Famously described by H. L. Mencken as “a half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long,” the Dachshund ranks among the most popular dog breeds in America. These short-legged, long-backed dogs are brave, bold and sometimes reckless, willing and ready to take on the badgers they were bred to hunt. To the surprise of their many fans, a 2008 study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science named the Dachshund the most aggressive of all dog breeds.
Dachshunds are active, fun-loving dogs, but they can also be hard to housetrain, willful and feisty, which might make them a poor choice for many families, particularly those with children. Dachshunds are also wary of strangers and tend to bark loudly when their suspicions are aroused – or because a leaf blew across the lawn. That tendency to bark at the least provocation is just one of many reasons a Dachshund cannot be left alone out in the yard or live outdoors.
The breed descended from dogs bred to fearlessly follow prey into underground burrows and tunnels – a job a few of them still manage. Those traits make the Dachshund determined to the point of stubbornness, a bit aggressive with other dogs and an enthusiastic digger.
For those who love the breed, there’s a lot of variety: Dachshunds come in two sizes – the standard, weighing between 16 and 32 pounds, and the miniature, which is 11 pounds and under. They also come in three coat types: smooth, wirehaired and longhaired. All three coat types come in a variety of colors and markings, including solid colored, dappled and marked with white.
Dachshunds are good family dogs if they are brought up with kids, but it’s important to supervise play so that children don’t pick up or hold them incorrectly. Their adaptable nature and moderate exercise needs make them appropriate for anyone from young singles or couples to seniors.
Other Quick Facts
The Dachshund’s coat comes in an endless variety of colors and patterns. Solid red is probably the most popular color, but you will also see Dachshunds in cream, black, chocolate, brindle and dapple — lighter-colored areas contrasting with a darker base color.
Dachshunds are always alert and they have a big, deep bark. Both qualities make them superb watchdogs.
It’s a good idea to have ramps or steps up to furniture so the Dachshund doesn’t hurt his back jumping on or off the sofa or bed.
Protect the Dachshund’s back by holding him correctly: one arm tucked beneath his hind end and one supporting his front end at the chest, keeping the body in a horizontal position.