Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Apple #122: Dachshunds

When I was growing up, my family had two dachshunds, first one who lived to be 16 and then another who lived to be almost 17. Because the first dachshund was in the house when I was born, I always sort of took them for granted, in a way. I put links to pictures of dachshunds up here before, but I thought it might also be nice to learn a few things about them.

  • Dachshunds were bred in Germany over the course of several hundred years for their particular long, low shape to make them good at hunting badgers. The word "dachshund" means "badger hound," or "badger dog."
  • Not only did their shape make it easy for them to burrow into a badger hole, the dogs were also bred for their tenacity and strength, essential if one is planning to engage in a fight with so notoriously stubborn an animal as a badger.
  • Dachshunds have also been used to hunt other animals such as foxes, rabbits, and even wild boars.
  • As most dachshund owners will attest, the dogs retain their feistiness today and may get in quarrels with dogs much larger than they are. As our vet once said, "Dachshunds have no idea that they're smaller than anybody else."
  • They are generally chipper, curious, and companionable. They like going for walks very much.

This dachshund is named Kevin. He keeps a blog about dogs in London.

  • The first dachshunds were brought to the US in 1887. By 1914, they were in the top 10 most popular entries in the Westminster Kennel Club Show.
  • When World War I hit, however, people were suspicious of anything German, and this included dachshunds and dachshund owners. Some dogs were even the victims of stonings. After the War, people came to their senses, fortunately, and the dogs have grown in popularity ever since.
  • Dachshunds may have one of three types of fur:
    • Smooth coat -- short, sleek fur, most typically pictured on greeting cards and the like
    • Longhaired -- soft, silky, wavy at the ends, the fur is longer especially under the body, from the ears, and from the tail. These types of dachshunds are generally considered to be more docile. In my own limited experience, this was the case.
    • Wirehaired -- coat is more similar to the smooth coat, except fur is coarser, thicker, and rougher.
  • Dachshund fur tends to take one of three color schemes: uniform reddish-brown color, uniform black, or reddish-brown with an overlay of black. Less often, dachshunds may be blue-black, cream, or dappled.

Smooth-haired Dexter, Willy, Pepper and Del, from people's eye view. All were adopted or rescued (see Modern Pooch).
  • Dachshunds come in two sizes, Standard and Miniature. Miniature varieties weigh less than 11 pounds, and Standards weigh over that, usually around 20 pounds.
  • In Germany, an additional category is used, called Kaninchenteckel, or rabbit dachshund. German breeders measure chest circumference as a means of determining type of dachshund, and this particular type's chest should not exceed 11.8 inches.
  • Because of the dachshund's long back, it is important to make sure a dachshund does not get overweight. Extra pounds can create a precarious sag between the stout but far-apart front and back legs. The undue strain on the dachshund's back can lead to back pain, slipped discs, even paralysis.
  • For the same reason, it's also important to keep your dachshund from jumping onto high places (which is most furniture, especially for miniatures). And when you pick up a dachshund, be sure to support its back.
  • Dachshunds will bond well with people, especially if they are socialized at a young age. They don't yip a lot, though they may have a neighborhood nemesis such as the postal carrier or the garbage collector.

  • They're fairly easy to housebreak and to train, or at least it seemed pretty easy for my mom to teach our dogs to do tricks or not to do Other Things.
  • Since dachshunds were bred to be hunting dogs, they might want to do things like go investigate Very Interesting Smells, or roll in stinky smells to disguise their own odor, or try to bury toy bones under the extension cords in the house. But in my experience, they don't tend to chew up your stuff or cause other damage to the house, the way some other breeds do.
  • Gergweis, Germany, has been dubbed the Dachshund Capital of the World. Here, dachshunds outnumber people 2 to 1. Tourists can rent the dogs by the hour to take them for walks.
  • Recently, the popularity of dachshunds has taken on a new form: Dachshund racing. Most breeding clubs oppose these races, due to the breed's predisposition to back problems, and also for fear that the same thing will happen to dachshunds as has happened to greyhounds.
If you're thinking of adopting a dachshund into your home, check out the Dachshund Rescue Web Page, which helps to find homes for dachshunds in need.

