely have the bravery and attitude of a big dog despite being so low to the ground. They’re full of character and life, so don’t be fooled into thinking every Dachshund is a docile couch potato.
HOW DO YOU SAY “DACHSHUND”?
Dachshund is a German word and the pronunciation of Dachshund is “Daks-hund”. (Not “Dash-hound”.) The breed is often affectionately known as a “Doxie” too. You could always opt to use the breed nickname and call them a sausage dog or a wiener dog. And just to throw more names at you, they are also nicknamed “Dackel” or “Teckel” in Germany, and some UK owners use these names too, paw-ticularly if they use their dogs for hunting.
WHAT IS A MINIATURE DACHSHUND?
A Miniature Dachshund is just a Dachshund smaller than 5kg in weight, or with a chest circumference of less than 35cm. The miniature Dachshund is not an aesthetic choice or bred to be cuter, it was actually meant to be slightly smaller so they would be suited for hunting rabbits in smaller underground burrows.
WHERE DO DACHSHUNDS COME FROM?
Dachshunds come from Germany and are quite an old breed, with records of them going back at least 600 years. Even back then, they had their characteristic sausage shape and were bred to be brilliant badger hunters.
However, there have been mentions or artworks of short and long dogs that look a bit like Dachshunds even further back in time from elsewhere in the world. There are even pictures of similar looking short-legged, long-bodied dogs in Ancient Egypt! But a bit like a Bratwurst, the definite Dachshund we know and love today is very much a German sausage.
The origins of the Dachshund are unclear, but one theory is that hounds born with dwarfism were deliberately bred together to create smaller dogs with shorter legs. (A similar practice was used to create the Corgi.) It’s believed that Doxies are descended from other breeds of German hunting hounds like the “Bibarhund” (German Pinscher), and were simply selectively bred to create smaller dogs with each passing generation.
WHAT WERE DACHSHUNDS BRED FOR?
Dachshunds might look silly and given their long, low bodies and very short legs it might not seem like they were ever a working dog. But, they were deliberately bred to be low to the ground to be able to do their job! Dachshunds were used to sniff out and hunt badgers, and their name even means “badger dog”.
These dogs are built to track down and flush out badgers from their underground homes, a similar job to the equally small Jack Russell. Dachshunds are great trackers, being used to follow and sniff out all sorts of prey from badgers to boar and deer.
Being close to the ground and having those floppy ears really helps them to pick up scents, since long ears stop smells from drifting past, catching them and wafting the scent particles towards the nose. But, the Doxies size and shape meant they could go into burrows too and flush out any prey that had gone into hiding.
In fact, the different sizes of Dachshund were determined based on how big their chest was and so what tunnels they could fit in and what animals they could pursue! Miniature Dachshunds might be adorable, but they were just as suited to working and their smaller-size was prized because it was paw-fect for hunting rabbits and other small game.
The Dachshunds deep chest is meant to allow them increased lung capacity for going underground and their broad front paws and muscular front legs are ideal for digging. That low, loud bark was also useful for being underground because hunters could hear it from the surface and track their dogs progress.
A Dachshunds jaws are also surprisingly strong since these guys need to be tough enough to take on a badger. To this day, even show dogs must still show a “functional build” and a body strong and supple enough that they could still be used for hunting.
The average stats for a Miniature Dachshund and a Standard Dachshund are:
|Average Height (Withers):||13-18 cm||20-23 cm|
|Average Weight:||<5 kg||7.5-15 kg|
|Lifespan:||12-16 years||12-16 years|
|Coat:||Short or medium length with smooth, long, or wiry hair.||Short or medium length with smooth, long or wiry hair|
FACTS ABOUT DACHSHUNDS
Paw-haps a trait left from their hunting background, Doxies love to dig and burrow. Your pooch might paw-sonally dig up the garden, or settle for burrowing into a bundle of blankets on the couch. It’s why Dachshund owners are advised to always check bundles of blankets, pillows, and clothes before sitting down, just in case your pooch is hidden inside!
PINT-SIZED HUNTING HOUNDS
Although we might think of Doxies as comical companion animals, they are still very much a hunting dog and they are still used as working dogs by some owners. They’re also the smallest dog within the “hound” group.
The first time the Olympic games had their own mascot was in the 1972 Munich games, and they created a colourful Dachshund called “Waldi”. Waldi was meant to embody the traits of both a winning athlete and a prized Doxie, symbolising tenacity, agility, and resistance. Also Dachshunds are decidedly German, and adorable, so why wouldn’t you pick this pup?
