Dachshund Breed Guide
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Dachshund Breed Information & Background
The Dachshund breed—the former badger dog also known as a Doxie—originated in Germany long before the 15th century. Contrary to popular assumptions, the Dachshund was actually a dog bred for hunting. Originally a larger dog (by about 10-20lbs), they hunted everything from wild boar to small rabbits and were notable for being extremely dexterous in their craft. Referred to as the Teckel in Germany, 18th and 19th-century foresters worked hard to optimize the breed and produce the perfect hunting companion.
Crossing the original breed with Braques and Pinschers, French Basset Hounds and Spaniels, the types of the Dachshund were many. Yet one thing remains certain: these were athletic hunting dogs with wide paws perfect for digging, and lithe, muscular bodies that could fit into burrows most dogs could not. Not only that, but their tight skin would not tear when faced with narrow enclosures, which reduced the risk of injury.
In the late 19th century, favored in the royal courts and by Queen Victoria herself, breeders began to develop more ‘pet-like’ Dachshunds, which eventually led to a size about 10lbs smaller—on average—than the hunter canine. These ‘pet-oriented’ Dachshunds were then exported to the US in the late 19th century, and are the ancestors of the breed we know today.
Although they were recognized by the AKC in 1885 and experienced a rapid growth in popularity in the decades after, their presence took a dip in WWI and WWII. Reason being, they’re German dogs. With the entire country rallied by patriotism, anything German was shunned. Dachshunds included.
Once the wars passed and the 50’s rolled around, the breed regained its popularity and the Dachshund breed became an American family favorite again, which it remains to be now.
Dachshund Temperament & Personality
The Dachshund personality is a dynamic mix of the stubborn, clever worker, and the loving, overly affectionate companion. These dogs were bred for resilience, stamina, and most of all fearlessness, but their later pet-like breeding imposed all the friendly and outgoing personality traits of a house dog. The combination of these characteristics creates quite the character; one that has the hunt in him, is smart enough to challenge their owner and stubborn to the point of disobedience, and yet loves unconditionally and wants nothing more than the family’s attention.
Between males and females, some owners claim there are distinct differences, while others barely notice anything. Females can be less patient with children, a bit harder to train, and resilient. They’re also known for being more clever. Males, on the other hand, are thought to be abundantly loving, giddy, and easier to housebreak.
As with all dogs, early socialization, training, and heredity play a part in their personality and temperaments. Dachshund personality traits are often inherited, and thus it’s important to know the personality and temperament of their parents before purchasing a puppy.
Training a Dachshund
Dachshunds usually respond well to training—but a common mistake made by the owner is to suppose that they’re simply house dogs and underestimate the time which needs to be devoted to training. The hunt in their blood gives them excessive energy and stamina, and while they won’t need to run for miles on end, they need constant stimulation and activity.
A Dachshund should be housebroken. Crate training works well with this breed and helps not only to simmer down their energy but also to reinforce that the indoors is their place of stay. To that point, they’ll often be unable to understand why the outdoors isn’t their perpetual playground. It’s important that you take your Dachshund out every day—especially in their early ages—and let them dig, chase around animals, and run. This will mitigate their destructive tendencies in the home, and establish the differences between indoors and outdoors.
Positive reinforcement works best with a Dachshund, especially in the form of treats or allowing them their favorite toy. Puppy classes and early socialization are a must. Do be aware that a Dachshund’s attention span can be very short. When reinforcing their classes at home, be quick and forward with your sessions, and keep them consistent. These dogs desire training, but not constant reinforcement or dominant leadership. However, by in large, training your Dachshund should not prove difficult, as they’re naturally docile.
Exercise Requirements for a Dachshund
A Dachshund generally requires two half-mile walks per day. These walks can be brisk and quick, or drawn out. They won’t tire easily, so if you have a yard or access to a field, it’s good to let them run free and experience stimulation on their own. Sometimes they’ll want to play fetch or enjoy a game with their owner, but often this breed is not the most game-oriented.
Also, Dachshunds are prone to becoming overweight. Owners are often misguided by their adoration for the home place and willingness to cuddle over exercise and misjudge the amount they need to exercise. It’s important that these dogs move every day, even if it’s for a quick walk down the block. Use the time of activity to introduce them to new environments, other dogs, and socialize them.
One of the most important things to note about Dachshunds is—while they might not demonstrate it—they require exercise and exposure to the outdoors. The hunt is in their blood, and to maximize their potential, you need to exercise it.
Dachshund life expectancy typically ranges anywhere from 14-17 years.
Dachshund Breed Popularity
The Dachshund breed ranks #13th in the AKC’s most popular list of 155 registered dog breeds. The family oriented, medium to smaller sized canine is easy to train, love, and care for. Their spunky and enthusiastic personalities, undying affection, and patience with children make them an American favorite. While their popularity declined immensely in the early-mid 20th century, they’re now back to where they started. That won’t change anytime soon.
