Dachshunds (aka sausage dogs or wiener dogs) have been around for 300 years or so, having been bred in Germany for hunting badgers – Dachs meaning badger and hund meaning dog. This accounts for their distinctive shape – long, low slung and muscular – perfect to fit down badger tunnels; they also have a large chest cavity to afford them the ability to breath underground and a brave character to face such an intimidating prey.
Dachshunds are no longer used for hunting in the US and UK and instead they amuse and delight us as pets.
It is generally regarded there are two sizes of Dachshund – standard (weighing 1-2 stone) and miniature (weighing about 12lbs). There is a third size, rabbit, which isn’t recognised by all official bodies. There are also three coat types – short haired, who are said to be quite needy of their owners; long haired, who tend to be laid back; and wire haired, who tend to like clowning around. The colours range from red (brown), black and tan and chocolate and tan, or combinations of these.
Whilst the Dachshund may not be the most intelligent of dogs, they are no slouches either – indeed, they are certainly characterful and full of life. They have a surprisingly loud bark for their size – often a caller who couldn’t see the dog, would surmise the bark coming from a larger hound, only to be most surprised to see a small dog come into view!
Dachshunds can be determined to the point of stubbornness and this can make them quite a challenge to train. As you throw a ball and call “fetch,” the dog will look at you as if to say, “fetch it yourself!” That said, they are very loyal and devoted to their owners and would bravely step up to protect their loved ones.
Dachshunds don’t seem to be aware of their size and will challenge much larger dogs, not realising they are outranked in terms of stature. This can get them into scrapes, with an owner finding a rather large hound heading in their direction, whilst their dachshund takes refuge behind them! Sometimes they are kept together with guard dogs as their deep barking can act as an excellent alert of any potential danger.
Dachshunds have featured in history – there is a theory that a very similar type of dog can be seen on paintings from ancient Egypt, although what we think of as the modern day breed has its origins in Germany. Queen Victoria favoured them together with a number of royal courts throughout Europe and our present day monarch is also a fan, keeping them alongside her Corgis.
Unfortunately, the image of the Dachshund was tarnished in both World War I and II, when they were seen as a symbol of the German enemy and their popularity plummeted during this period.
Happily, their reputation has been restored and the 1972 summer Olympics chose the Dachshund as its mascot. Indeed, the Dachshund, which was once a reasonably rare sight at one time, has enjoyed more recent popularity, with their distinctive build, proving popular with designers and cartoonists. There are now lots of images of the breed popping up all over the place, with mugs, t-shirts, coasters and even mouse mats adorned with their image. Doubtless, helped along by Andy Warhol, who featured his beloved Dachshund in his trendy artwork.
A misconception is that being small dogs, Dachshunds don’t have much energy or need a lot of exercise – quite the contrary is the case – they might have short legs, but they sure know how to use them and can quite happily walk for miles and miles.
Being hunting dogs, Dachshunds favour digging and if you’re a keen gardener, it’s worth bearing this in mind as you’re likely to find divots in your lawn and holes in your flower beds courtesy of your pet Dachs!
Some might view the Dachshund as a strangely shaped, somewhat insignificant dog – but Dachshunds definitely have other ideas! They are loyal to their owners and cherished by many. All in all, Dachshunds can make fantastic pets. They are a characterful and noble breed to be admired and celebrated.
Dachshunds – definitely no silly sausages.