In these paragraphs, we'll burrow into a badger-hole, unearthing the quirky story of wiener dogs — AKA dachshunds...
Bred hundreds of years ago to spook tunneling animals (such as rabbits, foxes, and badgers) from their burrows, dachshunds nowadays are as lovely as they are tubular— doubling as hunting dogs and at-home family members.
Looking like they popped out of a comic book, their cartoonish physical personality is matched by their equally cartoonish personalities.
Dachshunds are highly intelligent (though stubborn as well!) and are impressively courageous, nearly to a fault! It makes sense why this is the case. Like American “tunnel rat” soldiers diving into Vietcong burrows, dachshunds dove into the tunnels of foxes, badgers, and rabbits, bravely chasing out these formidable animals, and destroying them if need be.
In fact, this battle-royale mentality is where the dachshund name comes from! Originating in Germany, the dachshund’s name translates to: “dachs” meaning badger, and “hund” meaning hound.
Their ancestral tunnel vision in following scents with a single-minded determination (and their bravery in hunting) is perhaps why dachshunds today are stubborn and almost too courageous. It’s also why dachshunds usually benefit from staying on-leash, since they’re apt to chase after rabbits or squirrels with a single glance.
Yet, with all their instincts for facing down badgers and foxes, dachshunds are among the most loving dogs you’ll find. More than anything, they love to snuggle up with their owner; as you’ll hear from any dachshund parent, their compassionate personality outweighs their mischief on the side.
As a dachshund delves into tunnels to chase out badgers, we’ll delve into some details on the history, health, and personality of dachshunds, among other topics.
But first, as a fun fact, dachshunds were actually Germany’s mascot for the 1972 summer Olympic games!
With their legendary look, it’s no surprise that dachshunds routinely top kennel lists, around the globe, as one of the world’s most popular dog breeds.
Of course, their distinctive long bodies and stubby legs have given rise to their funny nicknames, such as hot dogs, wiener dogs, or sausage dogs.
You’ll find dachshunds with 3 different hair-dos: wirehaired, smooth (also called shorthaired), or longhaired.
Here^ are some visual examples of each. Interestingly, in a “fuzzy” way, you can roughly sub-categorize the personalities of dachshunds, based on their hairstyles! This stems from the fact that each hairstyle of dachshund originates from slightly different doggy ancestors. We’ll get to that right after these image examples.
Like with any dog, their personality is a rich mixture of ‘nature vs. nurture’. Although there are certainly broad-strokes personalities across the 3 different types of dachshunds, the way your dachshund is trained will have a major impact on his or her personality. This section will mostly touch on the ‘nature’ side of things (instead of the ‘nurture’ side of things).
If you’re in the exciting circumstances of giving a lucky dachshund a forever-home, then consider choosing a dachshund who’s not overly shy, yet not overly trouble-making; that is, if you have a chance to visit and observe a litter of dachshund puppies. Also, try meeting the litter’s parents to see if they’ve got temperaments which match the energy-level you’re looking for.
Now, here’s some information on dachshund personalities, based on their hairstyles.
Of the 3 main types of dachshunds, wirehaired dachshunds are usually the most energetic, mischievous, and stubborn. Experts say that’s due to their terrier heritage. Like terriers, wirehaired dachshunds love to be involved in everything, and have bold, confident personalities.
Due to their hairstyle, they can use a bit more brushing than their smooth counterparts.
Smooth dachshunds have a bit more subdued personality. Oftentimes more aloof (or just plain uninterested) in being social with strangers, they reserve most of their love, funneling it instead to their closest family members.
Interestingly, they’re the most popular type of dachshund in North America.
Last but certainly not least, longhaired dachshunds are often the quietest yet sweetest natured of all 3 dachshund types. Cyanologists (AKA dog experts) say this is because of their spaniel heritage.
With their luscious locks of hair, it’s best to brush longhaired dachshunds about once per day, ideally.
Think mini hot-dog versus a bacon-filled smokie. That's how much of a range of sizes dachshunds cover.