Feeding Requirements for a Dachshund
The recommended daily amount for a Dachshund is 0.5-1.5 cups of dry food per day. The food should be high-quality and nutrient heavy. Remember, a Dachshund is a dog as any, and their food intake will be different than the other puppies in the litter. Age, activity level, metabolism, and weight are all important characteristics to consider when calculating a balanced diet for your Dachshund.
To highlight the last factor stated, weight could be the most important; a Dachshund is prone to obesity. It’s important as the owner to try and mitigate weight gain by decreasing food portions and upping their daily exercise, even if they demonstrate an unwillingness to do so.
Grooming a Dachshund
The Dachshund comes in three types of coats; smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired. Each coat has different regularities of colorings, patterns, and distribution. Generally, smooth-coated Dachshunds are red or cream colored with some black sprinkled between—and sport blue or brown eyes. Wirehair-coated Dachshunds are usually wild boar colored, with a tendency to have lighter eyes. Lastly, longhair-coated Dachshunds are the same color as smooth-coated, yet their glistening and sleek fur grant a whole new meaning to the word elegance.
The low maintenance breed requires lesser hygienic and coat upkeep than most. They’re not avid shedders and the only times they’ll produce odor is if they rolled in something dirty, or there’s an infection present.
Smooth Dachshunds don’t require routine brushing. Often a wet sponge or a damp cloth can clean them. A Wirehaired Dachshund will require weekly brushing with a bristle brush, and the stripping of their coat 2-3 times annually. Longhaired Dachshunds need to be brushed weekly in order to avoid knotting.
A Smooth Dachshund requires the least bathing, and thus you should only bathe when needed. A Wirehaired Dachshund should be bathed 1-3 times per year, and then only as needed. A Longhaired Dachshund will require the most bathing, and often needs to be blow-dried after every wash.
All Dachshunds require routine ear checkups. Their large, floppy nature can often be the stomping grounds for infection, fungus, bacteria, mites, and external parasites. For optimal Dachshund health, seek a professional ear-cleaning product and clean their ears weekly. Just as well, brush their teeth 2-3 times a week to avoid tartar and bacteria buildups. Checkups in which you search for signs of feet, nose, mouth, coat, or eye problems should be carried out weekly or bi-weekly to make sure your Dachshund is in good health.
Are Dachshunds Good with Kids?
Dachshunds are typically fine with children, and much better if they’re introduced to them early on. Their playful energy pairs well with the youngsters and their loving demeanors make them a fantastic companion. However, they might not be as fond of the children’s friends, so a close eye must be kept when there are unfamiliar children in the household.
It’s important to educate your children on how to interact with a Dachshund. Their long backs are prone to injury if handled poorly. Just as well their deep, alarming barks can be startling at first, so the children need to understand this Dachshund behavior, and how to handle the situation afterward. All things considered, kids adore the cute, mid-small sized Dachshund, and the Dachshund loves to be adored. This longing for attention mixed with their overt enthusiasm makes them great additions to the family.
Dachshund Health Problems
As a result of their peculiar build, Dachshund back problems are common. But aside from that, they’re by in large healthy animals; they live nearly twenty years on average, which is almost double the median dog life. However, they’re not immune to any illnesses or diseases. That’s why ensuring health clearances were obtained for their parents—by the breeder—is a necessary measure of caution. While most Dachshunds will not experience these conditions, some possible Dachshund health issues are as follows:
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): it’s only appropriate that the first condition specifically involves the back. This condition occurs when the discs in the vertebrae begin to lose their responsiveness and, in simpler words, fail. Symptoms include lameness in the leg(s), paralysis, and occasionally the loss or hindrance of bowel and bladder control. Treatment for this condition ranges from surgery, medication, a doggie wheelchair, to using experimental chiropractic methods to realign the back.
Epilepsy: this condition—most often inherited—causes the dog to have seizures. In the dog world, that means they’ll run frantically from ‘ghosts,’ hide for hours on end, prance around with an abnormal gait, and sometimes collapse. There are different types of medication available for this disorder, and they’re generally effective.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): this is a degenerative eye disorder that leads to blindness. Basically, the photoreceptors in the back of the eye begin to fail, and gradually the dog’s eyesight wanes until it’s lost completely. A competent and reputable breeder should have the parents tested for PRA and ensure it’s not passed through to the litter, but sometimes it slips by.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV): this condition is also commonly referred to as Bloat or Torsion. It’s a life-threatening condition that occurs when the dog cannot pass gas. The excess of air then continues to build in the stomach and inhibits blood flow to the heart, thus causing a rapid drop in blood pressure. If this condition goes on without immediate medical treatment, the dog could die. It’s important to read up on the symptoms of GDV, as there is a slew of them, and take your dog to the vet if you’re at all suspicious.
Cushings Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism): this condition occurs when the body produces an excess of cortisol, which is a hormone. It’s most commonly linked with the pituitary and adrenal glands and can cause an excess in urination or an excess in drinking. There are treatments and medication that can easily curb this condition, but often it goes on without a diagnosis.