Breed facts: Hound Group
In association with the Kennel Club, Nick Mays provides all you need to know about the Dachshund. Discover if this breed could be your next four-legged best friend.
Dachshunds are one of those iconic, instantly recognisable breeds of dog. Most of us know them as ‘sausage dogs’ or ‘wiener dogs’; they figure largely in popular culture and have that wonderful cartoon-like body shape which endears them to us. Of course, there’s a lot more to Dachshunds than their unique body shape. There are three types – or six if you count the miniature version of the breed. In – er – short, Dachshunds are pretty amazing little dogs!
Dachshund fact Artist Pablo Picasso was inspired in many of his paintings by his own Dachshund called Lump.
Put simply, Dachshunds are short-legged members of the hound group with elongated bodies. Their shape and size were developed by breeders for hunting, ostensibly to scent out, chase and flush badgers and foxes, while the miniature versions were used to flush smaller ground- and burrowdwelling game such as rabbits and hares. Some breed experts believe that a version of the Dachshund was developed as long ago as the time of the ancient Egyptians, as a number of engravings and friezes depict short-legged hunting dogs resembling the breed being worked in hunts. Indeed, there have been recent discoveries of mummified Dachshundlike hunting dogs placed in Egyptian burial urns. This, of course, indicates that the ancient Egyptians knew the art of dog breeding, especially for working breeds, and shows how there is nothing new under the sun.
The modern Dachshund was developed in Germany in as early as the 18th century, as references to a dog known as the ‘Dachs Krieger’ (badger warrior) indicate a dog of this type being used for hunting. However, this breed was substantially larger than the breeds we know today and was used more in packs to tackle and bait large game such as boar and foxes. The later breed development of the Dachshund (badger dog) indicates that the breed was created during the 18th and 19th centuries by crossing other breeds such as the German Shorthaired Pointer, Pinschers and an old breed type of Bloodhound. Other experts believe that the mix included the St Hubert Hound (a Bloodhound type) and even Basset Hounds, which were used for their versatility and excellent scenting abilities. During this time the different coat types – smooth, wire and long – were developed, and then miniature versions of each. Again, other breeds may been instrumental in the creation of these coat types, but certainly by the late 19th century the Dachshund as we know it was an established breed. Dachshunds gained popularity outside of Germany, although more as show dogs than working dogs (although a fair number are still worked even today).
Sadly, the two World Wars diminished the Dachshund’s popularity in the UK and America, as anything German was seen to be as unpatriotic, but a handful of breeders persisted in keeping and breeding Dachshunds until the breed had recovered in popularity by the 1960s. In 2008, the KC recorded a total of 5,640 Dachshund breed registrations, making the breed an extremely popular choice among enthusiasts and pet owners. However, each coat and body type are registered separately, thus preventing the Dachshund as a complete breed reaching the top 20 breed registrations. Miniature Smooth-haired Dachshunds are the most popular type with no fewer than 2,566 registrations in 2008, with the Miniature Longhaired coming in second with 1,274 registrations. Dackel or Teckel? In Germany, working Dachshunds are widely classed as Dackel or Teckel, depending on their proficiency in the field. To be classified as a full Teckel, these dogs must undergo blood tracking tests.
Traditionally, any dog of Dackel heritage is given an official tattoo on one ear. After suitable training, the dog must then follow a blood trail – that is at least 48 hours old – successfully to its conclusion without faults. Once this is completed, another tattoo is marked on the dog’s other ear to denote full Teckel rank. Teckel, whether tattooed or not, are bred for hunting purposes.
Dachshunds are very intelligent dogs and have a highly developed sense of playfulness, but this can also translate to stubbornness. However, with careful, concentrated and consistent training, they will soon learn to do as they are told and adapt quite readily to their place in their ‘pack’. They do have a tendency to want to chase small animals and birds, but again can be trained to accept other pets, especially if introduced to them at an early age. Many owners and trainers attest to the fact that of all dog breeds, Dachshunds can be somewhat difficult to house train so, again, patience and consistency are needed in getting the point over. Once taught, though, they are very clean dogs. Anne Moore, secretary of The Dachshund Club of UK, says: “Dachshunds crave companionship and do not like being left alone for long periods, which can lead to separation anxiety, typified by depressive or destructive behaviour. They can be quite vocal with a loud bark, which of course makes them good watchdogs, though they need proper training to ensure that they don’t become ‘serial barkers’ as this can be a nuisance to the neighbours!”
Dachshunds are extremely loyal to their families and can be great companions for children. However, children have to be trained how to care for and handle the dogs. Anne Moore adds: “Dachshunds can be wary of other dogs and people that they do not know, and are prepared to stand up to much larger dogs that they perceive as a threat. Once assured that there are no hostile intentions towards them, they readily accept their new friend.”
5 Dachshund facts
Ideal weight: 9-12kg (20- 26 lbs). Miniature ideal weight: 4.5kg (10lbs). Desired maximum weight 5kg (11lbs). Exhibits which appear thin and undernourished should be severely penalised.
