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Dapple dachshund

Breed overview

  • Breed group – Hound Group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height – 8 to 9 inches
  • Weight – 11 to 32 pounds
  • Coat length & texture – Coats can be smooth or wiry in texture, and short, medium, or long in length. 
  • Coat color – Most commonly, dapple dachshunds have a dark base coat color (tan, chocolate, or black) with flecks of lighter spots all over the body. Cream, blue, and silver are also possible coat colors, as well as red which is more rare.
  • Exercise needs – Moderate
  • Intelligence – Very intelligent 
  • Barking – When necessary
  • Life span – 12 to 16 years
  • Temperament – Smart, affectionate, vigilant, playful, and stubborn
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Origin – Germany

👉 No dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic, but some are better than others for allergy sufferers.

Dapple dachshund fun facts

  • Dapple dachshunds are not a separate breed. They’re actually just dachshunds with a unique coat pattern. It only takes a single spot to be labeled “dapple.”
  • Nicknames include “sausage dog,” “wiener dog,” “dotson,” and “doxie.” But, interestingly, the dachshund, and not the hot dog, came first. The food was first called the “dachshund sausage” because it resembled the breed, and was later dubbed the hot dog.
  • Dachshunds are perennially popular companions. Famous owners over the years included Carole Lombard, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Franz Ferdinand.

Dapple dachshund temperament and characteristics

Incredibly smart, loyal, and independent, dapple dachshunds are great companions. But, they may not be the best choice for first-time owners or families with small children and cats. They have a long history as working dogs, bred to hunt and catch prey underground. If trained from an early age, doxies can learn to quell their strong prey-drive around smaller animals, behave well around older kids, and be friendlier to strangers.

Common dapple dachshund health problems

Unfortunately, the dapple dachshund is prone to several serious health problems due, in part, to the fact that their coat is caused by a genetic mutation. The merle gene responsible for the dapple pattern has higher instances of deafness, blindness, sunlight sensitivity, and higher rates of skin cancer. You’ll also want to beware the “double dapple dachshund,” which occurs when the merle gene comes from both parents. These double merle pups are often born deaf, blind, and in some severe cases, without eyes at all.

  • Eye conditions. In addition to a prevalence for blindness, dapple dachshunds can also suffer from cataracts, cherry eye, corneal ulcers, and progressive retinal atrophy .
  • Autoimmune disorders. Thyroid disorders, particularly hypothyroidism which can lead to obesity if left untreated, and Cushing’s disease, which produces excess thirst, urination, and hair loss can occur in dapple dachshunds of any age.
  • Diabetes mellitus. In humans, diabetes mellitus (DM) can present as Type I or Type II, but only Type I is found in dogs. Dachshunds are particularly susceptible due to their unique genetics. 
  • Bone conditions. The small stature of the dapple dachshund is due to a canine form of achondroplasia, or dwarfism. This genetic mutation can lead to problems with the back and spine, like intervertebral disc disease (IVD), patellar luxation (dislocated knee caps), and osteogenesis imperfecta, an inherited disease that can cause fragile bones and teeth. 
  • Cancers and tumors. Dachshunds, including dapple dachshunds, are particularly prone to developing certain cancers and tumors, though usually not until later in life. The most common of these are mast cell tumors, skin cancer, and especially squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Heart problems. The most common heart problem for the dapple dachshund is patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) which can cause lethargy, coughing, and loss of appetite.

Costs of caring for dapple dachshunds

Many of the above conditions are lifelong issues that require constant care, medication, or even surgery. While you may have a perfectly healthy doxie, free from cancer or heart problems, you can expect your pup to eventually have mobility issues as they age. The long body of the dapple dachshund puts enormous strain on the spine. But you can make life a little less stressful by putting dog ramps and steps in for the places your doxie likes to get to most. 

Health insurance is a good way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses and signing up early will provide the greatest benefits. You might also consider a pet savings account to help stay on budget with your dapple dachsund’s health issues.

History of the dapple dachshund

The dapple dachshund, like its unspotted counterparts, had an important job in 18th century Germany – hunting badgers. In fact, dachshund means “badger dog” in German, and the breed was essential in keeping the growing population of nocturnal carnivores at bay. 

The look of the dapple dachshund is no accident. To fight the badger, which is a ground-burrowing animal, doxies needed long, low bodies with short, powerful legs for digging. They relied on their incredible sense of smell, a trait carried down from their hound dog ancestors, to sniff out their prey. Their bravery and intelligence allowed them to fight the badgers independently. And their bark – surprisingly loud for their size – alerted hunters to their locations underground. Everything, from the prominent breastbone (“the prow”) to the underside of the ribcage (the keel), to their large teeth, was purposely bred into the original dachshunds. 

