With their long bodies, soft, floppy ears, and short legs, dachshunds — also known as “weiner” or “sausage” dogs — are one of the most recognizable dog breeds. This small but courageous breed is sure to charm you at first sight.
But before you bring home a dachshund, it’s important to know if you’ll be able to provide the best possible home for one. Understanding a dachshund’s temperament and personality is key to making this decision.
In this article, you’ll learn about the dachshund’s fascinating history, basic characteristics, care needs, temperament, and training tips. Read on to find out if a dachshund would suit your lifestyle!
What should I know about the dachshund’s history?
Dachshunds were bred in 17th-century Germany as hunting dogs — specifically, badger hunters. In fact, the German translation of “dachshund” is simply “badger dog”.
This tiny dog was bred with short legs so they could track badgers easily by scent. Once they picked up the scent, they would follow it to the animal’s burrow, and their long, narrow body would wriggle into the burrow to drive the badger out. Their loud bark was useful for hunters, too, as they used it to make their location known after they tracked down the prey.
Dachshunds eventually made their way to the United States and became recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as an official breed in 1885. By 2021, they ranked number 10 among the most popular dog breeds.
But it wasn’t an easy road to popularity. During both WWI and WWII, the demand for dachshunds slowed due to the breed’s German connection.
In response — and in an effort to improve the breed’s reputation — proponents of the dachshund began using the nicknames “liberty pup” and “badger dog.”
Fun fact: The 1972 Munich Olympic Games were a highlight event for dachshunds. The first official Olympic mascot was a dachshund that represented “endurance, tenacity, and agility.” The Olympic marathon route was also shaped like a dachshund.
What should I expect for a dachshund’s size and weight?
Dachshunds come in two sizes: standard and miniature. Originally bred as hunters, this breed’s small size was perfect for pursuing badgers. As rabbit hunting started taking over in popularity, the standard dachshund became a little too large, and the breed began being bred to be smaller, leading to the miniature variety.
Standard dachshunds stand around 9 inches tall and weigh between 16 and 32 pounds. Miniature dachshunds are slightly shorter at around 6 inches tall and weigh much less (11 pounds or less).
Other than their height and weight, there are very few other differences between standard dachshunds and miniature dachshunds.
How much exercise does a dachshund need?
Dachshunds require regular exercise to stay fit. They need to maintain muscle mass to support and protect their long backs. To build up muscle and keep your dachshund in shape, they’ll need around 60 minutes of exercise each day.
Since that’s a lot of work for this breed’s short legs, you’ll want to break that up into shorter sessions — maybe two to three times a day and 20–30 minutes per session.
As natural hunters, dachshunds are known for their intelligence and agility. You can factor this into their exercise by playing hide and seek or adding agility training to their routine. Whatever the type of exercise, this breed is happiest when they’re playing with their human companions.
Make sure that you keep your dachshund’s exercise sessions low to the ground (on the ground is best) to help them avoid injury to their backs. They shouldn’t be jumping on or off furniture or other obstacles.
What should you feed your dachshund?
Because of your dachshund’s size and vulnerable back, you’ll want to keep them at a healthy weight – this is a breed prone to obesity. Just like any other breed, dachshunds need a high-quality, balanced diet of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, with protein being the most important.
What they don’t need is table scraps!
Not only can giving your dachshund table scraps lead to begging, but it can also introduce foods to their diet that are too high in fat — and therefore detrimental to their health.
Dachshunds will typically eat whenever food is available, so you’ll want to keep your pet on a schedule. Puppies should eat small meals three times a day, and adults should eat twice a day.
Don’t allow your dog to graze, and make sure you stick with the serving size your vet recommends. While your dachshund’s serving size will depend on their age, size, and activity level, adult dachshunds typically eat between 1 and 1.5 cups of dry food a day. Check with your vet for your individual pet’s dietary needs.
What about a dachshund’s coat and grooming needs?
The dachshund’s coat comes in a variety of color combinations, and kennel clubs differ in terms of accepted colors. The AKC lists standard coat colors as black and cream, black and tan, blue and cream, blue and tan, chocolate and cream, chocolate and tan, cream, fawn and cream, fawn and tan, red, wheaten, and wild boar. Non-standard colors include black, chocolate, and fawn on their own. Dapple (also called merle) and brindle colorings may be accepted depending on certain components.
Coat variety also extends to three types of coats: smooth-coated, wirehaired, and longhaired.
What should I know about the 3 coats, and how should I groom each?
All Dachshunds shed to a degree, no matter their coat type. One thing to note, though, is that the three coat types have different grooming requirements.
Smooth-coated dachshunds typically have dense, short, smooth hair. They are the easiest dachshund type to groom, as they don’t need much brushing. They typically just need their coat wiped down once a week.
Wirehaired dachshunds take a little more effort to groom, but the amount of time required for this task is still quite minimal. This variety is known for its beard and bushy eyebrows which can catch water, food, and debris, so it’s important to clean them daily. Their outer coat is coarse and needs brushing only once or twice a week to keep matting at bay.
Longhaired dachshunds have a straight or wavy coat with longer fur that’s typically longest on the chest and belly. This variety needs frequent brushing — around three times per week — to keep dirt (and anything else they pick up on walks) from matting their coat.
Other grooming tips
The dachshund’s long ears were originally intended to keep dirt out of their ears while entering burrows during badger hunts. You’ll want to check your dachshund’s ears regularly (whether they dig or not) to remove any dirt or wax buildup and prevent ear infections.
