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Dachshunds (pronounced 'DAKS hund' - never 'dash-hound') come in 3 types: Smooth (shorthaired), Wirehaired and Longhaired. They are either miniature (9-15lbs / 4-7kg as an adult) or standard (15-32lbs / 7-15kg as an adult). In Germany, the official birthplace of the breed, Dachshunds are known as Standard, Miniature, or Kaninchenteckel (Rabbit), based on a chest measurement taken at the age of fifteen months. In the US the sub-miniature variety commonly called Rabbit, usually weighs around 8.3lbs / 3.8kg and can be as low as 5.5lbs / 2.5kg. The term Rabbit refers to the fact that they were bred especially small to hunt rabbits. Their antecedents have been known since the Middle Ages, although officially they were first bred to enhance certain traits in Germany in 1888 by Deutsche Teckelklub 1888 e.V.
In Germany, Dachshunds were divided into two divisions - the Geradbeinige Dachshund, a taller straight legged dog used for hunting above ground and driving deer to the gun, and the Krummbeinige Dachshund, a crooked-legged smaller type used for routing-out fox, badger, and weasel from underground dens and tunnels. Dachshunds are also known for their endurance ability, tracking wounded deer and wild boars 10 to 15 miles without difficulty and without loss of breath, especially the wirehaired, as foresters bred them for tracking through brush, heavy undergrowth etc. The popularity of the shorter legged variety in the UK and US has suppressed the Geradbeinige's, but they are still seen in Eastern Europe, the Baltic states and Russia.
Dachshunds have been described as having 'the body of a sausage, the brain of a fox, the heart of a lion and the bark of a Doberman'. This small, drop-eared dog is tough enough to take on a badger and it is how they got their name - Dachs meaning badger; hund meaning hound or dog.
No matter what their size, Dachshunds are a fantastic addition to any family and that is why they have ranked close to the top of all preferred dogs lists since the 1950's. Their cute look and spirited character have inspired many affectionate nicknames for the breed, including wiener, hot dog, sausage dog, Doxie, Dashie, Daxie and (in Germany) Teckels or Dackels.
You can only smile after you look at a confident dachshund, carrying his long, muscular body with great pride, on short legs, his elongated head held high with a defiant, intelligent look in his eyes. Due to their often comical appearance, Dachshunds have long been a favourite subject of cartoonists and toy manufacturers, however, their cute appearance was developed for a
much more serious and logical reason. Their short legs allow them to dig and manoeuvre through tunnels and fight badgers and other below-ground dwelling animals such as foxes and rabbits and their barrel-like chests give them great "heart" for the fight. Dachshunds are known to be brave, but they can also be very stubborn and have an independent spirit, especially when hunting.
At home, the Dachshund's overriding desire to be part of the pack comes out. They like to be near you and 'help' you do things like tying your shoes. Their intelligence shows in that they usually have their own thoughts regarding the rules, which are unlikely to be the same as yours or as other breeds of dogs. Dachshunds are well-known for being huge characters and derive great joy in chasing other animals, birds and toys. The Breed Standard describes their temperament well "The Dachshund is clever, lively, and courageous to the point of rashness, persevering in above and below ground work, with all the senses well-developed. Any display of shyness is a serious fault."
Dachshunds have emotional eyes and sophisticated facial expressions. Their lungs are huge for a dog of this size and this gives them a barrel-like chest. Dachshunds have a loud, deep bark that sounds like it comes from a much larger dog and is often a surprise when heard for the first time - even to them!
Dachshunds usually bond closely with one person and they can become jealous of their owner's attention and might, if not properly trained and socialised, become snappy.
Smooth (shorthaired) Dachshunds are the most fashionable variety in many countries. Their coats are glossy and require very little grooming. They may need an external coat in the winter if you reside in a locality with severe weather conditions.
Common colours are red, cream, black and tan, black and cream, chocolate and tan, blue and tan, and Isabella (fawn) and tan.
Dachshunds can also have patterns in their coats, like dapple (dark or light patches on it, or that is made up of patches of light and shade), brindle, sable and pied.
Longhaired Dachshunds have sleek, slightly wavy hair and can be identical in colour to the smooth dachshunds.
They should be brushed daily, particularly around their elbows, pits and ears to avoid matting or tangling of the hair.
The Longhaired Dachshund tends to have a more docile temperament than the Smooth or Wirehair, but is none-the-less mischevious and characterful despite that.
Wirehaired Dachshunds have lean, short, thick, usually rough coats with bushy eyebrows and a beard, but some have a recessive gene (dominant gene) that gives them a soft coat.
Like smooth Dachshunds, they're often mischievous. They will not need an added coat in the winter, however, they do need to be brushed regularly to stop the hair matting.
Their coat colours are similar to the other varieties, but the most fashionable tend to be brindle (a mixture of black, brown and grey), black and tan, various shades of red and even blonde - see our Gallery for some examples.
Dachshunds were seen as an emblem of the German nation and because of this association, they lost their popularity in the US during World War I and World War II. However, their charm was too great for this to persist and the breed quickly regained appeal. In 1972 a Dachshund named Waldi was chosen to be the official mascot for the Summer Olympics, held that year in Munich.
Dachshunds make great pets to have if you live in flats/apartments or if you do not have a garden. They're fashionable city residents thanks to their small size (miniatures) and generally simple care. They're usually active inside, but do love daily walks and socialising with other Dachshunds. Take care not to allow them to get fat or to injure their backs by jumping on or off furniture and make sure to support their backs when holding them, as owing to their long spine, they're at risk of slipped or damaged disks, which may end in partial or full paralysis - an injury known as IVDD - see Health section.
They are such a preferred pedigree that a lot of folks breed Dachshunds to make money, instead of out of a love for the breed and there is a great need for healthy, good-natured dogs to continue their strong lineage. Take care to get your Dachshund from a reputable breeder where you can see the puppies with their mother and have assured proof of their father. Breeders should also provide first injections and a medical statement saying that puppies are clear of cord1 PRA, Lafora and other issues - see Health section. Beware advertisements for double dapple variety, as these are particularly prone to ongoing and long-term health issues, even though their colour combination is very appealing.
The Dachshund is a naturally friendly breed and with a great sense of curiosity, neither nervous nor aggressive, with a balanced temperament. It is a passionate, persevering and fast hunting dog with an excellent nose and is highly suited as a family companion due to its friendly character. Additionally, they are hard-working and well-appreciated medical care dogs, as they like little better than having their bellies rubbed and ears scratched.
Their faithful companionship is a testament to how many celebrities, currently alive and also historically, have had them as their closest confidantes - see our Gallery section for who they might be.