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Sausage dog, weenie, wiener dog, doxie… These are all common, funny monikers for Dachshunds, pronounced “ducks-hunds”. Their short legs and long body give them a unique and adorable silhouette that most people easily recognize.
With their bright eyes and playful personalities, Dachshunds are very popular pets. They’re known for being energetic, courageous, and incredibly loyal to their owners. They also tend to get along well with children and cats, provided they have been socialized properly.¹
Originally bred for hunting, Dachshunds' long, stout bodies are perfect for cornering ground-dwelling animals in burrows. They were primarily used for hunting badgers. In fact, their name is German for badger dog — dachs meaning “badger” and hund meaning “dog.” Nowadays, they are still used for small-game hunting and they also make great family pets, as well as prime show dogs.²
Proper training is key, as Dachshunds can be very vocal and territorial, especially when interacting with strangers. This breed of dog can bring limitless joy and are often great apartment dogs, too. In this post we’ll tell you more about their history, characteristics, health risks, and care tips!
- History & Origin of Dachshunds
- Physical Attributes of the Dachshund
- Behavioral Characteristics of Dachshunds
- Dachshund Health Risks
- Caring for a Dachshund
- Final Notes
History & Origin of Dachshunds
Dachshunds are specialized hunting dogs that can be traced back to Middle Europe. The earliest mention of this type of breed was in 16th-century German hunting literature, where they were referred to as “Teckel” or “tracking dog.” They were particularly useful for hunting badgers, but were also used in packs to hunt foxes, wild boar, and deer. Their clever, loyal personalities worked well with humans, as they could be relied upon to efficiently capture their targets, as well as consistently alert hunters whenever a potential catch was nearby.³
By the 17th century, the breed officially became known as the Dachshund and by 1848, people had started breeding them specifically. As a result of this specialized breeding, three different types of Dachshund emerged: smooth or short-haired, long-haired, and wire-haired.
The short-haired type was a result of crossbreeding with French Pointers and Pinschers, while the long-haired type came from breeding with Spaniels. Wire-haired Dachshunds were the last type to emerge and were a result of breeding with Schnauzers, Scotch Terriers, and English Dandie Dinmont Terriers.³
They were also bred in two different sizes: standard and miniature. Germany officially registered the breed in 1879 and in 1888, the very first Dachshund breed club (for short-haired Dachshunds only) was established in England. Over the next few decades, the breed became increasingly popular in both Europe and the United States. By 1931, the American Kennel Club (AKC) had officially registered all 3 types of Dachshund.³
Physical Attributes of the Dachshund
This energetic, little breed has a lifespan between 12 and 16 years and is well-known for their long bodies and short legs, making them stand low to the ground. They have a robust, muscular structure with elastic skin that doesn’t wrinkle easily.
Despite their short stature, Dachshunds often move in a well-balanced fashion with a longer snout and wide, alert eyes. They have a loud bark and a keen sense of smell to go along with their innate hunting abilities. Their short build gives them an advantage over other breeds when it comes to below ground hunting. They come in a variety of colors, such as red, brindle, black, chocolate, gray, and fawn, but can also be bicolored or multicolored.³
This breed has three different types of coat: short-haired, long-haired, and wire-haired, all of which come in normal and miniature sizes. Standard-sized Dachshunds typically weigh 16-32 pounds, while the miniature ones weigh 11 pounds or less. Short-haired Dachshunds have a short, sleek coat that only requires minimal brushing and repels water fairly easily. Long-haired Dachshunds, on the other hand, need more brushing to prevent tangles and matting, particularly around their ears and legs. Wire-haired types need their chin hairs brushed from time to time.⁴
Behavioral Characteristics of Dachshunds
Generally, Dachshunds tend to be bold, energetic, and outgoing. They are typically very loyal to their owners with a calm, even temperament. They can be fearful of other dogs, so it’s important that they are socialized from a young age. This will help familiarize them with being around other (often bigger) dogs, which can help prevent this fear.5
Despite their small size, Dachshunds tend to have quite a loud bark and they can be persistent barkers, too. Consistent training may be necessary to make sure that barking behavior does not become a constant problem. However, every dog is different, so these characteristics may not apply to every Dachshund. Some might suffer more from separation anxiety, for example. A dog’s personal history can greatly influence their personalities, so it’s important to consider this if your Dachshund exhibits behaviors that may seem inconsistent with the breed in general.6
Today, Dachshunds are not typically categorized as a working breed, even though they were originally bred to hunt. They often do well as family pets. The wire-haired type is often the most active and extroverted of the three varieties, while short-haired Dachshunds tend to be calmer and more suited to households in which they are the only dog. However, as a breed, these fierce little dogs are generally sociable. Miniature Dachshunds of any coat type require the least amount of activity, so they are a great choice for someone who is less active or lives in a small space, but still wants a loyal, affectionate companion.7
Dachshund Health Risks
Dachshunds are susceptible to certain breed-specific illnesses. Always make sure to buy a Dachshund puppy from a responsible breeder to reduce the likelihood of health problems.
