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rec.pets.dogs: Dachshund Breed-FAQ
Last-modified: 2 Oct 1999
This is a regularly posted FAQ and appears every thirty days in
rec.pets.dogs.info, rec.answers, and news.answers. A hypertext version of
document (with additional links) is available on the World Wide Web at
The most recently posted ASCII version of this file is available via
anonymous ftp to rtfm.mit.edu in the directory
pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/breeds/dachshunds. Or, send email to
in the body of the message, leaving the subject line empty.
Thanks to Dena Delgado for reviewing this FAQ, to Marivonne Rodriguez
for providing breed rescue and other supporting information, to Bill
Sweeney, to Jessica Lindsay Young, and most of all, to Chillie (a.k.a.
Chillie-dog), for showing me first-hand what terrific dogs Dachshunds
Copyright (c) 1997 by Steven Michelson. This document may be
distributed freely, provided you keep this copyright intact. This
document may not be sold for profit nor incorporated into commercial
documents without the express written permission of the author. This
document is provided "as is".
Table of Contents
* Development of the Dachshund
* Physical Characteristics and Temperament
* General Care
* Frequently Asked Questions
+ Are they easy to housebreak?
+ I want to train my Dachshund to start my car on really cold
days. Will this be possible?
+ How are they with children?
+ Do they bark a lot? What do they sound like?
+ Do they have any funny habits?
+ Tell me, do they shed, are they clean, and do they smell?
+ How much exercise do they need?
+ They sound adorable. What do they look like?
+ It sounds like a Dachshund is the dog for me. Where can I get
So, you want to learn about Dachshunds. Who could blame you? They're
such characters, and so comically cute to look at, both in their
unique physical proportions, and also in their spirited antics. No
wonder they're so popular. In 1996 they ranked seventh in popularity
for AKC breeds, and they've long been in the top ten. This FAQ attempts
to give you the background and characteristics of this breed, through
a mixture of facts gathered from numerous sources (referenced below),
from first hand experience with my Dachshund, Chillie, and
conversations with other Dachshund owners.
Development of the Dachshund
The current Dachshunds (also known as Teckels, Dachels, or Dachsels)
originated in Germany. In fact, the name Dachshund is German for
"badger dog," indicating why these dogs were originally bred - to hunt
badgers. German foresters, in the 18th and 19th centuries, mixed a
variety of breeds together, aiming for a fearless, elongated dog that
could dig the earth from a badger burrow, and fight to the death with
the vicious badgers who were unlucky enough to inhabit that burrow.
Dachshunds have also been used to hunt foxes, and believe it or not,
wild boar. Even though Chillie is heavily domesticated and abundantly
pampered, she still maintains and nurtures this innate hunting
instinct. She's been known to suddenly leap off the living room sofa
from a sound sleep in the donut position (a favorite position of
Dachshunds), and, without any hesitation, fiercely attack and capture
her unwitting prey - a common household bug. So, it's no wild boar.
The first Dachshunds were brought into the United States in 1887,
where they grew in popularity over the next few decades. By 1914, they
were among the 10 most popular entries in the Westminster Kennel Club
Show. During World War I, there was much disdain over anything
considered German and unfortunately the Dachshund was a victim of much
hostility. In fact, they were sometimes the victims of stonings, and
Dachshund owners were often called traitors. As a result, the number
of Dachshunds in the United States and Britain dwindled. After the
war, a few U.S. breeders slowly rebuilt the gene pool by importing
German stock, and the breed began to increase in popularity again. The
advent of World War II did not yield the same effects as World War I,
because by then American breeders were well established and Dachshunds
were very popular.
In the United States, there are, in total, six types of Dachshund.
They come in two sizes: miniature (less than 10-11 pounds) and
standard (all the rest, but usually above 18-20 pounds). In other
countries, there's wider variance in the sizes. In fact, in Germany,
the dogs are identified as either Standard, Miniature, or
Kaninchenteckel, based on a chest measurement taken at the age of
fifteen months. For each size, there are three coats: smoothcoated,
longhaired, and wirehaired. The standard smoothcoated Dachshund is the
most popular in the United States. The coat is short, smooth, and
shining. There are two theories regarding how the standard longhaired
Dachshund came about. One theory is that smoothcoated Dachshunds would
occasionally produce puppies which had slightly longer hair than their
parents. By selectively breeding these animals, breeders eventually
produced a dog which consistently produced longhaired offspring, and
the longhaired Dachshund was born. Another theory is that the standard
longhaired Dachshund was developed by breeding smooth Dachshunds with
various land and water spaniels. In either case, the result was a
beautiful animal (admittedly I'm a little biased), with a coat
comparable to that of an Irish Setter and a temperament like a
spaniel. In general, longhaired Dachshunds tend to be more docile than
the other two coats, though I'm sure there are exceptions to this
rule. I consider myself very lucky, because Chillie is a standard
longhaired Dachshund with just such a temperament, especially indoors
when there are people around. Wirehaired Dachshunds were developed by
breeding smooth Dachshunds with various hard-coated terriers and
wire-haired pinschers. They look very wise, most notably due to their
beards and bushy eyebrows. The coat is wiry, short, thick, and rough.
