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Dachshund looking at camera

The essentials

  • A breed with a long history — The dachshund has reportedly been around since at least the 15th century.
  • They’re tough little pups — Dachshunds were originally bred to hunt badgers, foxes, and even packs of wild boar.
  • There’s a chance you’re saying it wrong — The correct way to pronounce dachshund is “dock-sund.” Other nicknames for the dachshund include the wiener dog, sausage dog, hot dog and doxie.

Origins of the dachshund

Dachshunds were originally bred in Germany. The German word “dachshund” translates to “badger dog,” and their tenacious hunting skills is what these small animals were originally bred to do. Originally known as the Teckel in Germany, the breed was cultivated by German foresters in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In 1879, the breed standard of the dachshund was written, and in 1888, the German Dachshund Club was founded. Dachshunds made their way to America around this time as well. They were registered with the American Kennel Club in 1885, and the Dachshund Club of America was established in 1895. Today, dachshunds rank sixth among the most popular breeds in the American Kennel Club.

Dachshunds as hunting dogs

The German foresters responsible for breeding the doxie in the 18th and 19th centuries wanted a dog that could dig into badger burrows and found the dachshunds’  long backs and short legs ideal. The breeders purposefully cultivated the dachshund’s tenacious, fearless spirit to fight against aggressive badgers. Dachshunds also faced other dangerous prey, such as foxes and weasels, and packs of dachshunds were even trained to hunt wild boar. Today, the doxie is rarely used for hunting purposes in the United States or Great Britain. In other parts of the world, particularly France, they are still considered hunting dogs.

Dachshunds as companions

Despite their fierce history as hunters, the pint-sized weiner dog today is known primarily as a spunky, loving companion. The transition from hunter to loving pet started in the 1800s, primarily in Great Britain. Queen Victoria was known to be especially fond of doxies, and helped make them a favorite breed in Europe’s aristocratic circles.

While the dachshund experienced a brief drop in popularity during the World Wars, their adorable faces and personalities were too cute to be denied. In the 1950s, the breed made a big comeback and secured a place as one of the most popular dogs in the United States. Today, dachshunds also make excellent pets to compete or show in obedience and agility competitions, and are even certified as therapy dogs.

Dachshunds during World War I & II

Sadly, dachshunds had a brief period in history where they were looked down upon and even abused due to their German heritage. Dachshunds did serve in the German armies during the wars. Their short and long statures made them ideal for sniffing out and digging up bombs, and their sense of smell helped them track down food for hungry soldiers. During this time, doxie owners in the United States tried to rebrand the breed as “liberty hounds” to avoid pro-German sentiments.

Unfortunately, there were still incidents of dachshund owners and even dachshunds themselves being attacked or even killed for their associations with Germany.

Dachshund coat and size varieties

There are three coat types in dachshunds: smooth, longhaired and wire-haired. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that the different varieties of dachshunds have different personality traits.

Smooth dachshund — The most popular type of dachshund in the United States, these dogs have a short, smooth coat that requires little grooming. The most common colors are tan, chocolate, red, cream, fawn, or a combination of these. However, if you live in a cold climate you’ll want to invest in coats and sweaters to keep your doxie warm in winter. Smooth dachshunds are known to be very spunky and mischievous.

Longhaired dachshund — These dachshunds have sleek, silky long hair in the same colors as a smooth dachshund. The grooming needs of a longhaired dachshund are a much bigger commitment: they should be brushed every day to prevent mats. Longhaired dachshunds are thought to have a more docile temperament than smooth or wirehaired dachshunds.

Wirehaired dachshund — The wirehaired dachshund has a thick, short coat, bushy eyebrows and a beard. Their rougher coats mean these dogs won’t need a coat in winter, but they also require daily brushings to keep mats away. The wirehaired dachshund, like the smooth dachshund, typically has a mischievous personality.

Frequently asked questions

What were dachshunds known for?

Despite their teeny size, dachshunds were bred to be fierce hunters of badgers, foxes, rabbits, and even wild boar and wolverines.

What were dachshunds used for in the war?

These brave pups were used in the World Wars to sniff and dig out buried bombs, as well as tracking down food for hungry soldiers.

Why were dachshunds bred to be short and long?

The dachshund’s short, long bodies make it easier for them to maneuver in badger and fox holes. The breed’s long tails allowed them to be pulled out from an underground tunnel if necessary.

What two breeds make a dachshund?

Dachshunds are descendants of the German schweisshund, and cross-bred with terrier and spaniel breeds to enhance their hunting skills.

Are dachshunds hunting dogs?

Yes, dachshunds were originally bred to be badger hunters. The name dachshund is German for “badger hound.”