Choosing a Dachshund

Choosing a Dachshund

The dachshund is a short-legged long-bodied breed affectionately referred to as a "wiener dog". (The nickname gained notoriety after an American artist drew a dachshund in a hot dog bun in the early 20th century.) This breed is very popular and is typically within the top 10 most loved breeds. Playful but stubborn, the "doxie" is a member of the hound breeds.

The dachshund has been one of the top breeds based on the American Kennel Club (AKC) tallies.
History & Origin

In the 15th century, a short legged, long bodied dog with hound ears was used to chase and hunt badgers in Germany. The name "dachshund" means badger dog. In addition to badgers, dachshunds were originally bred to hunt wild boar, foxes and rabbits. The dachshund's long body allows the animal to chase these adversaries underground. In Germany, this breed is often still employed in this capacity.

Today, in America, the dachshund enjoys a different lifestyle as a companion animal. The existence of other hunting breeds allows dachshund owners to appreciate their pets' faithful, fun-loving and energetic nature in their home.

The dachshund was officially accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1885.


Dachshunds have long bodies, short legs and deep chests. They are strong in front, a characteristic that enables them to work well below ground. The wrists (also called carpus) are slightly closer together than the shoulder joints when viewed from the front. This feature gives the dachshund the appearance of having "crooked" legs. Alternatively, the hindlegs appear straight when viewed from behind. Due to efforts by US breeders, the crookedness of the legs has been lessened in comparison to dachshunds bred in other countries.

The dachshund's coat can be smooth (shorthaired), wirehaired, or longhaired. The dachshund can be one-colored (red or cream), two-colored (black, chocolate, wild boar, gray or blue and fawn or Isabella with tan markings). In addition to color, dachshunds also come in a variety of patterns. Dapple (light areas and a darker base color), brindle and piebald are some common color patterns.


Dachshunds are bred in the United States as either miniature or standard. The miniature is 11 pounds or less. From the ground to top of the shoulder, the dog stands about 5 inches. The standard dachshund ranges from about 16 to 32 pounds with a height at the shoulder of 7 to 10 inches.


Dachshunds are outgoing and strong-willed - even considered stubborn by some owners - and are very alert.

Home and Family Relations

The dachshund is a well-loved pet. The breed is curious, persistent and enjoys participating in activities with members of the family. Your dachshund may appear to possess seemingly boundless energy, thus keeping you well entertained. Because of their size, dachshunds make a good first pet. Vocalizing readily when strangers approach, the breed can be a good watchdog. If introduced at an early age, this breed can do well with children. Shorthaired dachshunds are particularly easy to maintain because they do not require frequent grooming. One concern for avid gardeners, however, is the dachshund's love of digging.


Dachshunds are intelligent and willing to learn; however, they may be strong-willed. This trait may make Training challenging, but nonetheless fun.

Special Care

Longhaired and wirehaired dachshunds benefit from daily brushing. This activity promotes circulation to the skin and hair follicles and encourages a healthy coat. Brushing is also relaxing for your pet and provides the opportunity to bond with your dachshund. The pendant or hanging nature of the pet's ears can create an environment for infections and inflammation in the dachshund's ear canal. Longhaired and wirehaired dachshunds that run in the woods may need to have coats checked regularly for mats and burrs.

Health Concerns

  • Because of the long body, short legs and hereditary, dachshunds are predisposed to unusual stresses on their intervertebral disks and subsequent back problems. They may develop a ruptured or prolapsed disk.
  • Cataracts result when the lens of the eye is no longer transparent and can result in blindness.
  • Congenital Deafness present at birth.
  • Atlantoaxial subluxation is a condition in which the first two cervical (neck) vertebrae are not firmly attached. Dogs are born without ligament support to their atlantoaxial joint,
  • Pyoderma refers to deep skin infections.
  • Cryptorchidism results when only one testicle descends into the scrotum and the other testicle remains in the abdomen.
  • Diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas that results in inadequate amounts of insulin being secreted.
  • Epilepsy is a disorder characterized by seizures.
  • Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) is a disease syndrome seen in dogs, characterized by the acute (sudden) onset of bloody diarrhea, usually explosive.
  • Malassezia dermatitis - is a yeast infection of the skin caused by Malassezia pachydermatitis.
  • Urolithiasis is a condition affecting the urinary tract resulting in the formation of bladder stones.
  • Interdigital dermatitis, also known as pododermatitis, is an inflammation of the paws involving the feet and nails.
  • Food allergy can occur in some pets causing skin lesions secondary to some food ingredients.
  • Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA) is a congenital birth defect caused by a blood vessel that normally closes after birth, but remains open resulting in the passage of extra volumes of blood into the lungs.
  • Anal sac adenocarcinoma is a tumor arising from the anal glands.
  • Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that develops when the pressure within the eye increases which can lead to blindness.
  • Lipomas are benign fatty tumors of the subcutaneous tissue.
  • Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.
  • Distichiasis is a condition in which there is growth of extra eyelashes from the glands of the upper or lower eyelid.
  • Progressive retinal degeneration (PRD) is a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition can lead to blindness.

    Dachshunds are also prone to hair loss, cleft palate, Cushing's disease, underactive thyroid gland, liver shunts and mast cell tumors.

    In addition, although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:

  • Pannus is a disease of the eye resulting in inflammation of the eye.
  • Sick sinus syndrome - is a disease that causes an abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness, lethargy, or brief periods of collapse and unconsciousness that resolve spontaneously.

    Life Span

    The average lifespan of a dachshund is 15 to 18 years.

    We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.