Like their smoothcoated cousins, the wirehaired tend to be
mischievous. They come in red, black, or even dappled. Chillie has
both red and black hair. Interestingly, the red hair is softer and
finer than the black, at least in longhaired Dachshunds.
Physical Characteristics and Temperament
Dachshunds are recognized by their long bodies and short legs. Their
design is the epitome of form following function. They are low to the
ground, which allows them to enter and maneuver through tunnels. Their
senses are all well developed. They are very brave. And they are very
independent. Being the smallest breed used for hunting, they need to
be independent to do their job. Remember this. Their independence, in
my opinion, has a lot to do with some other characteristics, which
I'll mention a little later. (By the way, if you're into low-riding,
comical looking dogs, you might also consider the Basset Hound. In
fact, in French, bas-set means simply low-set, and at one point, the
French name for the Dachshund was Bassets de Race Allemande. According
to literature from the Dachshund Club of America, it is even likely
that Dachshunds are descended from Basset Hounds.)
Dachshunds like to enter into the spirit of everything you do, which
isn't always the greatest help. When Chillie sees me putting on my
shoes to take her o-u-t for a w-a-l-k, she often tries to expedite the
process by helping me tie my laces. Needless to say, as
well-intentioned as she is when she presses her nose against my
shoelaces, this has never, in the four years we've been together,
sped up the process. This is akin to a three year old "helping" you
bake a cake, and insisting that (s)he break the eggs. They are playful
animals, but they insist on you following their rules of play, which
may or may not coincide with the rules commonly used by their other
canine cousins. I know a Champion standard wire-haired named Matthew
who I'm convinced has retriever in his bloodline somewhere - he lives
to chase and retrieve balls. This is very unusual for a Dachshund. The
retrieving part, that is. Although they often like to chase balls,
they don't necessarily see the need to bring them back to you. This is
an example of a Dachshund rule of play.
Anyone who meets a Dachshund has no doubt about who's dog it is. They
are often one-person dogs, meaning they bond very closely with their
master. A Dachshund's master is never alone in the house - they have a
long, low shadow following them everywhere around the house. This is
not to suggest that Dachshunds dislike other humans - quite the
contrary. But they definitely know which human is theirs.
It is extremely important to keep a Dachshund from getting fat, not
only for the usual reasons of general good health, but also because
their long back is susceptible to slipped or ruptured disks through
the additional strain placed on their spinal chord. This can result in
partial or full paralysis. Fortunately, it is often treatable, and a
full recovery is likely if the problem is dealt with promptly (as soon
as there's any evidence at all that the dog is having back pain.) In
addition, to reduce the chance of disk problems, it is also important
to make sure a Dachshund does not do things that put additional stress
on his back, such as sitting up and begging. Also, you should be
careful, when holding a Dachshund, to keep his back horizontal.
Holding him like a football, with his rear quarters tucked under your
arm, and your hands supporting his chest usually keeps the back in the
horizontal position, thus reducing stress on the back. I don't wish to
convey the impression that Dachshunds are fragile dogs - they're not
(after all, they were bred for hunting). I just think that an ounce of
prevention goes a long way. And if you accidentally hold one the wrong
way, it's not like he will immediately develop back problems, either.
But you might as well take reasonable precautions.
Frequently Asked Questions
ARE THEY EASY TO HOUSEBREAK?
Housebreaking can be difficult with Dachshunds. I've spoken with
numerous people who have Dachshunds, and I've found it's not
uncommon to hear things like "she's 95% reliable." Personally, I
think it's their independent nature that makes them difficult to
housebreak. It's not that they don't know any better, or that they
maliciously want to be disobedient; it's just that they don't always
see the necessity of relieving themselves outside (especially in bad
weather), and they are willing to accept the consequences. Unless
you're a real ogre, the minute you see one look up at you with his
inquisitive, adoring expression, capped off with his brown, almond
shaped, soulful eyes, you'll understand why they often get away with
I WANT TO TRAIN MY DACHSHUND TO START MY CAR ON
REALLY COLD DAYS. WILL THIS BE POSSIBLE?
