Dachshund History

Dachshund History – where and how did Dachshunds arise?

You might be asking yourself what is Dachshund history and where did they come from? This page is going to answer just that question. There is a lot of interesting Dachshund history out there – sit back as we begin with the origins of the Dachshund.

Origin of the Dachshund.

The official origin of the Dachshund can be traced to Germany in the 15th Century where two sizes of dachshunds were bred primarily for hunting. The Standard Dachshund was bred mainly for sniffing and flushing out badgers and other similar burrow-dwelling mammals, whereas the Miniature Dachshund was bred mainly for hunting rabbits. Dachshunds have also been used for hunting prairie dogs and tracking deer in the United States.

The name Dachshund literally means badger dog in German, deriving from the German words ‘Dachs‘ and ‘Hund‘. In modern Germany, the dachshund is more commonly known as Dackel or Teckel, with Teckel more commonly used amongst hunters. Dachshunds are also commonly known as wiener dogs or sausage dogs because of their long, slender, ‘sausage’-like body and build.

The front paws of dachshunds are paddle-shaped which helps them with any ‘extreme’ digging, which can be especially useful when hunting and chasing badgers, rabbits, and other mammals. The dachshund’s deep chest can provide the dogs with increased lung capacity for when they are hunting underground.

An example of an early Dachshund from the 1800s

It is believed that Dachshunds were bred from dwarf mutations of taller hunting hounds like the Schweisshund (bloodhound) and the Bibarhund. Hunters gradually shortened their legs through selective breeding in a desire to perfect the breed for going down holes for Rabbits and Badgers.

Breed sizes, coat types and colours.

There are three different coat types for dachshunds; smooth haired, wire haired and long haired. Wirehaired dachshunds are the most common variety of dachshund in Germany, and the least common in the USA. There is also a wide variety of coat colours amongst dachshunds. They can be either in just one colour of either Red or Cream, tan pointed which come in the following colours; Black and Tan, Chocolate and Tan, Blue and Tan, or Isabella and Tan, and Wild Boar, which is a more common colour for Wirehaired Dachshunds. There can also be a number of patterns that can occur on any of the base colours, such as Dapple (merle), piebald, brindle and sable. Out of all the colours, the most common colours are Red and Black and Tan, with Red being the more dominant out of the two.

From left to right, a Red Long Haired Dachshund, a Black and Tan Smooth Haired Dachshund, a Black and Tan Wirehaired Dachshund

There are actually three different sizes of Dachshund; standard, miniature, and kaninchen or Rabbit in German. Standard and Miniature dachshunds are recognised almost universally, however the Rabbit sized Dachshund is not recognised by clubs in either the United Kingdom, or the USA. The Rabbit size is however recognised by the World Canine Federation (Fédération Cynologique Internationale/FCI) which contains kennel clubs from 83 different countries around the world.

A fully grown standard dachshund can weigh an average of 16lb (7.3kg) to 32lb (15kg), and the miniature variety can weigh less than 12lb (5.4kg). The kaninchen can weigh between 8lb (3.6kg) and 11lb (5.0kg). The eye colour can vary as well, as light coloured dachshunds can often have either amber, green or light brown eyes; however kennel club standards can state that the darker the eye colour, the better. Having eyes of two different colours can happen, but is more commonly found in dapple and double dapple dachshunds. The eye colours can be any combination from blue and brown, brown and green or green and blue. Having a blue eye and a brown eye, two blue eyes, or even partially blue eyes is known as “wall” colouring, which can be considered a non-desirable trait under kennel club standards.

Temperament.

A Dachshund’s temperament is known to be playful, but quite stubborn. The stubbornness can cause some dachshunds to be quite a challenge to train as a result. The temperament and body language of a dachshund can sometimes give off the impression that they either do not know or care about their small size, and as a breed on a whole, dachshunds are incredibly devoted and loyal to their owners.

I think she’s enjoying that packet of crisps.

As a result of the breed’s history as diggers and burrowing in tunnels to find badgers, Dachshunds will often show burrowing behaviour, which can be burrowing into blankets and other items when they are bored or tired. Dachshunds are also incredibly intelligent, and are renowned for being very independent. Their playfulness can be fun as they can make a game out of almost anything, including something as simple as mopping the floor. Many Dachshund owners will testify to their intelligence, including puzzle solving and taking advantage of any opportunity afforded to them.