FROM HOUNDS TO HOTDOGS
We might call Dachshunds “sausage dogs”, (or “wiener dogs” if you’re American,) because they look like a hot dog wiener. But did you know that “hot dogs” actually got their name from these dogs?
Hot dogs were sometimes called “Dachshund sausages” because they looked like the long dogs. And in 1901 one cartoonist heard a vendor shouting about his “hot dachshund sausages” and couldn’t help but draw a cartoon of the dogs inside buns, which he titled “hot dog”, because he didn’t know how to spell Dachshund. And the rest is history!
Great care must be taken with your Dachshund puppy and you must ensure playtime doesn’t become too boisterous. Their long backs are fragile, and as puppies, the muscles which help to support and stabilise their long spine aren not yet developed, leaving them more vulnerable to injury. Picking your pooch up without supporting their backend is a surefire way to hurt your hound, and even a simple jump or tumble off of the sofa could cause a serious injury.
If you have children in the house, they must be supervised with the dog and taught how to handle them correctly, since they might rough and tumble with the pooch or pick them up improperly and cause the puppy injury.
Socialising your Dachshund puppy early and often is vital to ensure they grow up to have an even temperament. These are generally very even-tempered and affectionate dogs, but they can also be stubborn. They’re also highly alert and can become protective, which means some Dachshunds can be stand-offish with strangers. Usually though, they’re pretty well-mannered little dogs, even if they have an attitude bigger than their bodies.
WHEN ARE DACHSHUNDS FULLY GROWN?
Dachshunds usually reach their adult size at about 10 to 12 months old, and by then all their bones should be fully developed. However, they will still continue to put on weight as their muscles develop.
Dachshunds aren’t fully grown until they are about 18-24 months old, when they finally reach their adult weight. (Make sure they don’t put on too much weight though!) They should mature behaviourally about this time too.
ARE DACHSHUNDS EASY TO TRAIN?
Dachshunds are a double-edged sword in the training department. These dogs are really smart, and pick up training and tricks up without too much trouble. However, they are also intelligent and independent enough to be a bit stubborn, and they might decide they want to do things on their terms.
Given their strong-willed nature, it’s said that Dachshunds aren’t ideal for a novice owner, and training your Doxie might be a game of persistence and patience. These dogs are working dogs at the end of the day, so they are pretty trainable and biddable, paw-ticularly if there’s a tasty treat involved.
A way to a dog’s heart is through their stomach, and Dachshunds are known to be greedy, so healthy treats can often win them over.
Housetraining is said to take longer than average with this breed, but it does seem to vary between individual dogs and what training methods are used. You can find out more about toilet training your puppy here.
DELIGHTFUL DACHSHUND NAMES
Amongst the excitement of welcoming your own wiener dog into the family, finding the paw-fect name for your new pooch is probably the biggest decision you have after you’ve picked out your pup! If you need a helping hand or some inspiration, you can browse these paw-some 1000+ boy dog names and 1000+ girl dog names.
Here in the UK we think of there being two Dachshund sizes, “Standard Dachshunds” and “Miniature Dachshunds”. However, in their homeland of Germany there are actually 3 different sizes.
The biggest of the breed, standard Dachshunds are about 20-23cm tall to their withers, so about a foot tall to the top of their head. Meanwhile, that sausage shape means that they’re about 55-65cm long. Most people classify Standard Dachshunds by weight, and they can be anywhere between 7.5kg to 15kg.
Most people class Miniature Dachshunds by weight, and any dog weighing less than 5kg is classed as “Miniature”. Miniature Dachshunds are usually only 13-18cm tall to their withers.
If you hadn’t noticed, there’s a gap between the sizes of Miniature Dachshunds and Standard Dachshunds. Any dog that falls in between 5-7.5kg is affectionately known as a “Tweenie”, but it is not an official classification.
Although not recognised in the UK or the USA, there is a third standard Dachshund size in Germany known as “kaninchen” or “Rabbit Dachshund”. These little guys can be even smaller than Miniature Dachshunds, and are typically about 15cm tall and weigh between 3.5-5kg, but usually less than 4kg.
Dachshund sizes are also decided by their chest measurement, and this type should have a chest circumference of less than 35cm, usually closer to 30cm. That tiny size means they’re paw-fect for heading into rabbit holes, hence their name.