Probably not, but it would not be due to lack of trying. Simply put,
their short legs give them a severe handicap when it comes to
reaching the gas pedal. That, and the lack of an opposable thumb
would make this task unlikely . However, Dachshunds are very
intelligent dogs. Let me qualify that. They learn fast, but only
when it suits their purposes. Remember that independence trait?
Well, that tends to make them stubborn, which makes them a challenge
to train. Although they can learn, they definitely have their own
agenda, which may or may not coincide with yours. They can (and
should) be trained with proper motivation, but figuring out what
motivates your Dachshund might be a challenge. (A hint: one common
motivational factor among Dachshunds seems to be treats. Being
hounds, they love to eat.) But they are also very clever in ways
you'd never expect. It's not impossible to show a Dachshund in the
obedience ring, but it's definitely not the most common dog for this
purpose. Although I don't compete in obedience trials, I did take
Chillie to obedience class, and continued with the training even
after the class was finished. She now has a nice repertoire of
obedience commands and other assorted tricks, but it took a great
deal of consistent and patient training to motivate her.
HOW ARE THEY WITH CHILDREN?
Dachshunds can be very good with children, provided they are
socialized properly when they are puppies. I often let mine play
with the children in the neighborhood, including babies, when I
first got her (I still do), and I believe, at least in part, this
made her very good and tolerant of children of all ages. Still, no
matter how good any animal is with children, you should never leave
DO THEY BARK A LOT? WHAT DO THEY SOUND LIKE?
Once they find their voice (at about 18 months), they have barks th
at sound like they come from much bigger dogs, making them good
watch dogs - not guard dogs (which will actually attack) but watch
dogs, which only make a lot of noise.
DO THEY HAVE ANY FUNNY HABITS?
One peculiar thing they do is to roll around in smelly things when
they encounter them. This is due to their hunting instinct. While
doing this, they are trying to "lose their scent" so that their prey
cannot smell them. Chillie tries to do this, but I'm usually pretty
quick to detect when she's about to do it, and I put an end to it
rather quickly. (Whenever she gets too interested in something, I
know there's potential trouble!) Another carry-over from their
hunting days is that they love to dig. Although this trait is
usually seen outdoors, it also follows them into the house, where
they like to tunnel through blankets until they get it "just right."
TELL ME, DO THEY SHED, ARE THEY CLEAN, AND DO THEY SMELL?
They are medium shedders, relatively clean, and they have little or
no doggy odor. They don't need to be bathed often (less than once a
month, unless, of course, they've gotten into something, which
they're known to do).
HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO THEY NEED?
They require a modest amount of exercise. Two walks of moderate
distance (each about 1/2 mile) a day should be pretty good. More if
you're so inclined. They're a long-lived breed, which can live up to
16 years or more with proper care. Because they are such social
creatures, they don't do well as outdoor dogs - they need to be with
THEY SOUND ADORABLE. WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE?
You can retrieve a picture of Chillie via anonymous FTP from
nowaksg.chem.nd.edu under /pub/pictures/chillie.jpg (size is about
IT SOUNDS LIKE A DACHSHUND IS THE DOG FOR ME. WHERE CAN I GET ONE?
If you decide that a Dachshund is the breed for you, I'd highly
recommend going to a reputable breeder, where you can talk to the
breeder, and meet the parents of the puppies. Being such a popular
breed, I'm sure there are breeders who are more interested in making
money than breeding well-tempered, healthy dogs. Or, if you want to
save a dog, consider a Dachshund rescue league, or rescuing a
Dachshund from a local animal shelter. With proper care,
socialization, and training, they can be wonderful companions for
many, many years.
For more information (including the location of Dachshund clubs and
breeders in your area), write to:
Dachshund Club of America
Carl Holder, Secretary
1130 Redoak Dr.
Lumberton, TX 77657
Dachshund Club of America
Jan Oswald, Information Officer
P.O. Box 670
Cabazon, CA 92230
If you would like to find out about Dachshund Breed Rescue
Organizations, write to the national contact at:
Dachshund Club of America
Emma Jean Stephenson
3040 Old Darlington Rd.
Road, Beaver Falls, PA 15010
To receive a pamphlet on Canine Intervebral Disk Disease, please contact:
Health and Welfare Chairperson
Dachshund Club of America
1130 Redoak Drive
Lumberton, TX 77657
Fiedelmeier, Leni, Dachshunds, A Complete Pete Owner's Manual,
Everything about Care, Training, and Health, Barron's Educational
Series, Inc., New York, 1985.
Heesom, Elizabeth, Dachshunds: An Owner's Companion, Macmillan
Publishing Company, New York, 1991.
Katherine Nicholas, Anna and Foy, Marcia, The Dachshund, New Jersey,
Lawson, Deborah, The Indomitable Dachshund, DogFancy Magazine, Fancy
Publications, Inc., December, 1993.
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