On the one hand, there are miniature dachshunds, which are usually 11 lbs or less. And on the other hand, there are standard dachshunds, which range from 16 lbs to 32 lbs, as adults. Usually, the male dachshunds will be a bit bigger than the female dachshunds.
Actually, there’s an ‘unofficial’ name in case your dachshund falls between the miniature and standard sizes; if your dachshund is between 11 lbs and 16 lbs, “tweenie” is the name to use. While tweenies aren’t officially recognized as a dachshund size by kennel clubs, they’re not penalized for being that size at dog shows.
With their almost cartoonish look (with an elongated body and stubby legs), on the one hand, and their stubborn intelligence, on the other, it might come as a surprise that these dogs can really be formidable hunters. Yet, their funny form was actually bred solely for the purpose of hunting, allowing them to sneakily make their way through tunnels to wrangle badgers and other creatures.
In fact, their single-mindedness in following scents and chasing animals is perhaps what gives them their seemingly defiant mentality and need to stay on-leash during walks.
Your dachshund has a rich bloodline that traces back hundreds of years. Experts think today’s dachshunds first emerged in the 1400s, in Germany. By the 1500s, documents began to refer to an “earth dog” and a “badger creeper” — “wiener dog” as a nickname seems a tad more fun, but I suppose these early dachshunds had jobs to do!
Despite their name directly translating to “badger hound”, badgers weren’t this medieval hunter’s only prey – foxes, deer, boar, hares, and weasels also fell prey to this formidable hound. Of course, for a miniature dachshund today, fighting a wild boar would be Timothée Chalamet against Darth Vader. Instead, early dachshunds were larger than today’s standard dachshunds, being an estimated 30-35 lbs.
Desiring a breed, perfectly engineered to fend off pesky badgers, German foresters of the 1700s and 1800s refined the dachshund breed tirelessly. They wanted a tubular breed who could not just chase down tunneling creatures, but also fight them if a stand-off happened. With that being the case, a cocktail of breeds comprised today’s dachshunds, including pinschers, spaniels, various terriers, and possibly basset hounds.
Did their concoction of breeds work? Yes! Today, dachshunds are the only AKC-recognized dog, which hunts prey both above and below ground. Their tubular bodies and stubby legs are perfect for chasing through tunnels, and their tails work as convenient handles for their owners to pull them out of holes, if they get stuck. With paws perfect for digging, deep lung capacities for breathing, loud barks for locating, and stretchy skin to avoid underground abrasions, dachshunds are an ideal dog for their original purpose.
But their purpose steadily changed. Already by the 1800s, dachshunds were being welcomed into families as house pets, rather than working dogs. In fact, royal families, at that. For example, Queen Victoria was known to love dachshunds. Particularly as more of a house pet, the dachshund breed was brought to its miniature size around this time.
Decades later, by the 1880s and onwards, as the first kennel clubs in America and Europe began cropping up, dachshunds became officially recognized as a breed, and dachshund clubs began cropping up.
Apart from a few momentary dips in popularity, particularly during WWI and WWII with their German heritage, dachshunds have remained one of the most popular breeds in the UK and America. Today, they’re ranked in the Top 10 of the 155 breeds recognized by the AKC.
When it comes to a clean bill of health for dachshunds, their highest priority is almost always their back. Their most pressing risk is a slipped or ruptured (herniated) disc in their back, which can potentially cause partial or full paralysis.
With that being the case, try not to take your dachshund for walks that are too long, or letting your dachshund leap like batman across furniture. Also, try replacing staircases with ramps, and adding ramps beside couches or beds, so your dachshund doesn’t have to leap up and down.
Also, this information is not meant to replace the advice of your dachshund’s vet, so be sure to speak to your vet if you’d like the best health advice possible.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
For dachshunds, their main health concern is with their back. That means that, whenever holding your dachshund, walking your dachshund, or monitoring them around the house, always make sure their back is supported. Also, be sure not to overfeed your dachshund, and to give adequate (but not excessive) exercise, so that they can healthily support the weight of their bodies. In case your dog’s back gets injured, be sure to see your vet for next steps.
