Characteristics and special needs of the Dachshund
As is the case with so many terrier or hound types of dog, the Dachshund was originally a larger and more fearsome animal that was bred specially as a hunter of burrowing animals such as badgers, foxes and weasels. Its name is a good clue, “Dachs” being German for badger. It has always been the ideal shape for going down narrow tunnels in search of its prey but, nowadays, this is primarily a pet dog and a very popular one at that. Commonly known as the “wiener” or “sausage dog” it comes in three main varieties – smooth (shorthaired), wirehaired and longhaired. The smooth version is probably most commonly seen.
Unfortunately that shape – an elongated body and short legs – can be a real problem for the dog’s health. There is constant strain on the dog’s back and it is prone to painful conditions if picked up wrongly or if he unwisely jumps from even modest heights, such as the furniture at home. The back is so fragile that slipped or ruptured disks can easily occur and the result might be full or partial paralysis. The dog’s weight must be constantly monitored but, if taken good care of, the Dachshund makes an excellent pet dog for people living in flats or small houses.
This is certainly a lively and playful dog and loves being close to people in his home. He will often seem to be mischievous and loves chasing small animals and birds but there is no real malice in his actions. He is, essentially, a pet dog with no obviously aggressive nature but there is occasionally a throw back to his origins as a badger sett digger. This takes the form of vigorous and enthusiastic digging in the flower beds. If left unchecked he would probably be down several feet in no time.
Oddly enough, for a relatively small dog, the Dachshund has a deep and quite loud bark which again lends itself to his origins – a loud bark was useful when burrowed deep underground. This is, generally speaking, a docile dog who responds well to firm and patient training. He will, once socialised and mature, prove to be a loyal and trusting canine companion.
The popularity of this breed is worldwide although, in the early part of the 20th century, they were less so in America and Britain following the outbreak of WW1. Numbers in these locations dipped again in the middle of the century but soon recovered later on. It is a curious fact that some countries in Europe (France in particular) still use this breed of dog for hunting while others see them as a loveable, if comical looking, family pet.