Dachshund Rescue Web Page, Dachshund Information
Steven Michelson, Dachshunds
Breeds of Dogs, Dachshunds
Wikipedia, Dachshund and Dachshund racing


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Excellent short review. As a 4th generation owner, I agree with the statements about their character and the advices for their care. One problem is, how to keep them slim: they will eat until they can't reach the floor with their legs, if given the opportunity.

  3. We fed our dachshunds twice a day, once in the morning and once again around our dinnertime. Nothing in the food bowl at any other time. Of course we gave them Milk Bones and other treats occasionally. But we never had any problem with our dogs being overweight.

  4. I have 2 dachshunds and they are very loveable, but I have to disagree with them not chewing up stuff. They have destroyed everything they possible could even a section of my siding. People say that they are bored but I find that difficult to beleive when I have 3 kids that are always in the yard with them and they have a large yard to run around in. Any helpful hints to avoid they destructive behavior would be great appreciated. Even bedding for them is destroyed non stop. I have never had a pillow/carpet/blanket last more then a day with out holes or being shreadded.

  5. Yup, Anonymous, your dogs are bored. Just because YOU'RE not bored doesn't mean your dogs aren't!

    Dogs need to be taken for walks, not just allowed to run around in the yard. Walks will exercise your dachshunds for a specific, extended period of time rather than just letting them run here & there in short bursts. Walking is especially important for dachshunds because this will help keep them from getting fat and putting extra strain on their backs!

    Any dog likes to feel challenged and useful, the same as we humans do. Our dachshunds had a good sense of smell and sometimes we used to play hide & seek with them. We hid small Milk Bones in various places around the house and then let Goldie go sniff them out. She was smart enough to find them all and she happily munched up the Milk Bones as she found each one. She loved this game! This is only one idea, but the point is if you play games that allow your dogs to do things they're good at -- fetch, for example -- within a set of rules, they'll feel more stimulated and happier.

    Finally, give your dachshunds something they are ALLOWED to chew on. When they chew on something you don't want them to eat (your shoe, for example), take away the shoe and replace it with the thing they can chew on. We used to tie a knot in an old sock and play tug of war with Dudley using the sock. It didn't take long before Dudley knew that only a sock with a knot tied in it was OK to chew on.

    Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, has a ton of great tips about disciplining dogs. He has more to say about chew toys for dogs:

  6. To anonymous, when I had my wenners, I would give them raw hide bones to chew on. Sometimes they would chew on them until their gums would bleed, but I never had a problem with them chewing up anything else. The only problem with the raw hide is sometimes I would walk through the house and step on a soggy piece. yuck. But both of them loved them. Give it a try, much cheaper then having your sideing chewed on.

  7. The downside to those rawhide bones is they give every dog I've even known terrible gas. I mean, ten times worse than usual.

  8. I am thinking of getting a standard dachshund, so I am intrested about other peoples info about this type of dog.

  9. You don't know your Dachshunds very well do you ?
    Dachshunds are noisey barkers and whiners, they chew up everything and are head headed and stubborn. I have a Dachshund and I will never get another one.

    1. This all depends on how raise them if you got him/her as a puppy. If not it depends on how they were raised before you got the dog. My weenie has never chewed anything of mine, only barks at strangers and no longer whines... He did as a puppy but I had him trained not to do it add I lived in an apartment and so now he no longer does that either.
      Additionally, he will spot and stay when commanded, so although they can be hard headed you can train then that you're the master & they will be a pleasant, obedient, lovable pet. If you don't train your dog right it won't matter what kind of dog you get..a dog's behavior is a reflection on the owner's training.

  10. Um, apparently you didn't read the entry. I grew up with two of them. Yes, they can be stubborn. But as with any breed, those other undesirable behaviors can be corrected.

    1. Hello, I travelled to Gergweis, Germany two days ago and there is not one dachshund there anymore it was about 20 years ago that they stopped breeding them, I was very sad not to find ay wieners here!


If you're a spammer, there's no point posting a comment. It will automatically get filtered out or deleted. Comments from real people, however, are always very welcome!