Smooth-haired Dachshunds should be groomed with a rubber glove once a week to remove dead hairs. This breed does not shed and trimming is not required. Wirehaired Dachshunds may require professional grooming, as the coat needs greater attention than other types. They need their coats stripped two or three times a year, while their furnishing (longer hairs) should be combed out at least once a week. They will need the occasional trimming. It is best to let an experienced groomer hand-strip the coat, although owners may learn how to do so with practice. However, the coat must be plucked or stripped and not clipped, as this will ruin its texture. Minimal trimming is required on the face, and they shed moderately. Longhaired Dachshunds need brushing and combing at least once a week. The extra hair between their foot pads should be trimmed as required. Special attention should be paid to keeping their ears clean. They may require professional grooming; however, shedding is minimal.
Dachshunds have healthy appetites and aren’t fussy eaters; in fact, care must be taken not to let them indulge their natural appetites too much! They need a wellbalanced diet which gives them maximum energy and satisfaction. Breeders will be happy to advise prospective purchasers as to the best diet for their dogs, but mostly plain food suits their digestion, such a good medium-protein content complete meal and raw beef tripe or chicken. It is recommended that adult Dachshunds are fed two small meals a day.
Dachshunds are generally healthy dogs, and have few hereditary diseases that affect them. The most common health problem the breed suffers from is that of intervertebral disc disease, which affects the Dachshund’s spine. However, in less severe cases, there is a possibility of recovery through veterinary drugs and complete rest. Surgery is an option in more severe cases, although this will, of course, be on your vet’s advice. Overweight Dachshunds are more prone to this disease. Other health problems may include hereditary epilepsy, Cushing’s syndrome and progressive retinal atrophy. However, breeders are working to eliminate these problems, largely in conjunction with the KC/Animal Health Trust health schemes.
The average lifespan is around nine to 15 years.
Dachshund Rescue is an organisation initiated by The Dachshund Club and the Longhaired Dachshund Club, and is run by enthusiasts who are committed to rehoming any Dachshund in need. There are many reasons why these dogs are available – some may be a victim of a divorce, others could have survived beyond their owners, and some may have been in unsuitable homes.
Dachshund Rescue says: “While we are always pleased to hear from people willing to give a rescue Dachshund a home, the current waiting time is approximately six to 12 months. We are very fortunate to be in this position. We hardly ever get puppies or young dogs; they come to us usually from four years upwards, due usually to domestic crisis such as death, divorce or older people being ill or taken into care. “Any dog coming into rescue in need of veterinary attention receives this before rehoming. However, we are always pleased to talk to prospective owners and add you to our waiting list.” If you would like to offer a rescue Dachshund a home, please contact:
Gillian Goad (South of England), tel. 01458 850745.
Valerie Skinner (North of England), tel. 01142 847425.
Elizabeth Fulton (Scotland), tel. 01417 752187.
Steve Williams (Wales), tel. 01989 762883.
Dachshund fact English artist David Hockney immortalised his Dachshunds Stanley and Boodgie in many paintings and featured them in his own dog art book.
The UK Kennel Club (KC) soon recognised the breed and The Dachshund Club of the UK was founded in 1881 and continues today, with several regional breed clubs having been established in its wake. The first Dachshunds were imported into the USA in 1887 and were soon ranked among the 10 most popular dog breeds stateside.
KENNEL CLUB BREED STANDARD Thinking of getting a Dachshund? Here’s what to look out for:
A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website (www.thekennelclub.org.uk) for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure.
Moderately long and low with no exaggeration, compact, well muscled body, with enough ground clearance to allow free movement. Heights at the withers should be half the length of the body, measured from breastbone to the rear of thigh. Bold, defiant carriage of head and intelligent expression.
Intelligent, lively, courageous to the point of rashness, obedient. Especially suited to going to ground because of low build, very strong forequarters and forelegs. Long, strong jaw, and immense power of bite and hold. Excellent nose, persevering hunter and tracker. Essential that functional build is retained to ensure working ability.
Faithful, versatile and good tempered.
Head & skull
Long, appearing conical when seen from above; from side tapering uniformly to tip of nose. Skull only slightly arched. Neither too broad nor too narrow, sloping gradually without prominent stop into slightly arched muzzle. Length from tip of nose to eyes equal to length from eyes to occiput. In wirehaired, particularly, ridges over eyes strongly prominent, giving appearance of slightly broader skull. Lips well stretched, neatly covering lower jaw. Strong jaw bones not too square or snipy, but opening wide.
Medium size, almond-shaped, set obliquely. Dark except in chocolates, where they can be lighter. In dapples one or both ‘wall’ eyes permissible.
Set high, and not too far forward. Broad, of moderate length, and well rounded (not pointed or folded). Forward edge touching cheek. Mobile, and when at attention back of ear directed forward and outward.
Teeth strongly developed, powerful canine teeth fitting closely. Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite (upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws). Complete dentition important.
