Originally bred to hunt badgers, Dachshunds are perhaps best for their long bodies and short legs, giving them the popular nickname "wiener dog." The seventh most popular breed in the US, they are widely loved for their clown-like antics and fierce loyalty.
It is thought that the earliest roots of the Dachshund can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where small, short-legged hounds have been depicted in artwork and even found mummified. However, it was not until the 1600's that the Dachshund we know today was first bred in Germany. They were originally bred to flush badgers from their underground dens, fight, and even exterminate them. In the 1700's, this actually became a form of entertainment known as badger baiting. Dachshunds were also frequently used to hunt small game such as rabbits and foxes.
In the US, Dachshunds are recognized in two sizes: Standard, weighing 16-32lbs and measuring 14-18 inches tall, and Miniature, weighing less than 11lbs by age 12 months and measuring up to 14 inches tall.
In addition, three coat varieties are recognized: Smooth, Longhaired, and Wirehaired. The smooth coat should be short, smooth, and shining, of medium thickness. The longhaired coat should be sleek, glistening, and long at the ears and tail. The wirehaired coat should be short, thick, rough, and hard on the outside, but finer and softer underneath. Longer hair should be present about the face, forming a beard and eyebrows.
All three coat types come in numerous colors and a variety of patterns. The most common colors include red, cream, black and tan, blue and tan, fawn and tan, chocolate and tan, and wild boar, which is most common in the wirehaired variety. In the two colored coats, the tan markings appear above the eyes, around the muzzle, on the paws, and below the tail. Patterns include dapple or mearle, brindle, and sable.
The head of the Dachshund features a long, tapered muzzle, dark, almond shaped eyes, and high-set ears that are moderate in length. The neck and trunk should be long, muscular, and well defined. The back should form as straight a line as possible and the abdomen should be slightly tucked. The chest should be prominent and muscular and the forarms should be short, muscular, and curved inward. The hind legs should be well muscled at the thigh, forming a series of right angles and should not curve inward or outward. The tail should appear continuous with the back and should be held straight. AKC Breed Standard
Dachshunds are known for their lively, clever personalities and playful demeanors. They are affectionate and very devoted to their owners and family. Due to their strong bond with their owners, Dachshunds are prone to separation anxiety and have been known to whine constantly or even become destructive when separated from their owner.
Dachshunds are also known for their rashly courageous nature and eagerness to protect the family. As a result, Dachshunds are often wary of strangers, even becoming aggressive at times. Dachshunds also love to bark. They have a very loud, deep barks for their size, making them good watchdogs.
Given their breed history as badger baiters, Dachshunds love to be outside and love digging holes even more. They are known to be very rough on yards and vegetable gardens. In contrast to their loving loyal nature, Dachshunds can also be stubborn and independent at times, which can make training and housebreaking difficult.
Care and Health Problems
Like most purebred, Dachshund are prone to a number of hereditary conditions. Probably the most serious problems are obesity and intervertebral disc disease. Because of the Dachshund's long spine and predisposition to obesity, back problems are very common in the breed. Though some incidences are inevitable, proper care can help prevent disc disease. These dogs should be exercised regularly and overfeeding should be avoided to prevent obesity. Jumping and rough handling should also be avoided. Other health problems include epilepsy, periodontal disease, Cushing's disease, thyroid problems, cateracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy. It is important to note that many of these problems are hereditary in nature and can be avoided by choosing a responsible breeder. References and Further Reading http://www.akc.org/breeds/dachshund/index.cfm http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/dachshund.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachshund http://www.dachshund-dca.org/