Dachshunds are pretty unmistakable thanks to their utterly unique appearance, which is where the breeds nickname as a sausage dog comes from. These dogs have a very long body and short legs, giving them their “sausage” appearance. Their body is long and muscular, with a very deep chest, and strong front legs.
Their head is flat between the ears with a moderate, tapered muzzle. Their ears are high-set and floppy, folding forward. They have almond-shaped eyes and defined brows, giving them an energetic and cheerful expression that adds to their cute appeal.
Although all Dachshunds share the unique sausage shape, they can look very different depending on the type of coat they have. Some are “Smooth Haired” with short, smooth fur. There are also “Long Haired” Dachshunds with long, soft, wavy fur. Finally there are “Wire Haired” Dachshunds with rough, wiry fur. Despite how different they all look, they’re all definitely Doxie.
The number of Dachshund colours is immense, and they’re one of the breeds with the most variety of fur colours and patterns possible. Even between the different coat types, there are some colours you’ll only find in a certain type of Dachshund. For example, only a Wire Haired Dachshund can have the “wild boar” colour, but they don’t have any of the cream colours and combinations found in Smooth Haired and Long Haired Dachshunds.
The combined breed standard Dachshund colours for all three coat types are:
|BLACK AND CREAM||BLACK AND CREAM BRINDLE||BLACK BRINDLE||BLACK AND TAN||BLACK AND TAN BRINDLE|
|Black and tan dapple||Black and tan brindle dapple||Chocolate||Chocolate and cream||Chocolate and cream brindle|
|Chocolate and tan||Chocolate and tan brindle||Chocolate dapple||Chocolate dapple and cream||Chocolate dapple and cream brindle|
|Chocolate dapple and tan||Chocolate dapple and tan brindle||Chocolate and tan dapple||Chocolate wild boar||Chocolate wild boar dapple|
|Wild boar||Wild boar dapple||Cream||Cream brindle||Cream brindle dapple|
|Cream dapple||Shaded cream||Red||Red brindle||Red brindle dapple|
|Red dapple||Shaded red||Silver dapple||Silver dapple and cream||Silver dapple and cream brindle|
|Silver dapple and tan||Silver dapple and tan brindle||Brindle||Brindle and tan||Brindle and tan dapple|
|Brindle dapple||Dark brindle||Grey brindle|
Beyond these standard breed colours, there are a further 51 non-standard Dachshund colours, including “piebald” varieties.
There have been “double dapple” Dachshunds bred in the past to have more white markings or to create an all-white dog. A double dapple dog means both their parents have dapple fur. However, this practice is now heavily discouraged and has been excluded from the breed standard.
The reason this breeding practise is discouraged is because double dapple puppies inherit a combination of genes that make them far more likely to suffer hearing loss and vision loss. Many double dapple dogs become blind or deaf, while some are even born with “micro eyes”.
Piebald puppies seem less likely to inherit these problems compared to double dapple dogs, but when compared to other colours they are still at a slightly higher risk. Blue and Isabella coloured dogs are also no longer counted in the breed standard and are under the same scrutiny due to health concerns for future generations of Doxies.
Doxies come in three different coat types, the Smooth-coated Dachshund, the Long Haired Dachshund, and the Wire Haired Dachshund.
Smooth-coated Dachshunds have short fur that lies flat against their bodies. Long Haired Dachshunds have a longer, softer, and slightly wavy coat which includes some adorable feathery ears. Wire Haired Dachshunds have a rough, wiry overcoat and a soft undercoat, which gives them a pretty scruffy appearance and they often have eyebrows and beards.
The different coats were meant for different working terrains. Wire Haired coats protect your pooch from thorns and brambles, while Long Haired dogs are less vulnerable to the cold and can work in chillier conditions.
In general, the Dachshund is a dependable and loyal little dog. Given their working background they have a lot of drive and energy despite their shape, which can surprise pet paw-rents, and it means they are lively and playful pooches.
They bond very closely with their family, and they are often closer to one paw-ticular person, making them very loyal and loving little dogs. Doxies are typically upbeat and intelligent, with very alert minds. That alertness means they make great watchdogs, but it also makes them prone to barking.
There are some downsides to this dependable dog though. Dachshunds are considered “mean” by some people, and most owners will agree these tenacious Teckels are pretty strong-willed and stubborn. These dogs were bred to hunt badgers after all, which are fearsome foes for any animal.
