Originally, dachshunds were larger than they are today and were used to hunt badgers. Packs of these plucky little dogs were even used to track wild boar! Smaller versions of the dachshund were also bred to pursue tunneling animals such as foxes and rabbits.
In this article, we look closely at the dachshund breed’s origins. We’ll talk about the care a pet dachshund needs, common health problems the breed suffers from, and how to feed and groom your new canine companion.
So, first of all, let’s learn some more about where this fascinating breed came from.
The dachshund originates from Germany where the dogs were used for hunting badgers. In fact, this pup’s name when translated from German means “badger dog,” “dachs” meaning badger and “hund” meaning dog.
The dachshund first appears in pictures that were painted as early as the 15th century. Also, documents dating from the 16th century mention the “badger creeper,” “earth dog,” and “dachsel.” So, the Doxie has been around for a long, long time!
Early dachshunds varied tremendously in size. Larger dogs that were used to hunt badgers and boar weighed from 30 to 35 pounds. Smaller dachshunds that hunted deer and foxes weighed from 16 to 22 pounds, and miniature 12-pound dachshunds were used to hunt weasels and hare. In the early 20th century, tiny five-pound dachshunds were used for flushing cottontail rabbits out of their burrows and onto the hunter’s gun.
Did you know that the modern dachshund is the only Kennel Club-recognized hound breed that hunts both below and above ground? The dachshund’s powerful legs, long body, and short stature enable the dog to pursue their prey down narrow tunnels, and his long tail was often used by the dog’s handler to pull the dachshund out of the burrow!
Take a look at a dachshund, and you’ll notice that he has huge, paddle-shaped paws that are ideal for digging. The dachshund was bred with loose skin that would not tear as he squeezed into narrow burrows. The dachshund’s characteristic deep chest gave the dog excellent lung capacity and heart room, meaning that this pup had boundless stamina and wouldn’t tire during a day’s hunting. Even the dachshund’s deep bark was developed for a reason – to allow the animal’s handler to hear his dog when the dachshund was underground.
By the 1950s, the dachshund was an extremely popular family dog in the U.S., and they still are today. Although dachshunds are not generally used for hunting in the U.K. or the U.S., in some parts of Europe, notably France, they are still viewed as working hunting dogs and are used for tracking and pursuing small-game animals.
Because of their zest for hunting badgers, you’ll want to establish rules with your pup early on. This includes outfitting your dachshund with a proper harness so that you teach him not to pull aggressively when his prey drive kicks in.
Dachshunds are friendly, intelligent, lively, and brave. Although entertaining, the dachshund can be stubborn, which can make training a challenge. That said, your pet dachshund will love nothing more than cuddling up with you for a fuss!
Interestingly, dachshund personality can vary depending on their coat type. But why is that?
Well, thanks to lots of cross-breeding over the centuries, wirehaired dachshunds have terrier in their genes. That can make them cheeky and mischievous! Longhaired dachshunds tend to be very quiet and laid-back, whereas the smooth-coated variety is lively and full of fun.
Every dog’s personality and character is to some extent shaped by his experiences as a puppy. So, it’s up to you to raise your dachshund pup correctly. When you choose your puppy, always ask to meet his parents so that you can see if they have a gentle temperament. Calm, friendly parents usually produce offspring with the same desirable traits.
Dachshunds make excellent watchdogs, and you can be sure that your dog will let you know when strangers are around. That means lots of barking, which could be a problem if you live in an apartment or a condo where you have lots of neighbors.
Dachshunds as Pets
Dachshunds can make great pets! If you buy a dachshund as a puppy, he will be good with children and any other furry housemates that you have. However, the breed can be suspicious of strangers, so be sure to supervise your dachshund when kids he doesn’t know come to play.
Also, the dachshund’s long back can leave him susceptible to injury if he’s handled roughly or if playtime gets too boisterous. Make sure that young kids don’t try to pick up your dachshund and only allow them to pet him when they’re sitting down on the floor. As with any breed, children should be educated not to try to take your dachshund’s food away from him. Never leave a dog of any breed unsupervised with a child.
Dachshund’s usually get along fine with other pets, especially if they get to know them as puppies. However, if you take on an adult rescue dachshund, always supervise him closely when introducing him to other furry housemates, especially cats and house rabbits.
Dachshunds come in two sizes: standard and miniature.
Standard dachshunds usually weigh from 16 to 32 pounds. Miniature dachshunds weigh less than 11 pounds. Sometimes, cross-bred dachshunds turn out to weigh between 11 and 16 pounds. These dogs are called tweenies!
Dachshunds are generally healthy dogs, as long as you feed and exercise your pet correctly.
However, almost every dog breed, including cross-breeds, can be prone to some inherent health problems. Not every dachshund will develop the conditions we’ve listed below, but it’s vital that you are aware of potential health issues that could affect your dog.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
IVDD can cause loss of bladder control, pain, and mobility problems.
