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The dachshund is a short-legged, long-bodied dog belonging to the hound family. The standard size dachshund was bred to scent, chase, and flush out badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the miniature dachshund was developed to hunt smaller prey such as rabbits. In the American West they have also been used to hunt prairie dogs.

The Dachshund is curious, clever, lively, affectionate, proud, brave and amusing. Devoted to its family, it can be slightly difficult to train and housebreak, but not impossible. Dachshunds travel well. This little dog needs an owner who understands how to be his pack leader or he will take over the house, and begin to try and tell the owner what to do. If the dog is allowed to take over, many behaviour problems will arise, such as, but not limited to, guarding furniture, separation anxiety, guarding food, toys or other objects, snapping, biting and obsessive barking. It will become unpredictable with children and adults they do not know. If it gets really bad, it may become unpredictable with its owner. They are usually recommended for older, considerate children, simply because most owners do not display proper pack leadership to small dogs, causing moderate to severe protectiveness.


This breed has an instinct to dig. They are generally okay with other pets; however, once again, without proper leadership from their humans, they can be jealous, irritable, obstinate and very quick to bite, sometimes refusing to be handled. If you allow your little dog to take over your house, the dog will try his hardest to keep all of his humans in line. These negative traits are not Dachshund traits, they are small dog syndrome traits (see separate article). Dachshunds that have human leadership along with a daily walk are wonderful family companions with excellent temperaments.

Physical Characteristics

The typical dachshund is long-bodied and muscular, with short, stubby legs. Its front paws are unusually large and paddle-shaped, for extreme digging. One dachshund was known to have dug a 10 metre hole to catch its unsuspecting prey. Long coated dachshunds have a silky coat and short featherings on legs and ears. It has skin that is loose enough not to tear while tunnelling in tight burrows to chase prey. Typically the dachshund will burrow underneath its prey’s burrow, so it can take its prey out by surprise. The dachshund has a deep chest to allow enough lung capacity to keep going when hunting; particularly when burrowing for more than three days straight, which is a fairly regular occurrence for this breed. Its muzzle is long with an increased nose area that absorbs odours.

In the UK the Dachshund comes in six varieties, two sizes – Standards weighing up to 12 kg (26 lbs) and Miniatures ideally weighing 4.5 kg (10 lbs) and no more than 5 kg (11 lbs) – and three coats – Smooth-haired, Long-haired & Wire-haired. Germany is the breed’s home country where sizes are separated not by weight but by chest circumference, with three sizes being based on what size of hole they could enter when going to ground. The smallest german size is called ‘ kaninchen (German for “rabbit”) and weighs 8 lb (3.6 kg) to 11 lb (5.0 kg).

An increasingly common size for family pets falls between the miniature and the standard size, frequently referred to as “tweenies.”

Dachshunds exhibit three coat varieties: smooth coat (short hair), long hair, and wire-hair.Wirehaired is the least commonly seen coat in the US and the UK although it is the most common in Germany, it the most recent coat to appear in breeding standards.

Dachshunds have a wide variety of colours and patterns. They can be single-colored, single-colored with spots (“dappled”-called “merle” in other dog breeds), and single-colored with tan points plus any pattern.

The kennel club accepts Black & Tan, Chocolate & Tan, Chocolate Dapple, Red, Shaded Red and Silver Dapple. Other organisations accept piebald, sable and brindle dachshunds. Solid black and solid chocolate dachshunds occur, and even though dogs with such coloration are often considered handsome, the colours are nonstandard that is, the dogs are frowned upon in the conformation ring in the US and Canada, however as colour is not a bred feature, they can be shown, if not very successfully.

Eye colour is restricted to dark brown in the UK, although blue  (wall) eyes are permissible in Dapple coated individuals. In other countries Dachshunds can have amber, light brown, or green eyes, although usually the darker the eye colour, the better.


Some authorities have theorized that the early roots of the dachshund go back to ancient Egypt, where engravings were made featuring short-legged hunting dogs.Recent discoveries by the American University in Cairo of mummified dachshund-like dogs from ancient Egyptian burial urns may lend credibility to this theory. In its modern incarnation, the dachshund is a creation of German breeders and includes elements of German, French, and English hounds and terriers. Dachshunds were originally bred for hunting badgers by trailing scent.

