One of the most recognizable dog breeds in the world, the short-legged, long-bodied Dachshund was first documented in the 16th century. Today, the dachshund is ranked number 12 of 193 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. Also known as the Teckel, Dackel, and Badger Dog, the Dachshund hails from Germany.
The Dachshund has a long and storied history as a hunting dog, assisting its owner in helping to sniff out and chase targets like badgers, rabbits, and other smaller burrowing mammals. While the dachshund is often unfriendly to strangers, it’s generally a fun, energetic, and playful dog, making it a popular companion to many dog lovers.
Characteristics of the Dachshund
Let’s take some time to go into a little detail about the appearance and temperament of the Dachshund.
The Dachshund is classified as an AKC small dog breed, with the standard Dachshund reaching a diminutive 8-9 inches in height and typically weighing between 16 and 32 pounds. Miniature dachshunds are even smaller at just 5-6 inches tall and usually weight no more than 11 pounds.
A pair of short legs keeps the muscular body of the dachshund close to the ground, allowing it to stay balanced while pursuing its prey. The dolichocephalic dachshund has a long nose and an acute sense of smell, along with a pair of hanging drop ears.
There are three coat types the Dachshund is bred with: long, smooth, and wirehaired. The Dachshund can have a variety of different colors including wild boar, wheaten, red, cream, and combinations such as black, blue, or chocolate and tan; fawn and cream or tan; or chocolate and cream or tan. Standard markings on a Dachshund are brindle, dapple, or sable.
The Dachshund is known for being a very curious, energetic, intelligent, and outgoing dog. The average life expectancy of a Dachshund is 12-16 years. Though small, Dachshunds are intrepid, devoted dogs who are very clever and are prone to getting into trouble, especially with their sharp sense of smell.
Spirited, stubborn, and determined, the Dachshund is a very vocal dog, and is almost never shy or reserved in its behavior; you can almost certainly expect these alert little dogs to sound the alarm when someone comes to the door, and a Dachshund will surely let you know how he or she is feeling at any given time. If their barking is too much, consider a dog silencer.
Dachshunds are affectionate and playful, though they are often hostile toward strangers. While the Dachshund may love running around the house and playing, extra care should be taken with small children around Dachshunds, as these dogs may not respond well to being handled. It may be a good idea to introduce children to the Dachshund while the Dachshund is in a dog crate or dog playpen. Nevertheless, the Dachshund will likely be attached and devoted to its family, and love to play with all members of it.
Dachshunds generally do not get along very well with other dogs, particularly when it comes to larger breeds. However, they will usually get along with other Dachshunds, and may get along well with other small dog breeds or even cats.
Despite its independence and fearlessness, it’s not uncommon for the Dachshund to suffer from separation anxiety. Oftentimes the Dachshund will respond to this and other anxieties with excessive barking. For the same reason, Dachshunds may not be great travel partners, since unfamiliar people and dogs will evoke nervousness and barking.
Caring for a Dachshund
Understanding a Dachshund’s needs and behavior will lead to a happy and healthy life. Here’s a closer look at how to care for a Dachshund, including some helpful information on Dachshund’s nutritional, exercise, and training needs, and the more commonly occurring health problems sometimes seen in Dachshunds.
The Dachshund will thrive on a lower fat diet of high-quality dog food. Though this breed loves to eat, food intake must be limited, specifically when it comes to table scraps, as Dachshunds are susceptible to weight gain, which can be detrimental to the Dachshund’s delicate long back. The Dachshund, like many other small dogs, will not require as many calories as some larger breeds, but its good health still demands essential nutritional ingredients like vitamins and minerals. Besides general health issues, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy weight in Dachshunds to avoid musculoskeletal problems.
Dachshunds require regular exercise to stay in shape and maintain the muscle in and around their back, in particular. The Dachshund is no couch potato and should be taken on at least two moderately long walks per day. Nevertheless, the Dachshund is not an especially high-energy small breed, like the Jack Russell Terrier.
While a Dachshund should be content with a couple of walks around a half a mile, its short legs are capable of longer walks of up to three or even four miles. A Dachshund should, however, be prevented from running up and down stairs or jumping on or off of objects, due to its susceptibility to injuries. A dog ramp and dog stairs are highly encouraged.
Though they are highly intelligent dogs, Dachshunds may be difficult to train thanks to a stubborn and independent mentality. Their keen sense of smell and hearing, background as a scent hound breed, and an unwavering curiosity will often have them distracted by something they find interesting. Fortunately, the Dachshund responds positively to reward-based training, and with plenty of patience and positive reinforcement, a Dachshund can be successfully trained. Care should be taken to avoid negativity and punishment during training, as Dachshunds do not respond well to harsh commands.
Dachshunds are a relatively healthy dog breed with few major concerns to worry about. One of the most common health problems in Dachshunds is injuries to the back and intervertebral disk disease. Due to its elongated body, the Dachshund is prone to ruptured and herniated discs. The risk of these injuries can be minimized by avoiding weight gain, excessive jumping and stair climbing, and by properly carrying a Dachshund. Another common health problem seen in Dachshunds is ear infections, which can often be avoided with regular cleaning. Other problems occasionally seen in Dachshunds include: hypothyroidism, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, and skin disease and allergies.