Canine Diabetes Mellitus (DM)
Diabetes mellitus sometimes occurs in dachshunds, especially very overweight ones. Although diabetes can be treated with drugs and daily doses of insulin, owners should be sure to keep their dachshund fit and take care not to overfeed him.
Dachshunds are prone to epileptic seizures. It’s thought that this is genetic, although a hard blow to the head sometimes causes the condition. Fortunately, epilepsy can be treated with drug therapy.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
PRA is a genetic eye disorder that gradually becomes more severe until the dog eventually goes blind. PRA is very slow to develop, and many dogs learn to use their other senses to compensate for the deterioration in their eyesight long before blindness occurs.
When you’re looking for a dachshund puppy, be sure to ask the breeder for proof that both the pup’s parents have been screened for PRA.
Bloat is known more correctly as gastric dilation-volvulus (GVD). Bloat is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the dog’s stomach becomes distended with gas and then twists. The dog cannot vomit or belch to get rid of the excess gas in its belly, and consequently, the flow of blood to the heart is compromised. If that happens, the dog will go into shock.
When you buy a dachshund puppy, find a reputable breeder who will be able to provide you with veterinary health certificates for both the pup’s parents. These certificates will show that your puppy’s mom and dad don’t have any of the genetic disorders that can affect the breed, and your puppy should, therefore, be healthy.
Dachshunds can live for up to 15 years, so you must be prepared to make a long-term commitment if you take on one of these pups.
Although they will live happily in a small house or apartment, dachshunds have lots of energy and will play for hours!
Favorite dachshund activities include playing with their owner and with other dogs, digging, and hunting. You should expect to give your dachshund two short half-mile walks each day. A game of fetch will go down well too! If you have a garden, you must be prepared for your Doxie to entertain himself by digging, so you may need to keep a close eye on him!
Smooth-haired dachshunds can be susceptible to cold weather, so you’ll need to buy your dog a warm coat to wear on winter walks.
Dachshunds don’t generally do well living outside as they tend to feel the cold. When you have a dachshund in your household, take care to provide him with a ramp so that he can climb up onto the bed or sofa. That’s because dachshunds can easily suffer from back injuries if they attempt to jump on and off chairs and high steps.
Dachshunds are highly intelligent, and it’s crucial that you spend time training your puppy to be obedient from the get-go. Keep the training sessions short and interesting so that your dachshund doesn’t get bored.
It’s essential to use crate training when housetraining your dachshund, as the breed can be stubborn and reluctant to go outside to relieve themselves. Be patient and consistent, and you will win the bathroom battle in the end!
How Much Do They Eat?
Dachshunds don’t have any specific feeding requirements, but you should always choose the best quality food for your dog.
Dry food is preferable to wet food for several reasons. Firstly, dry food helps to remove plaque from the dog’s teeth as he crunches on the hard nuggets of kibble, preventing gingivitis and canine periodontal disease from setting in.
However, young puppies that are teething may find it easier to eat wet, soft food, as it’s gentler on sore gums than hard kibble. Senior dachshunds with missing teeth or poor dental health will also appreciate canned, soft food as it’s easier for them to chew.
The quantity of food a dachshund requires each day varies, according to the type of food he’s receiving, his age, activity levels, and metabolism. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines on the product package for feeding amounts or ask your vet for guidance.
Remember that an overweight dachshund may be prone to developing health problems such as diabetes and back pain, so be careful not to overfeed your pet.
Dachshunds come in several colors. Smooth-coated dachshunds are usually red or cream, sometimes with a few black hairs mixed into the main coat color. Also, there are two-colored dachshunds, which can be chocolate, black, blue (gray), fawn (Isabella), and grizzled (wild boar), with cream or tan markings.
You can also find dappled dachshunds that have a merle patterned coat. Often, merle-coated dachshunds have blue eyes. Although this looks super-cute and very unusual, it’s best to avoid a dog with a merle coat and blue eyes. The merle coloring is caused by a genetic quirk that’s also associated with a number of health problems.
Many light-colored dachshunds have pale colored eyes of gray, hazel, or green, rather than dark brown. Sometimes, dachshunds with a double-dapple coat can have one eye and one brown eye. Again, if an unusually colored dachshund tempts you, always check that his parents have been health-screened for genetic problems before you take the puppy home.
Dachshund Coat Types
Did you know that dachshunds come in several different coat types?
The most commonly seen type of dachshund is the smooth-coated variety. Smooth-coated dachshunds have short, shiny coats that shed lightly.
Wirehaired dachshunds have a double coat. The top layer of hair is short and wiry, and the undercoat is soft and fluffy. Double-coated dogs generally shed more than short-haired varieties and do require more grooming. Wirehaired dachshunds are most commonly wild boar-colored.
As their name suggests, longhaired dachshunds have long, wavy fur, although they are light shedders.