Breeders took that purposefulness one step further in the 19th century when Germany’s rabbit population spiked, creating the miniature dachshund. As the breed became more of a companion animal and less of a hunting dog, other breeds were blended into the line to create new coat types. The smooth coat is thought to be the original, with potential pointer, terrier, bloodhound, and basset hound ancestry. Wirehaired dachshunds were introduced by breeding smooth coats with rough-coated terriers. And the long-haired dachshund was developed through selective breeding of longer smooth coat dachshunds.

Today, the American Kennel Club recognizes standard and miniature dachshunds in all three coats types, though there is an informal middle size called a “tweenie.”

Caring for your dapple dachshund

Even though they aren’t used for hunting much anymore, that same independence, stubbornness, and tenacity remains. Author E.B. White, who owned a doxie named Fred, once wrote, “When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do.”

Keep this in mind when bringing a new dapple dachshund puppy into your home. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. It’s also a good idea to  puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething


Don’t let their small size fool you. The dapple dachshund needs adequate exercise to stay healthy and keep out of trouble. Plan on one to two walks every day and aim for 60 minutes of total exercise time. Dapple dachshunds don’t do well alone, so if you’re heading out to run errands (at dog-friendly locales), take your doxie along to get those extra steps in.


The amount of grooming required for your dapple dachshund depends on their coat type. Long-haired doxies require frequent brushing to keep the coat free of mats and tangles. The wirehaired variety does better with a few trips to the groomer to pluck or hand-strip the coat. And the short-haired dapple dachshunds require almost no coat maintenance at all beyond a simple wipe with a towel or hound glove. 

You can expect moderate shedding from all three coat varieties, but in general, dapple doxies are clean and nearly odor-free. Monthly nail trimming is also important and, as with most breeds, it’s best to start this ritual early on.

Diet and nutrition 

It’s important not to overindulge your dapple dachshund. They’re strong-willed, but don’t give in. One case of overindulgence that perfectly proves this point is that of a dachshund named Obie who weighed 77 pounds. Thankfully, Obie was eventually able to lose 50 pounds thanks to the determination of his owner. 

Doxies’ long bodies already put enough strain on their spines, so consult your vet for proper food portioning to keep your pup at a healthy weight. You’ll also want to keep snacks and table scraps out of reach. Remember, dapple dachshunds are hounds, and their impressive noses can get them into trouble.

Training your dapple dachshund

Given their scent hound nature, there are several behaviors that need to be addressed at a young age to prevent them from becoming problematic. Digging, barking, stranger aversion, and a high prey drive are all hallmark characteristics of the dapple dachshund. Start early, stay consistent, and use only positive reinforcement when it comes to training. 

They’re fiercely loyal to their owners, but that loyalty comes with an independent streak. Willful doxies will let you know what they want when they want it, so training needs to be more like a game with plenty of correct “options” for them to choose.

Breeds similar to the dapple dachshund

Not quite sure that a dapple dachshund is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Beagle. If you’re looking for a friendly, energetic companion that will get along with just about everybody, a beagle might be right for you. But like the dapple dachshund, be sure to plan for lots of playtime. 
  • Basset hound. A little bigger and heavier, the basset hound is all of the hound without the exercise needs of the dapple dachshund. They’re also great with kids and other dogs.
  • German shepherd. Country of origin isn’t the only thing this breed shares with the dapple dachshund. German shepherds are similar in their exercise and training needs, plus they are also fiercely loyal companions.

Frequently asked questions

Is a dapple dachshund rare?

Dapple dachshunds are considered a rare type of purebred dachshund due to them inheriting the merle gene. 

How much do dapple dachshunds cost?

Reputable breeders are careful not to pass on two copies of the merle gene that’s responsible for the unique dapple coat. Genetic testing of both parents is a common practice and that can make these rare pups more expensive. Plan on paying around $3,000, on average, for a dapple dachshund puppy. 

What does a dapple dachshund look like?

The telltale signs of a dapple dachshund are the spots on their coat. It takes just one spot for a dachshund to be considered “dapple,” but many dapple dachshunds are noticeably flecked all over. Aside from this spotted pattern, the dapple dachshund looks exactly like a regular dachshund, though they do frequently have blue eyes.