The Dachshund, often referred to as the “Weiner dog,” is one of the most popular dog breeds worldwide. Somewhat unusual looking with its very short legs and long back, the breed is known for being intelligent, stubborn and loyal with its owners and strangers.
Owned by such people as John F. Kennedy, Andy Warhol and singing sensation Adele, dachshunds have a very special place in the hearts of many. Used as the symbol of the Olympic Games by its native Germany, the breed is one which is very adaptable to most homes and is considered an ideal pet by those who own them.
Physical CharacteristicsDachshunds have long, muscular bodies with short, stubby legs that are designed for digging and burrowing. Their long, droopy ears resemble those of bloodhounds, of which the breed is a distant relative. Available in short-haired, long-haired and wire-haired versions, they have long noses that help them sniff out whatever they may be seeking.
The two common sizes of dachshunds are standard and miniature. Short-haired and long-haired versions are the most popular, and it also displays an amazing variety of colors and patterns. The three dominant patterns are single-colored, single-colored with spots and single-colored with tan points. Red, tan and black are the three most common colors for the breed, with red the most popular of the three. Eye colors can vary, with most having light brown, green or amber eyes. Some may have blue eyes, or even a blue eye and a brown eye, but this is not very common.
TemperamentThe temperament of a dachshund is as varied as its appearance. While generally playful and lively, they are also prone to being stubborn and aggressive to strangers, other dogs and sometimes children. Originally bred as hunting dogs, many are high-energy and can spend hours chasing tennis balls or small animals such as birds with tremendous determination. Very intelligent and clever, they may be difficult to housebreak and can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time, often chewing up household items when stressed.
Because of their intelligence, they can become bored very quickly. Therefore, an owner needs to be sure they can have many activities lined up for their "hot dogs." When they get tired, they often refer back to their burrowing nature and will hide in blankets, furniture or other spots in the house.
Care & GroomingShort-haired dachshunds require little if any grooming due to their smooth coats, while wire-haired and long-haired versions require more care. Long-haired dachshunds should be brushed a minimum of 2-3 times per week to keep their hair from becoming tangled, while 1-2 times per week is sufficient for the wire-haired version. Bathing can also be done with this breed on an as-needed basis, since these dogs do little to get themselves very dirty.
For those who decide to own dachshunds, they should be aware of the potential health problems of the breed. Because of their long spinal column and relatively short rib cage, they are prone to musculoskeletal problems concerning their back. The most common back problem dachshunds experience is intervertebral disk disease, also known as IVDD. On average, 25% of the breed will develop this problem. Treatment can involve rest, anti-inflammatory medications or even surgery. The best way to avoid developing this problem is keeping the dog's weight at a normal level and avoiding intense exercise or rough handling.
Other problems the breed is prone to include dislodged kneecaps, brittle bone disease, epilepsy, eye conditions such as corneal ulcers and congenital heart defects.
HistoryThe modern dachshund originated in Germany, although some scholars believe the breed was a descendant of ancient Egypt. Recent discoveries of mummified remains of dogs strongly resembling dachshunds lend some credence to this theory, but its creation from German breeders is widely regarded as the beginning of the modern-day dachshund. First referenced in books from the 15th and 16th centuries, they were bred to be hunting dogs. Often seen on the trail of rabbits and foxes, they also gained an outstanding reputation for their seeking out and extermination of badgers.
Believed to be introduced in the United States in the mid-1800's, the dachshund became popular quite quickly. Due to its hunting skills, it was used by owners in the Old West to hunt down and exterminate prairie dogs. Because of the breed's association with Germany, its popularity dipped in the United States during World Wars I and II. However, it rebounded tremendously and today is a favorite of those living in apartments and urban settings. Because of this, they are popular dogs in such cities as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.