Long, muscular, clean with no dewlap, slightly arched, running in graceful lines into shoulders, carried proudly forward.
Shoulder blades long, broad, and placed firmly and obliquely (45 degrees to the horizontal) upon very robust rib cage. Upper arm the same length as shoulder blade, set at 90 degrees to it, very strong, and covered with hard, supple muscles. Upper arm lies close to ribs, but able to move freely. Forearm short and strong in bone, inclining slightly inwards; when seen in profile moderately straight, must not bend forward or knuckle over, which indicates unsoundness. Correctly placed foreleg should cover the lowest point of the keel (rounded outline of the lower chest).
Moderately long and full muscled. Sloping shoulders, back reasonably level, blending harmoniously between withers and slightly arched loin. Loin short and strong. Breastbone strong, and so prominent that a depression appears on either side of it in front. When viewed from front, thorax full and oval; when viewed from side or above, full volumed, so allowing by its ample capacity complete development of heart and lungs. Well ribbed up, underline gradually merging into line of abdomen. Body sufficiently clear of ground to allow free movement. Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
Rump full, broad and strong, pliant muscles. Croup long, full, robustly muscled, only slightly sloping towards tail. Pelvis strong, set obliquely and not too short. Upper thigh set at right angles to pelvis, strong and of good length. Lower thigh short, set at right angles to upper thigh and well muscled. Legs when seen from behind set well apart, straight, and parallel.
Front feet full, broad, deep, close knit, straight or very slightly turned out. Hindfeet smaller and narrower. Toes close together, with a decided arch to each toe, strong regularly placed nails, thick and firm pads. Dog must stand true (equally on all parts of the foot).
Continues line of spine, but slightly curved, without kinks or twists, not carried too high, or touching ground when at rest.
Gait & movement
Should be free and flowing. Stride should be long, with the drive coming from the hindquarters when viewed from the side. Viewed from in front or behind, the legs and feet should move parallel to each other with the distance apart being the width of the shoulder and hip joints respectively.
Smooth-haired: dense, short and smooth. Hair on underside of tail coarse in texture. Skin loose and supple, but fitting closely all over without dewlap and little or no wrinkle. Longhaired: soft and straight, or only slightly waved; longest under neck, on underparts of body, and behind legs, where it forms abundant feathering, and on tail where it forms a flag. Outside of ears well feathered. Coat flat, and not obscuring outline. Too much hair on feet undesirable. Wirehaired: with exception of jaw, eyebrows, chin and ears, the whole body should be covered with a short, straight, harsh coat with dense undercoat, beard on the chin, eyebrows bushy, but hair on ears almost smooth. Legs and feet well but neatly furnished with harsh coat.
All colours permitted but no white permissible, save for a small patch on chest which is permitted but not desirable. The dapple pattern is expressed as lighter coloured areas contrasting with the darker base. Neither the light nor the dark colour should predominate. Double dapple (where varying amounts of white occurs all over the body in addition to the dapple pattern) is unacceptable. Nose and nails black in all colours except chocolate/tan and chocolate/dapple where they are brown.
Any departure from the foregoing points, including desired body condition, should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Where to get a Dachshund puppy
It is always best to contact the breed clubs to enquire whether any members have puppies in your area. If you go to a breeder recommended by a club, you can meet the puppies with their mother – which is always recommended – and ask advice on selecting the ideal puppy for you from experts within the breed. These breeders will also abide by their breed club’s code of ethics. It’s also useful to join a breed club, even if you don’t want to show your Dachshund, as you will maintain contact with other owners and there will always be an experienced owner or breeder on hand to ask for help if you encounter any problems with your dog, such as feeding, training and general care.
Expect to pay… between £500 and £1,000 for a Dachshund, depending on which coat type and size it is, and whether it is pet or show quality. A show puppy can never be guaranteed until he has been in the ring and won prizes. A reputable breeder will not sell a show puppy, but one with potential. Expect
Dachshund fact Schultzie the Dachshund was charged with digging an escape tunnel from the dog pound in the classic animated Disney movie Lady and the Tramp.
The Dachshund Club of UK Anne Moore (secretary), tel. 01530 271796.
The Dachshund Club of Wales Mrs J I Armstrong (secretary), tel. 01639 884082.
Scottish Dachshund Club Mrs Edna Cooper (secretary), tel. 01912 500017.
Miniature Dachshund Club Mrs Dawn Norton (secretary), tel. 01939 250210.
The Smooth Haired Dachshund Club Miss Claire Bethel (secretary), tel. 01614 377457 or 07786 966073.
The Wirehaired Dachshund Club Mr Philip Robinson (secretary), tel: 01752 216331.
The Longhaired Dachshund Club Mr Trevor Watkins (secretary), tel. 01953 498642.
Did you know? Andy Warhol owned a pair of Dachshunds, Archie and Amos, whom he depicted in his paintings and mentioned frequently in his diaries.
About the author Nick Mays is a journalist specialising in animal media. He lives in Yorkshire with his family and four dogs. Nick is also the author of several books on animal care.