Although the modern Dachshund was developed in Germany, historians believe that short-legged, long-bodied dogs similar in appearance to the beloved “wiener dog” date all the way back to ancient Egypt. Dachshund-type dogs have been depicted in Egyptian engravings, and a recent discovery even indicates mummification of these pets. The German version of the breed was routinely used for hunting animals that burrowed into holes, such as badgers, rabbits, and foxes. The earliest literary reference to the Dachshund appeared in German books in the late 1700’s, where it was originally named “Dachs Krieger,” meaning “badger warrior.” Original Dachshunds were larger than today’s variety, typically weighing 30 – 40 lbs. However, as badger hunting diminished, Dachshunds began to be bred as pets which led to a systematic size reduction. In the 1870’s a breeding program was started in America, and Dachshunds were recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1895.
Dachshunds have continually been on the list of America’s top 15 most popular dogs largely because of their playful personalities, expressive features, and devotion to their owners. They are a ferocious dog thanks to their badger hunting roots, and often act much larger than they are. Dachshunds can be aggressive towards strangers as well as stubborn, so proper socialization and obedience training from an early age is necessary. Unless extremely well-trained, Dachshunds do not typically get along well with children or other animals. As natural burrowers, many owners delight in the antics of their Dachshunds when they are bored or tired, as they often create unique hiding areas and dwellings around the house.
There are two sizes of Dachshund, miniature and standard, and three coat styles: short-haired, long-haired, and wire-haired. A miniature Dachshund should weigh less than 12 lbs, while a standard Dachshund is between 12 and 16 lbs. Either variety can have any of the three coat types. In the United States, the short-haired (also known as smooth coat) style is most common, while in German the wire-haired Dachshund prevails. There are almost limitless numbers of coat color and marking combinations for this breed, with 12 colors and 3 markings accepted by the American Kennel Club. The Dachshund’s body, while unique, is specifically engineered for its original purpose to hunt burrowing animals. Its long body and short legs allow it to quickly chase after a burrowing badger, while the slightly curled, stubby tail can be used as a handle, should the dog become stuck in a hole and need to be pulled out. Floppy ears keep dirt, grass seed, and other debris from becoming lodged in the ear canal.
The most common health problem among Dachshunds is intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), which affects up to 25% of the breed thanks to their longer-than-average spinal column and short rib cage. Risk factors for developing this disease include obesity, excessive strain, and poor genetics. Other common health problems include thyroid disorders, Cushing’s disease, ocular disorders, epilepsy, and allergies. Potential Dachshund owners should research both the breed and reputable breeders before bringing home a new puppy. However, despite their long list of health issues, most Dachshunds live 12 – 15 years.