Due to their stout bodies, Dachshunds are at risk for developing back problems, such as Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), which is similar to a “slipped disc” in humans. Each vertebrae of the spine has an intervertebral (spinal) disc, which consists of a softer, gelatinous center and a tough, protective outer layer. IVDD is when the soft part of one or more discs becomes calcified and brittle. If it ruptures, the calcified material can enter the spinal canal, causing pressure and significant pain. This disorder is more commonly seen in dogs with shorter legs, like Dachshunds, but can occur in any breed.8
Vets classify IVDD as a neurosurgical disorder, occurring most often in a dog’s neck, as well as the lower back. Excessive pressure on the spinal cord from a ruptured disc can prevent brain signals from properly being transmitted to the spinal neurons, causing the legs to stop working properly. An upper slipped disc usually affects all four legs, while a lower slipped disc might just affect the hind legs. The intensity of pain depends on how severe the rupture is. The more forcefully a disc ruptures, the higher the chance of extreme pain and even paralysis.8
Symptoms of IVDD include:
- Abnormal or difficulty walking
- Weakened reflexes
- Inability to stand
- Knuckling the paws (comparable to when we clench our fists)
- Numbness or paralysis in the legs and toes
Suspected IVDD can be diagnosed with an MRI or a CT scan. Consult your vet if you notice that your Dachshund is walking abnormally or seems to be in pain, as this can indicate IVDD or a similar condition.¹
Aside from back issues, Dachshunds can suffer from gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Dental issues are also common in this breed, including overcrowded teeth and gum disease. Adult Dachshunds should have their teeth brushed regularly. If left untreated, dental diseases can lead to gum disease, tooth loss, heart, liver, and kidney problems.¹
Older Dachshunds are at risk of developing Cushing’s disease, which is a hormone imbalance as a result of a problem with the adrenal or pituitary glands. Symptoms of this illness are:
- Increased urination/defecation
- Excessive thirst
- Pot belly
- Fragile skin that heals slowly
Cushing’s disease has no cure, but can be managed with medication.
Skin disorders are common in Dachshunds, too. Anything from allergies to bacterial, fungal, or yeast-based skin infections (including ringworm) can cause chronic skin problems for this breed. Luckily, skin issues usually aren’t serious and will often clear up with the right treatment.¹
Caring for a Dachshund
Although they are often loyal and affectionate, Dachshunds can also be quite stubborn, therefore, it’s important to start consistent, training from an early age. Positive, reward-based training with clear boundaries is the best training method with a Dachshund.9
Even though they are a small breed, Dachshunds are highly energetic and need at least 1 hour of exercise per day or 30 minutes if you have a miniature type. However, don’t overdo it if your pup is still growing, as this can cause injury. Jumping can also cause damage to their back. They thrive on mental stimulation, especially because they have a keen sense of smell. Try doing scent or puzzle games to keep their minds engaged.9 Dachshunds may also excel in dog sports like barn hunt or scent games.
The amount of grooming required depends on the variety of Dachshund. Long-haired types need to be brushed a few times per week to prevent matting, especially after long walks in case something has gotten stuck in their fur. Wire-haired types need to be brushed once per week, particularly on their chin hair. Occasionally, professional grooming may be necessary to keep their coat neat. Short-haired Dachshunds just need a quick brush to remove stray hairs and a more thorough grooming about once per month.9
Since Dachshunds are a small breed, their diet needs to be well balanced in order to prevent them from becoming overweight. Your vet will be able to recommend the best amount and type of dog food for your Dachshund. Usually, Dachshunds should be given two meals per day with occasional treats.9
Are Dachshunds well-behaved?
Dachshunds are fiercely courageous hunting dogs and may try to take on much larger animals. They might also become aggressive towards other dogs. Every dog is different, though, so this can vary depending on your Dachshund’s personality.
Are Dachshunds hard to potty train?
Yes, they are one of the more tricky breeds to potty train, but it can be done as long as you stay consistent with training. Talk to your vet and a veterinary behaviorist if you’re having trouble house training your Dachshund.
Do Dachshunds have high anxiety?
Dachshunds may be prone to separation anxiety. This can become a bigger problem in the long run, so it’s best to address it from the beginning. Talk to a Dutch vet about dog anxiety treatment for more information about training resources, anxiety medication, and more.
Do Dachshunds bark a lot?
Dachshunds have a surprisingly loud bark, considering their small size. You can use training techniques to minimize barking.
Dachshunds are pint-sized balls of energy who are always looking for something to sniff. As a hunting dog breed they’re brave enough to attempt confrontation with much larger animals. Their long bodies and short legs make them a popular choice of pet. However, this body shape puts them at a higher risk of developing back problems. While most dogs love to jump around, Dachshunds can get injured if they jump too high or too much. Sniffing, hide and seek, and puzzle games using treats are a great alternative to jumping and will keep them mentally stimulated.Bringing home a Dachshund? Sign up for a Dutch membership to get easy and accessible advice from licensed vets online.
“Dachshund: Temperament, Lifespan, Grooming, Training.” Petplan, www.petplan.co.uk/pet-information/dog/breed/dachshund/. Accessed 12 May 2023.
Kriss, Randa. “Dachshund Dog Breed Information.” American Kennel Club, 6 Nov. 2017, www.akc.org/dog-breeds/dachshund/. Accessed 12 May 2023.
Clark, Ross D. “ORIGIN AND HISTORY.” Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Risk Factors of Dachshunds, Xlibris LLC, 2014.
“Dachshund (Smooth Haired) Dog Breed Information.” Purina, www.purina.co.uk/find-a-pet/dog-breeds/dachshund-smooth-haired#no-back. Accessed 16 May 2023.
- Duffy, Deborah L., Yuying Hsu, and James A. Serpell. "Breed differences in canine aggression." Applied Animal Behaviour Science 114.3-4 (2008): 441-460.
- Storengen, Linn Mari, et al. "A descriptive study of 215 dogs diagnosed with separation anxiety." Applied Animal Behaviour Science 159 (2014): 82-89.
“Temperament & Behaviour.” Dachshund Health UK, www.dachshundhealth.org.uk/temperament-behaviour. Accessed 16 May 2023.
Franks, Joanne N. “Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD): Facts about Backs.” Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center (DVSC), 11 Apr. 2023, https://dvsc.com/medical_library/intervertebral-disc-disease/.
“Dachshund Breed Information.” The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/medium-dogs/dachshund. Accessed 16 May 2023.