For dachshunds, epilepsy is a mostly genetic disease, which means your dog could get epileptic seizures. Typically, it’s treated with medicine, but speak with your vet for actionable advice.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
As the name suggests, PRA is an eye disorder, in which, usually in older age, your dog can gradually lose sight. Fortunately, poor eyesight is okay for dogs to still live fulfilling lives.
Also called Torsion or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), bloat is a condition where dogs’ stomachs get filled with air, and twist, rendering it impossible to burp or throw-up the excess air. In case this happens, know it’s most likely a medical emergency and you should see your vet ASAP.
Similar to many other breeds, dachshunds are susceptible to hearing loss. Occasionally, you can see if their parents were tested for hearing loss, and if they’re in the clear, you can feel more confident that your dachshund’s hearing will be okay.
Care & Training
Having been bred to battle boars (yes, really!) and chase badgers, dachshunds have energetic personalities, stemming from their working-breed past.
With that being said, your dachshund may only need about 30min of walking, twice per day (depending on their age).
When it comes to playtime, your dachshund will enjoy goofing off, and especially digging holes. Be sure to let your dachshund play in the dirt from time to time, even if it takes a bit of cleanup afterwards; it’s in their nature, and most dachshunds love to do it.
Since dachshunds are smart dogs, training them is usually easier, compared with other breeds. To make it smoother, use lots of treats as positive reinforcement, and try not to keep training sessions too long, otherwise they might get a little ticked off and annoyed.
When it comes to crates, it’s okay to crate-train your dachshund if you’re gone for an hour or two, here or there, but try not to keep your dachshund crated for 3 or more hours. In fact, if your schedule demands that you need to routinely crate your dog for 5+ hours at a time, a dachshund probably isn’t the right breed for you.
Giving into food begging is especially a bad idea with dachshunds. Don’t overfeed your dachshund — being overweight is especially problematic for this breed. More rolls means more back strain for this breed.
On a daily basis, 0.5 to 1.5 cups of dry food should do the trick; of course, this will depend on whether your dachshund is mini or standard, so be sure to also ask your veterinarian for a recommendation specific to your dog.
Your dachshund will certainly shed, but not as much as many other shedding breeds. Conveniently, they’re also a low-odor breed, which adds to their lower maintenance.
Smooth dachshunds (aka shorthaired dachshunds) require the least frequent brushing, since their hair is so short. On the other hand, wirehaired and longhaired dachshunds will look their best when brushed once per day.
Having floppy ears, be mindful of their ear cleanliness, which can attract fungus and bacteria. The next time you’re at your vet’s office, ask if there’s anything she can recommend for ear cleaning.
Nail clipping is also important once or twice a month. If their nails are left too long, they can cause problems with their gait and joints, and it’s painful for them, so try to get your dachshund used to having his or her nails clipped monthly.
Finally, be sure to brush your dachshund’s teeth on a daily basis. The more you can stick with it, the more likely it is that your dachshund will keep his or her teeth into late adulthood.
Inside vs. Outside
Although dachshunds were bred as a working breed, they’re such affectionate dogs that they’ll thrive more as inside than outside dogs.
Miniature dachshunds are especially a sound choice for apartment dwellers, or people who don’t have much of an easily accessible backyard. Plus, if you don’t have many stairs in your home (for instance if you live in a bungalow), that’s a big plus, since your dachshund won’t have to be a Tibetan sherpa.
If you get a dachshund, prepare to be surprised by another one of its larger-than-life traits: their bark. With lungs which are extra large, perhaps because of their heftier chest, dachshunds do bark a decent amount, which is worth being mindful about, around sensitive neighbours.
Being so playful, dachshunds are a great addition to families with kids. Mainly, you’ll want to make sure your kids are careful with your dachshund’s back. With that in mind, let your dachshund and children have tons of fun together, but always supervise that playtime.
Dachshunds are lovable hot dogs, with surprising “contradictions” which make them fascinating family members. They’re unbelievably caring, yet have a history of hunting down wild boars; they’re mischievous and care-free, yet protective when danger arises; they’re great apartment dogs, but also love digging holes in the yard.
One thing is for sure, though, these medieval badger terminators are absolutely elite, and a timelessly top dog in the hearts of millions.