Grooming Your Dachshunds
Smooth-haired dachshunds typically don’t shed much, so they don’t need a tremendous amount of grooming. A brush with a slicker brush every couple of days is enough to remove any loose hair and dirt from the coat. Finish off by giving your pup a quick once-over with a soft bristle brush.
You won’t need to bathe your smooth-haired dachshund frequently unless he rolls in something especially smelly! Generally, a wipe over with a damp cloth now and then is all you need to do to keep your dachshund’s coat clean and shiny.
If you choose a wirehaired dachshund, you will need to brush him every other day. It’s also necessary to “strip” your dog two or three times every year to keep his coat in good condition and looking smart. Your local dog groomer will be able to hand-strip your dachshund’s coat for you.
Longhaired dachshunds do require regular brushing to prevent their luxuriant, long hair from becoming matted and tangled.
All dachshunds have floppy ears. Although droopy ears look cute, they can also be prone to mites, bacteria, and fungus. To keep your dachshund’s ears healthy, you’ll need to clean them once a week. Take a cotton ball, and moisten it with a veterinary ear cleaning product. Gently wipe the cotton ball around the inside of your dog’s ears to clean away any dirt and grease. Never push a cotton swab down into your dachshund’s ear, as this could cause injury!
Like your fingernails, your dachshund’s nails need to be trimmed every few weeks so that they don’t grow too long, which could cause your dog discomfort when he walks. Many dogs don’t appreciate a manicure, and you may find the process less of an ordeal for you and your pet if you ask your local groomer or a veterinary nurse to do this job for you.
From puppyhood, it’s crucial that you brush your dachshund’s teeth. Brushing your pet’s teeth every couple of days helps to remove bacteria that will eventually cause plaque and tartar to form. Keeping your dachshund’s teeth clean can prevent the development of canine periodontal disease in your puppy’s later years.
Grooming time is the perfect opportunity for you to carry out a health check on your dachshund.
Check his skin for redness, inflammation, or tender areas that could indicate an infection or an injury. Keep a lookout for fleas and ticks, especially if your dachshund has been playing in long grass.
Your dog’s eyes should be bright and clear with no gunk in the corners. A dachshund’s nose should be wet and shiny, not dry, and he should not have “doggy breath,” which could indicate dental problems.
If your dachshund shows any signs of ill-health, always consult your vet immediately.
Finding Your Puppy
So, you’ve read our guide and decided that you’d love to welcome a dachshund into your family!
Always buy a puppy from a reputable, licensed breeder. Good breeders will have their breeding dogs and puppies health-screened and will keep them in excellent condition. You should also expect to meet your puppy’s parents and siblings. If the breeder is reluctant for you to do this, walk away.
Never buy a puppy from a puppy mill. Puppy mills are commercial enterprises that exist purely to maximize profit by producing vast numbers of puppies at minimal cost. Dogs used in puppy mills often suffer severe emotional and physical problems, which are usually passed on to their puppies. You should also be aware that many pet stores source their puppies from puppy mills, so avoid these too.
A register of trustworthy dachshund breeders in the U.S. can be found on the American Kennel Club website, at this link.
So, what can you expect to pay for a well-bred dachshund?
The current price range for a dachshund puppy is between $200 and $3,500 plus. The more expensive the puppy, the more in demand he will be and the more likely he is to come with a full pedigree.
Rescues & Shelters
If you’re happy to take on a rescue dachshund from a shelter, good for you!
However, it’s important to understand that an adult dog from an unsettled background may take some time to settle in and acclimatize to life outside of a kennel.
Here are a few dachshund rescue organizations that you might like to contact for more information on re-homing an unwanted dog.
- Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue
- DARE (Dachshund Adoption, Rescue & Education)
- Dachshund Rescue of North America
- Midwest Dachshund Rescue
- All American Dachshund Rescue
If you decide to look for a dachshund at a shelter or canine charity kennels, you will need to go through a rigorous approval process before you are allowed to take a dog home with you.
Most shelters will ask you for references to show that you have experience as a dog owner, and some will also ask to visit your home to see where the pup will live. Don’t take offense! Rescued dachshunds have often had a bad start in life, and the shelter will do everything they can to make sure that their charges go to a forever home where the dog will be happy, safe, and well-cared for.
You can’t buy a dog from a rescue shelter. However, most charities do ask that adopters make a modest donation towards the care of their rescued dogs and the upkeep of the facilities.
The dachshund is full of personality and character! These lively, intelligent little dogs can make great family pets in the right household, and they get on well with other pets and older kids who treat and handle them correctly.
If you take on a Doxie, you must be prepared to give him plenty of exercise and devote some time to grooming him, especially if you choose a longhaired or wirehaired variety.
You could buy a dachshund puppy from a licensed breeder or take on an older pup from a rescue shelter. Remember that dachshunds can live up to 15 years, so you must be prepared to make a long-term commitment. If a dachshund sounds like the perfect pet for you, you can undoubtedly look forward to many years of love and devotion from your new four-legged best friend!