So, these dogs had to be brave enough to delve underground and square up to these tough opponents, so it isn’t a huge shock if they act a bit big for their boots, and show traits one would probably associate more often with a terrier.
Because they are bred to hunt, these dogs do have a high prey drive and are known to readily chase other animals, so be aware if you have any small furries in your home. It’s usually best to keep your Doxie on the lead during walkies to prevent them from tearing off after anything that moves. They can usually live happily with cats though, as long as your Dachshund is introduced to your feline when they are a puppy.
Inherited temperament is tricky to predict, but it’s one reason responsible breeding is required to ensure these dinky dogs don’t inherit back problems or bad attitudes. Most “mean” dogs just aren’t socialised properly though, so puppy socialisation should help your dog to grow up to be a paw-fectly content critter, like the majority of the breed are.
Believe it or not, most Doxie aficionados agree that a Dachshund temperament is very different depending on the type of coat they have. It’s said that Long Haired Dachshunds are more laid-back, gentle, and timid. Meanwhile, Wire Haired dogs are more playful and outgoing, and Short Haired Dachshunds are the most reserved but stubborn.
DO DACHSHUNDS BARK A LOT?
Yes, Dachshunds are notorious for being barkers, but they aren’t yappy. They’ve also got a surprisingly loud and deep bark for their small size, so they sound much bigger than they are. Those big lungs also mean they can seem to bark and bark without needing to stop for breath sometimes!
Dachshunds are very alert and quite protective, so they become self-appointed watchdogs most of the time and will bark to alert you of anyone (or anything) moving around your house.
CAN DACHSHUNDS BE LEFT ALONE?
It can vary a lot on the individual dog, but most Dachshunds don’t like being left alone. They bond closely with their family and can develop separation anxiety, but they aren’t as prone to it compared to other small companion breeds like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Because Dachshunds tend to have a bit of an independent streak, it does mean they can tolerate a bit of alone time. Giving your Doxie plenty of activities to prevent boredom and maybe a visit from a dog walker in the daytime should be more than enough to keep them happy until you’re home.
ARE DACHSHUNDS GOOD FAMILY DOGS?
Dachshunds can make su-paw family pets because they love people and are very loyal. Most Doxies are affectionate, but they aren’t the most cuddly dog and need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and in good condition. They are playful and lively, so they can make fun playmates and generally they are good with children.
It is often advised that Dachshunds are better suited to families with older children just because these dogs cannot be mishandled or they risk injury. Given their independent streak, these dogs aren’t afraid to tell anyone off if they’re not happy so if playtime gets a bit too boisterous the dog might grump.
But as long as children and dogs are supervised and every member of the house knows how to properly handle your sausage dog, your Doxie should be paw-fecty happy with people of all ages around them.
LIVING WITH YOUR DACHSHUNDS
WHERE CAN DACHSHUNDS LIVE?
Dachshunds are adaptable dogs and thanks to their small size, they can live just about anywhere as long as they get plenty of walkies and playtime to keep them fit. Dachshunds make good apartment dogs, but you will need to be aware of their tendency to bark and train them to understand a “quiet” command to avoid pup-setting your neighbours.
HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO DACHSHUNDS NEED?
Despite their small size, Dachshunds need a moderate amount of daily exercise. They are working dogs after all, so they do have a lot of energy and drive that needs a paws-itive outlet. Exercise is also im-paw-tent to prevent them from becoming overweight, and to maintain their muscles to better support and protect their long backs.
The amount of exercise your Dachshund needs will vary depending on their size. Miniature Dachshunds need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, while a Standard Dachshund should have about 60 minutes.
However, many dogs are more than happy to stay out for longer! You could break that up into two 20-30 minute walks per day, with a bit of interactive playtime at home to help keep them fit and fulfilled.
HOW LONG DO DACHSHUNDS LIVE?
Doxies are one of the longest living dog breeds and the average Dachshund lifespan is between 14-20 years. Most Dachshunds live for 12 years at the very least.
WHAT PROBLEMS DO DACHSHUNDS HAVE?
Like many little dogs, Dachshunds are prone to problems like dislocating knees and bad teeth. But given their sausage-shape, they can also have a lot of issues with their spine. Generally, Dachshunds are prone to:
- Back problems
- Hormone disorders
- Eye issues
- Poor oral health
Obesity is one of the most common chronic diseases in dogs today, and Dachshunds are prone to being porky pooches.