Dachshunds have been popular throughout history due to their friendly and outgoing temperament, and a perfect addition to any family with children.

Dachshund Health.

The average litter size of a dachshund can be between 4 and 8, and they can live to anywhere from 12 years old up to 17 years old.

The breed can be prone to certain health problems, just like any other breed of dog. Dachshunds are particularly prone to spinal problems such as intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), which is due, in part, to the breed having a short rib cage and a very long spinal column.
They can also be prone to other problems, such as patellar luxation, which is where the kneecap can become dislodged, and Osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease. Spinal injuries can be worsened by even simple things like obesity, intense exercise, rough handling or even jumping. Some double dapples can be prone to having varying degrees of vision and hearing loss.

Dachshunds can also be prone to other ailments such as Cushing’s Syndrome, hereditary epilepsy, and other various eye problems such as cataract, glaucoma, and cherry eye.

History.

Some experts have theorised that the early roots of the dachshund actually date back to Ancient Egypt, where engravings were found to be featuring short legged, hunting dogs incredibly similar to the dachshund. There has also been a handful of recent discoveries by the American University in Cairo of ancient Egyptian burial urns containing mummified dachshund-like dogs. The modern dachshund we know now is primarily a German breed, which includes some elements of French, English, and German hounds and terriers. Queen Victoria was a fan of the breed, and was known to keep dachshunds herself, as the breed was kept in a number of royal courts throughout Europe. The Dachshund was originally larger than the modern day standard variety and used to weigh between 31lb (16kg) and 40lb (18kg).

Symbol of Germany.

Dachshund Dog Exhibition in Berlin (1905) Artist : Georg Belwe (Germany, 1878-1954)

The Dachshund has traditionally always been seen as a symbol of Germany, and political cartoonists have used the image of the breed as a way to ridicule Germany. As a result of it being a symbol of Germany, the popularity of the breed plummeted greatly in the USA because of the association during World War 1, and the stigma of the association was revived during World War 2, but to a lesser short-lived extent. The dachshund was then called “liberty hounds” by the owners, similar to the term “liberty cabbage” for sauerkraut in North America.

Sportiness in Dachshunds.

The Dachshund was chosen to be the first official mascot for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, with the name Waldi, and this was due to the association of the breed with Germany, as well as the popularity of the breed among dog keepers in Munich.

In America, people train and enter their dachshunds in competitive sports, such as the Wiener Nationals. The Wiener Nationals are the national Dachshund racing championships sponsored by Wienerschnitzel held in the USA. There are regional qualifiers held in the Southwestern United States, which are California, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada, with the final 8 competing  for the national title as part of the Holiday Bowl every December held in San Diego. There are also a large number of races held throughout the USA, including races in Tennessee, Louisiana, Minnesota, Milwaukee, and Kansas. There is also an annual race held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, called  the Wiener 100, and another one called the Dachshund Dash held in Huntington, West Virginia.

Famous Owners in Dachshund history.

Queen Victoria was a quite prominent owner of dachshunds as she was rather enamoured by the breed. Indeed, they have cemented their place in the UK after she imported several of the breeds and can be credited with introducing them to the British Isles. Dachshunds continue to thrive in the Royal Family to this day, including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who is also fond of them.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother with one of her Dachshunds

Kaiser Wilhelm II and German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel were also owners of the breed. Two of the dachshunds belonging to Kaiser Wilhelm II were Wadl and Hexl, famous for doing away with a priceless golden pheasant at Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s country seat, almost causing an international incident as a result. Another of his, Senta, is currently buried at his Manor, Huis Doorn, in the Netherlands.

Just a few of the well known and respected famous people who owned a Dachshund.

Other famous owners include the likes of Andy Warhol, who owned two, called Archie and Amos who he depicted in some of his paintings and mentioned frequently in his diaries,  John F. Kennedy, who bought a dachshund puppy for his then girlfriend Olivia, until he developed allergies and as a result, the puppy never left Germany, Grover Cleveland (the 22nd and 24th President), and General Claire Lee Chennault, commander of the Flying Tigers and then the China Air Task Force of The US Army Air Force.

In more modern times, Dachshunds have seen a resurgence in popularity as they have appeared in numerous advertisements on newspapers, websites and even TV ads. An example of modern social trends is “celebrity” animals like Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund.