The dachshund breed, also known as the weenie dog, doxie, or dauchsie, is laughable to look at.
His long sausage-like body is supported by four powerful but very short legs, while his long nose and long ears complement his short neck and thick chest.
Ranging in size from five to 35 pounds, dachshunds were bred to be hunting dogs, often running in packs to track badgers, foxes, rabbits, weasels, and even wild hogs.
Their indomitable spirit and ear-splitting bark made them perfect hunting companions. Their ability to not only scent a badger in its den but also to chase it down its tunnel demonstrated inborn tenacity.
Bred in Germany from a variety of larger terriers and hounds, dachshunds were brought to the United States in the late 1800s. Artists soon began using the dachshund as inspiration for their cartoons and films.
As early as 1913, a black-and-white silent animated short, The Artist’s Dreams, portrayed a dachshund coming to life and gobbling down a plate of sausages. Dachshunds continued to feature in films over the next century, including the 1945 Humphrey Bogart film All Through the Night, Disney’s 1966 The Ugly Dachshund, and more recently in Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, and Open Season I and II.
The Dachshund’s Appearance
The Dachshund breed comes in three sizes, three coat types, and several colors and patterns. The standard dachshund weighs from 16 to 35 pounds; the “tweenie” dachshund from 12 to 16 pounds, and the miniature dachshund is 11 pounds or under. Their coats come in longhaired, wirehaired, and smooth. Colors include red, black, gray, and white. Dachshunds also come in dapple, double dapple, and piebald patterns.
The Dachshund Personality
Because they were bred to be hunters, dachshunds have a great many characteristics which might not make them the most cuddly or cooperative of pets. They were bred to be stubborn, independent, curious, and tenacious daredevils. Once they scent prey—badgers, foxes, and weasels in earlier centuries; frogs, lizards, birds, and mice in your backyard these days—they never give up.
These traits may make them difficult to train, loud insistent barkers at anything outside their windows, snappy at small children, and hard to housebreak. As a matter of fact, dachshunds will often hide under tables or in closets to “do their business,” especially if the outdoor weather is not to their liking. On the other hand, dachshunds are loyal and loving clowns and have a long lifespan (up to 20 years).
While most dachshunds will warm up to anyone offering them a treat, they often become inseparable from their chosen human. Whether they’re sitting up waving their paws in the air and begging for a “cookie” or rolling over onto their backs demanding a belly rub, dachshunds know how to play the court jester in order to get their way.
Lifespan and Health Issues
As mentioned above, dachshunds have a relatively long lifespan. If kept in good health and in particular, kept slender and active, they can live into their late teens. Keeping dachshunds slim and trim is especially important because their long spine is susceptible to injury that can permanently cripple them.
Due to over breeding, some dachshunds are genetically predisposed to degenerative disc disease, making it more likely they will suffer anything from pain to paralysis due to injury or aging. Another health risk for dachshunds concerns the double dapple type, which may be born blind, deaf, or with underdeveloped or no eyes.
Dachshund Breed Events
Because dachshunds are such comical figures, there are many Hallow-weenie costume parties and parades around the US each year, often sponsored by dachshund rescue organizations.
Since the dachshund breed loves to run (probably harking back to their tracking and hunting origins), many towns hold annual weenie dog races. Dachshund lovers set up groups where they meet, bring their dachshunds, and talk about their fascination with these “hot dogs on legs.” One will rarely find a dog lover as fanatical about their breed as the devoted dachshund owner.
Is the dachshund the right dog for you?
Dachshunds are the seventh most popular dog in the US. If you like a feisty, funny, independent canine companion, the dachshund may be just the breed for you. As long as you don’t mind him barking at the sound of a leaf falling, dashing away from you at the sight of a butterfly, or protecting you from even your best friend, you will enjoy your special weenie dog bond for many years to come.