The first verifiable references to the dachshund, originally named the “Dachs Kriecher” (“badger crawler”) or “Dachs Krieger” (“badger warrior”), came from books written in the early 18th century.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 and 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 and badger-baiting, 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 and wolverine.

The flap-down ears and famous curved tail of the dachshund have deliberately been bred into the dog. In the case of the ears, this is to keep grass seeds, dirt, and other matter from entering.The curved tail is dual-purposed: to be seen more easily in long grass and, in the case of burrowing dachshunds, to help haul the dog out if it becomes stuck in a burrow.

There are several school of thought about the breeds used to produce the oldest type of dachshund, the smooth-haired variety, breeds mentioned by various authorities include; German Shorthaired Pointer,Pinscher,Bracke (a type of bloodhound), Bruno Jura Hound, miniature French pointer, St. Hubert Hound, also a bloodhound, and Basset Hounds, based upon their scent abilities and general appearance.However most generally agree the pinscher was involved extensively.

What can be agreed on, however, is that the short-haired dachshund gave rise to both the long-haired and the wire-haired varieties.

There are two theories about how the standard longhair dachshund came  from the original smooth coated dog. One theory is that by selectively breeding these individual with slightly longer coats animals, other theorise is that  longhair was developed by breeding smooth dachshunds with various spaniels.

The wire-haired dachshund, the last to develop, was created in late 19th century. There is a possibility the wire-haired dachshund was a cross between the smooth dachshund and various hard-coated terriers and wire-haired pinschers, such as the Schnauzer, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the German Wirehaired Pointer, or the Scottish Terrier.


The breed is known to have spinal problems, especially intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), due in part to an extremely long spinal column and short rib cage. The risk of injury may be worsened by obesity, jumping, rough handling, or intense exercise, which place greater strain on the vertebrae. About 20-25% of Dachshunds will develop IVDD.

Treatment consists of combinations of crate confinement and courses of anti-inflammatory medications (steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or chronic pain medications. Serious cases may require surgery to remove the troublesome disk contents.A dog may need the aid of a cart to get around if paralysis occurs.

A new minimally invasive procedure called “percutaneous laser disk ablation” has been developed at the Oklahoma State University Veterinary Hospital.Originally, the procedurewas used in clinical trialsonly on dachshunds that had suffered previous back incidents. Since dachshunds are prone to back issues, the goal is to expand this treatment to dogs in a normal population.

In addition to back problems, the breed is also prone to patellar luxation which is where the kneecap can become dislodged.

In some double dapples, there are varying degrees of vision and hearing loss, including reduced or absent eyes.Not all double dapples have problems with their eyes and/or ears, which may include degrees of hearing loss, full deafness, malformed ears, congenital eye defects, reduced or absent eyes, partial or full blindness, or varying degrees of both vision and hearing problems; but heightened problems can occur due to the genetic process in which two dapple genes cross, particularly in certain breeding lines. Dapple genes, which are dominant genes, are considered “dilution” genes, meaning whatever colour the dog would have originally carried is lightened, or diluted, randomly; two dominant “dilution” genes can cancel each other out, or “cross”, removing all color and producing a white recessive gene, essentially a white mutation. When this happens genetically within the eyes or ears, this white mutation can be lethal to their development, causing hearing or vision problems. Thus usually a dapple is bred to a non-dapple to avoid these problems.

Other dachshund health problems include hereditary epilepsy,granulomatous meningoencephalitis  (nervous system disease), dental issues, Cushing’s syndrome, thyroid problems,various allergies, and various eye conditions including cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy,corneal ulcers, non ulcerative corneal disease, sudden acquired retinal degeneration, and cherry eye. Dachshunds are also 2.5 times more likely than other breeds of dogs to develop patent ductus arteriosus, a congenital heart defect. Dilute colour dogs are very susceptible to Colour Dilution Alopecia, a skin disorder that can result in hair loss and extreme sensitivity to sun. Since the occurrence and severity of these health problems is largely hereditary, breeders are working to eliminate these.