Regular nail trims are also important for keeping your dachshund happy and healthy!
Are Dachshunds a relatively healthy breed?
Yes, dachshunds are typically a very healthy breed. A well-cared-for dachshund’s life expectancy is 12–16 years. Some have even been known to live longer, up to 18 years old!
The two most common health issues for dachshunds are back problems and obesity. These problems can lead to the following conditions:
- Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD): IVDD is a neurological disorder that results from spinal discs slipping or rupturing. Due to dachshunds’ long backs and short, muscular legs, IVDD is a common disorder in this breed — roughly 25% of dachshunds develop it at some point in their lives.
If your pet has IVDD, you might notice that they have pain in their back. They might also refuse (or be unable) to walk or run or have difficulty urinating and/or defecating.
Fortunately, IVDD is generally a treatable disease — though treatment is expensive. While surgery is often required, there is a non-surgical treatment route if the disease is caught early, such as medications and long-term pain management. If you have questions about this condition, talk to your vet for more information.
To protect your dachshund’s back, consider adding small ramps or steps if they’re allowed access to your couches or beds. You’ll also want to keep your dachshund from running up and down stairs whenever possible.
- Diabetes: Dachshunds are more prone to diabetes than other breeds due to their love for food – especially table scraps – and their small, stout bodies. Dachshunds that are obese or have a high fat intake can develop inflammation in their pancreas, which can lead to diabetes.
If you notice your pet drinking excessively, having accidents indoors, or needing to go outside to urinate more often than usual, consult your vet. It is especially important to see a vet if your dachshund is also overweight.
Other health issues in dachshunds are similar to those found in many other dog breeds, including luxating patella (also known as “floating kneecaps”), ear infections, cataracts, glaucoma, and dental disease. Regular grooming and checkups are key to staying ahead of potential health issues.
What’s the dachshund temperament like?
When discussing a breed’s temperament and personality, it’s worth noting the difference between these two terms.
Dachshund temperaments are inherent in the breed and therefore present at birth.
Personality, however, is a mix of the breed’s innate temperament and your specific pet’s experience and/or environment. A dachshund’s personality can change, whereas temperament can’t.
At betterpet, we aim to be inclusive of all pet breeds, regardless of their stereotypes. Studies have shown that breed isn’t the sole predictor of a pet’s behavior — in fact, it’s only 9% of the variations in behavior among dogs.
Protective and loyal
Dachshunds have a large dog’s bravery in a small dog’s body. Your dachshund will likely take on the role of a vigilant protector. This makes them an excellent watchdog.
These loyal dogs can take a while to warm up to strangers, but they typically develop strong bonds with their owners and family members.
Dachshunds’ loyalty to their pet parents and other family members is a key component of the dachshund temperament. They’re comparable to larger breeds like a rottweiler in this respect.
Their ability to bond with people quickly is proof of their loving nature. You’ll want to socialize and train your dachshund as early as possible, though, to keep them from becoming jealous and developing separation anxiety.
Intelligent and independent
Dachshunds are a highly intelligent, focused breed. This means it’s pretty hard to distract them once they’re set on a task.
During their hunting days, this natural determination helped them sniff out prey, and they would stay with the animal they were pursuing until the job was done. Today’s dachshunds love puzzle games, agility training, scent games, and other forms of mental stimulation.
Their extreme focus can make dachshunds quite stubborn and difficult to train at times, so be ready for them to test your patience! When in doubt, reach out to a professional trainer or behaviorist for help.
Are male and female Dachshund temperaments different?
The two sexes can have slight differences. Males tend to be more playful and affectionate, while females tend to be more independent. Along with the extra independence, females tend to focus on tasks a bit more than males.
Ultimately, male dachshunds typically stay in the “puppy” stage longer, while female dachshunds may mature a little faster.
How can training help a dachshund develop a positive personality?
Knowing that the dachshund is innately protective, loyal, intelligent, and independent may make training yours a little less difficult.
Because dachshunds are smart and tend to be stubborn, positive training is your chance to help mold your pooch’s personality. Getting a head start and training your dachshund pup early is the easiest method. Puppies are eager to please and they respond well to positive reinforcement.
Proper training begins with socialization. Introducing your dachshund to different people, pets, and environments will help them feel more comfortable with new experiences and reduce the likelihood of developing aggression.
And if you have children — especially young children — it’s just as important to teach them how to interact with your new pet. They might be a little smaller, like a shih tzu, but they have plenty of energy to spare!
You’ll also want to train your pup to respond to your call. Dachshunds have a high prey drive, so if they see a small animal (like a squirrel they’ll chase that animal with a laser focus. Training them to respond to you no matter what will help keep your dachshund’s independence from taking over.
Proper training can help minimize loud barking and burrowing as well. Since most dachshunds love to dig, you’ll definitely want to train your pup to know where they’re allowed to dig (if at all) and where they’re not.
Remember, dachshunds love to learn new things and make their owners happy. Positive reinforcement, patience, and consistency will not only make training easier but will also help you develop a strong bond with your dog.
Is the dachshund right for your family?
Dachshunds are fascinating and fun family members. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before deciding whether you can provide a positive home for them:
- Can you accommodate your living area for a dachshund to protect its back and give its space to practice its tendency to hunt?
- Do you have the patience to train your dachshund and reinforce positive behaviors?
- Will your children (if you have any) be able to interact with your dachshund kindly and respectfully?
If you answered yes to these questions, then the dachshund might be a perfect match for you. And if you want more resources to look into your potential pet’s needs, visit betterpet today!