Extra weight is detrimental to your dog’s overall health, shortening their lifespan and making them much more likely to suffer from secondary conditions like heart disease and diabetes. (Dachshunds are already somewhat prone to both.) It also puts extra strain on their bones and joints, and can make back problems significantly worse.
The Dachshunds unique shape does mean they are more prone to problems affecting their back. Those long bodies and short legs mean their spines are under a lot of extra strain, and most Doxies will have a problem with their back at some point. The most common amongst back problems is Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).
It’s estimated about ¼ of most Dachshunds will have IVDD at some point. They can inherit this condition, but it can also happen due to age and wear and tear on the spine. It’s a condition that affects the disks in their spine that cushions it, and it can result in problems like slipped discs or even herniated discs.
Dachshunds seem more predisposed to certain hormone-related disorders than other breeds. They are uncommon, but still at a higher rate of incidence in Dachshunds than is average for the doggy population as a whole. These disorders can include diabetes, hypothyroidism, and Cushing’s disease. These can all be effectively managed with healthy diet and medication, but they will be lifelong.
Doxies are prone to some eye problems such as dry eye and cataracts. The big problem they face however is progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) which can lead to sight loss and even blindness. It’s even more common in Miniature Dachshunds, and all minis are meant to be DNA tested before being bred.
Any dog smaller than 10kg is more likely to suffer from dental issues than bigger dogs and so requires a bit more care when it comes to keeping their teeth clean to prevent any problems. It’s simply because of the size of the dog and the fact their teeth are more likely to be overcrowded.
Brushing your Doxie’s teeth will go a long way in preventing any issues and maintaining good oral health, which will improve their overall health. It’s always best to brush regularly and try to prevent periodontal disease, because once it sets in, it becomes a case of management.
GROOMING A DACHSHUND
How to groom your Dachshund will vary depending on the coat type of your Doxie. Smooth coated Dachshunds take less grooming than their Long Haired or Wire Haired cousins, but none of them are paw-ticularly high-maintenance.
If your Dachshund has a smooth coat they will only need brushing once or twice a week to help get rid of any dirt and dead fur from their coat. Their fur won’t need any trimming or clipping either.
Long Haired Dachshunds need a little bit more TLC in the grooming department. Ideally, you should brush them every day or at least every other day to prevent any tangles or mats in their fur, and you might need to trim their hair occasionally to keep it tidy.
Wire Haired Dachshunds are somewhere in the middle, as they need brushing about twice a week with a comb to help strip the dead fur from their coat, but they also do not need to have their fur trimmed or clipped. Instead, they should also go to the groomer 2 to 3 times a year to have their fur stripped, or you could learn to strip their coat yourself.
Regardless of the type of Dachshund you have, they all have similar hygiene needs. Baths should be once every 1 to 3 months. You can wash them more often if they get paw-ticularly smelly or they have rolled in something they shouldn’t have.
You will need to check and clear their ears every few weeks, as well as trimming their claws every few weeks too. No matter the type of Dachshund you have, you will also need to clean their teeth regularly to prevent problems like plaque or cavities. Ideally, you should brush your dog's teeth every few days, if not every day.
DO DACHSHUNDS SHED?
Yes, all Dachshunds shed continually throughout the year regardless of the coat type they have. They aren’t big shedders though, and many owners say they don’t really notice their dog shedding.
All Dachshunds shed continually throughout the year, but Long Haired and Wire Haired Dachshunds shed a little more during the moulting season in spring and autumn as they change from winter to summer coats.
Wire Haired Dachshunds shed less than the other types because of their coarse coat. Just like other Wire Haired breeds such as the Border Terrier, their dead fur doesn’t really fall out of their coat and instead stays there and needs stripping by a groomer every few months.
Dogs will shed more than normal if they are eating a poor quality diet, if they are under stress, or undergoing hormonal changes. Generally, feeding your dog a healthy diet and regularly brushing and bathing your Doxie will help to minimise shedding.
ARE DACHSHUNDS HYPOALLERGENIC?
No, Dachshunds are not counted as a “hypoallergenic” dog breed. However, many Doxie owners agree that their dog is a low shedder, so they might be suitable for mild allergy sufferers. It’s also im-paw-tent to remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and the best thing to do is to spend some time with your favourite breed of dog to see if they upset your allergies.
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