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A dog of many names but more often than not it's no wonder the Dachshund is also known as the 'sausage' dog! These little, long and pretty dogs are a member of the hound family but are now more often kept as family pets.
The name Dachshund is of German origin and literally translates as 'Badger Dog', from Dachs (badger) and Hund (dog). Because of their long, narrow build, they are often nicknamed Wiener Dog or Sausage Dog. Although Dachshund is a German word, in modern Germany they are more commonly known by the name Dackel; and when they are formally (when they are certified as hunters and trackers) used for hunting, the name Teckel is used.
It is thought that dogs of similar size and build to the Dachshund may have been around for a very long time, depicted in, cave and tomb drawings, some thousands of years old, found in countries such as Egypt and South America, however; Dachshund we know now, is thought to have originated in Germany over 400 years ago. Woodmen and hunters in Germany began to select traits from hunting dog, mostly used to hunt badgers, as they were considered to be a pest.
The Dachshund was also used to hunt foxes, rabbits and when working in packs, it could also tackle larger animals such as deer and boar. The hunters needed a hardy dog that could follow quarry through thick undergrowth and even underground so bred the dog to have a build suitable for fitting into narrow burrows. Surprisingly, even with their short legs they could cover distances at speed.
It seems that these small dogs first appeared in UK in 1840 when the Royal Family bought some of them back to England to take part in hunts, mainly in pheasant shoots. The first Dachshund dog show was in England in 1859, another royal to show interest in the Dachshund breed was Queen Victoria, and her interest in dog shows improved the dachshund dog's popularity.
During the First World War, because of their German origin they went out of fashion as anything to do with Germany was not popular and it has only been by the efforts of dedicated breeders that they are now one of the most popular small dog breeds.
Average height to withers: Standard size between 8-9 inches, miniature between 5-6 inches.
Average weight: Standard between 6-11kg, miniature under 5kg.
The standard Dachshund has a long compact body, very strong but short legs, and an alert head and eyes. Their head shaped is tapered and they have a finely formed muzzle and black nose with open nostrils. The almond-shaped eyes are expressive and the ears are set near the top of the head. The long body is well muscled, with a deep, broad, strong front and the tail is long and tapered (it is said it is long as it is used by owners and hunters for pulling them out of tunnels!)
The standard Dachshund has three coat varieties, Shorthair called 'smooth, long hair and wire hair. The original dachshund breed was the smooth coat. The longhair and wirehair coats came later with selective breeding. The mini Dachshunds have a long compact well muscled body with prominent chest showing the strength and power needed to hunt above and below ground.
In spite of the short legs, they move well and quickly across the ground. This dog has solid strong legs, which it uses for digging. The head is tapered, like the larger standards size Dachshund, but the eyes are an almond shape. The ears are larger and floppy and are set near the top of the head. It has the same long, tapered tail as the standards size. Like the standard size, are smooth haired, long haired and wire haired miniature Dachshunds. Both sizes can come in a variety of colours and can be solid or patterned.
Dachshunds are playful, but can be stubborn, and are prone to chasing small animals and sometimes, larger ones! With the stubbornness, comes the fact that they can be difficult to train and can also shown aggression to strangers and other dogs on occasion. Research has also shown that they are amongst the most aggressive of dogs towards their owners. That said, they can be amazingly loyal and protective of their families and will display a loud bark, for their size, when feeling under threat.
They do not like being alone generally and sometimes when left alone, many Dachshunds can suffer severe separation anxiety. Like many dogs, if this is a problem for them they may display a variety of negative behaviours, most frequently chewing objects in the house to relieve stress. They have a average working and obedience intelligence and are notoriously difficult to house train meaning the owner needs to shown an immense amount of patience. Dachshunds are burrowers by nature and are likely to burrow in blankets and other items around the house, when bored or tired.
On average, Dachshunds live around 12 years. They do have some specific heath issues, mainly due to their long backs. Whether standard or miniature size, they are the same issues.
The owner MUST be aware of encouraging too much jumping (on furniture, into car, down stairs etc) as this causes shock on the discs in the spine. In addition, when lifting and carrying support the dog's weight on both the front and rear, to minimise stress on the spine. Dachshunds are tough little dogs so these are just precautions, to help prevent any problems occurring.
It is important to watch your Dachshund's diet as any extra weight puts strain on the spine and these dogs are predisposed to slipped or ruptured disks. Regular exercise should be a part of any routine.
The unique conformation of the Dachshund, with its short legs and long body, does make the breed prone to problems with the spine and the back, due to the sheer length of the back in relation to the legs, and the pressure that this places upon the spine. Some Dachshunds may fall prone to problems such as slipped discs of the spine, nerve problems and spinal paralysis, sometimes known as 'Dachshund Paralysis', which can be either temporary and permanent. While there are treatment and management options available for some of the spinal problems that Dachshunds may be prone to, it can, in some cases, lead to permanent paralysis of the hind limbs, which necessitates being able to care for your dog appropriately if they do develop this disability.
The breed is also prone to Intervertebral Disk Disease (IDD). This is one of the common Dachshund health problems. Selective breeding from parents who show no sign of the disease is one way breeders are trying to prevent this condition. In less severe cases there is a possibility of recovery by treating with drugs, and complete rest. Surgery is also an option in more severe cases.
For a smaller dog, a considerable amount of exercise is required so the owner needs to factor this into the day - do not presume just because this is a small breed little exercise and stimulation is required. It goes without saying that the longer haired variety requires more attention to its coat that the shorter haired types.