Dachshund: History and Appearance
The Dachshund is a breed with a long history. It is believed that these little dogs date back to the 15th century. Illustrations from the 15th-17th century depict dogs with longer bodies, shorter legs, and floppy ears hunting badgers. The dogs had some features of the Basset Hound or Terrier. The pictures are subject to interpretation, but this is where it is believed the ancestors of the Dachshund originated.
The name “Dachshund” is German. The word “Dach” is supposed to mean “badger,” while “hund” of course, means “hound.” The name comes from medieval books whose writing described the dogs that would hunt badgers.
There is evidence that selective breeding existed early on, as the long-haired and smooth coated varieties were separated. There is also a little known third variety that possesses a wire haired coat, and was bred for protection against thorns, briars, and the elements. The wirehaired breed was registered in 1890. The Germans ban registration of dogs that are crossbred with different coat varieties, though it is permitted in the United States.
The Dachshund, despite its size and build, provided a formidable adversary for the wild animals it was set after. Dachshunds could reach up to 35 lbs., as the badger was an aggressive and nasty animal to hunt. Dachshunds were even hunted in packs against wild boar. The breed’s success in hunting led it to become adapted for other game, and eventually the dog was used in hunting foxes and tracking wounded deer. Dachshunds weighing less, around 12 lbs., hunted hare, ermine, and weasel.
The German standard for the Dachshund was set in 1879. It described the breed type, and Dachshunds began to be registered in the stud book. In Germany, before the World Wars, the emphasis on type was based on both breeding and hunting. After the wars, there was a stronger emphasis on hunting, and the breed became more terrier-like in appearance.
In the United States, the breed standard for the Dachshund is based on the pre-war characteristics. The Dachshund was placed in field trials in 1935, and their hunting ability was promoted.
The Dachshund was placed in the AKC studbook in 1885. They gained popularity through the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. With the start of World War I, the Dachshunds association with Germany caused a decline in favor. German breeding stock became non-existent, though there were dedicated Dachshund fanciers who saw that the breed re-emerged.
In the United States, the Dachshund is not typically used as a hunting dog, though those characteristics are celebrated in the breed. Both the long and smooth coated types are bred to have elegant, streamlined proportions. The breed still participates in field trials and other tests, giving them the opportunity to utilize their hunting abilities.
The Dachshund is characteristically low to the ground. The body is long, and the legs are short. They are muscular little dogs with pliable skin. Despite their unique shape, Dachshunds are well balanced. The breed is shown in two sizes. The miniatures are classified as “under 11 lbs.” and “12 months or older.” The standard size is classified of between 16 and 32 lbs.
The head tapers uniformly to the nose, and the eyes are a medium size almond shape. They are usually dark rimmed and dark in color. The bones over the eyes are prominent. Ears are set near the top of the head, and are medium long. They are rounded on the end. The ears frame the face. The dog has powerful canine teeth meeting in a scissors bite. The muzzle is slightly arched, with a black nose.
The neck does not feature a dewlap and is long and clean. The dog’s trunk is long. It should be fully muscled. The profile should show a straight line on the back, and a slightly arched loin. The belly is drawn up, but not severely.
The forequarters of the Dachshund meet certain expectations. Because the Dachshund was expected to work underground and dig through bushes, it is expected that the front is well muscled and strong. The breastbone is prominent, while the shoulders are laid back. The elbows are close to the body, and the forelegs are short, yet possess muscles that are hard and pliable. The legs are not absolutely straight. The feet are full, compact, with well arched toes.
The hindquarters are also expected to be strong and muscular, with all aspects the same length and forming right angles. The hind paws are smaller than the front paws, and point straight ahead.
The Dachshund features three coat varieties. The smooth coat, the wirehaired, and longhaired each have their own characteristics regarding coat. The smooth coat should be short and shiny. Ears are not leathery, and the tail is tapered, but not full. The wirehaired Dachshund is covered in a uniform, rough, hard outer coat, with a shorter undercoat. The face usually has a beard or eyebrows. The longhaired Dachshund has a sleek, shiny, wavy coat featuring longer hair under the neck, on the chest, on the underside of the body, and on the ears and legs.
Dachshunds can be solid colored or bi-colored in red, cream, black, chocolate, gray, and fawn. They are also dappled, with light colors contrasting with a darker base. They are also brindle, with black stripes occurring on part or all of the body
Showing a Dachshund
In show, the Dachshund is expected to meet the standard. Wall eyes are considered a major fault. The dog should have an animated, fluid gait, and demonstrate agility and speed. The expression should be lively and clever. A body that hangs loosely between the shoulders is a serious fault. Knuckling over of the front legs is a serious fault. Smooth Dachshunds should not have a brush tail. On all types, a small amount of white on the chest is acceptable, though not desired. Only Dachshunds that are dappled are permitted a larger area of white. The breed is still judged as a hunting dog.