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Whether you refer to it as a sausage dog, Weiner dog, Dottie or Doxie, it is a very distinct breed, to say the least. Although it has a unique build similar to that of America’s favorite ballpark concession, its fearlessness, brassy attitude, and “big dog” bark are proof that this pup is no weenie. In this episode of Animal Facts we’re taking a closer look at America’s favorite “hot dog” (bun, I mean pun intended)— the Dachshund.
The Dachshund was originally bred more than 600 years ago to track one of the animal kingdom’s most vicious creatures, the badger. In fact, the German word “Dachshund” translates to “badger dog” in English.
Its short legs and long body are perfect for digging into a badger’s den, and its courage, tenacity and durability are characteristics necessary for facing off with a ferocious foe. Its loud hound dog bark was ideal for alerting the Doxie’s human hunting companion to its subterranean location.
The Dachshund is such an iconic symbol of Germany that during World War I, American enthusiasts began calling them Liberty Hounds to curtail a decline in popularity due to anti-German sentiment. Their popularity took a small dip during World War II, but the breed became a family favorite again in the 1950s.
Size and Appearance
The Dachshund is said to be half a dog high and two dogs long.
Aside from their elongated bodies and short legs, Doxies have other characteristics that set them apart.
First of all, Dachshunds come in three coat varieties: smooth aka shorthaired, longhaired, and wirehaired. In regards to size, the US recognizes three types: miniature (weighing 11 pounds or less), standard (16 to 32 pounds), and tweenie (between 11 and 16 pounds).
You may also hear of kaninchen, which is German for Rabbit, sized Dachshunds. They weigh between 8 and 11 pounds.
They also tend to have rather long muzzles and expressive faces and eyes. A Doxie can give you a pretty good idea of what it’s thinking with any number of looks, from a soulful stare to a shady side eye.
Dachshunds come in several colors including red (the most common color), black, and tan. Their coats can have a single colored base (cream or red), or a tan pointed base (black, blue, chocolate, or isabella and tan). Sable, brindle, merle and piebald patterns can also appear on the base colors, and wirehaired Doxies can exhibit a color combination called wildboar, which is a mash up of black, brown, and gold with tan points—it’s like highlights for dogs.
Temperament and Family Life
The typical Dachshund can be described as playful, clever, courageous, with a stubborn streak befitting any top-notch hunting dog. Doxies tend to bond closely with one person, but can be standoffish with strangers, a quality when paired with their strong bark makes them wonderful watchdogs despite their diminutive size.
A Doxie’s temperament can also depend on its variety. Longhairs are usually low-key and cool, while Wirehairs tend to be more mischievous (a nod to their Terrier DNA) and Smooths fall somewhere in between.
When selecting your Doxie pup, it is best to choose one that has an even temperament. An aggressive puppy that bullies its siblings or one that is timid and nervous will be much harder to socialize, and will require considerably more patience from you.
Doxies make great companions for adults and older kids, but they’re not the best fit for families with young children because their long, fragile backs could be injured if they are not carefully handled or if play is too rough.
If properly socialized, Doxies usually get along with other pets, but they can be scrappy with unfamiliar dogs and may find themselves in a dangerous situation if their opponent is sizeable.
Trainability and Intelligence
Dachshunds are a smart and spunky breed. Their determination to do as they please can make house and obedience training quite difficult. When training your Doxie, be sure to stand firm in your expectations and commands, this will help you earn your furry friend’s respect and establish yourself as the “pack leader.”
Doxie’s may choose to ignore commands and march to their own beat, but in no way does this reflect negatively on their intelligence. Many doggie IQ tests are based on obedience, and Doxies tend to do their own thing, so they would naturally score lower than many other breeds. But, don’t be fooled, the Wiener Dog is quite cunning.
When training your dog, be sure to reward them with a toy, favorite activity or occasional treat—Doxies tend to put on weight quickly, so it is important to keep edible treats to a minimum. Crate training as a puppy is also an effective way to potty train your dog and keep them from destroying your property.
Getting them used to short periods of confinement will also prepare them for future stays at the pet hospital or pet hotel.
When it comes to exercise, size and shape matter. Many people think that Dachshunds don’t need much exercise because of their size, but with their short legs and long bodies, it is important that their core and back muscles are kept strong. Miniature Dachshunds require at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, while Standard Dachshunds should get at least 60 minutes daily.
To keep your Doxie in top condition, take them for a walk in your neighborhood, or if the weather is foul, go for a stationary stroll on the treadmill. If your little pal has never walked on a treadmill, be sure to get them acclimated to it while it isn’t moving. To get them on the treadmill place a treat on it. Then, work up to standing beside or in front of them on the treadmill. Finally, set the treadmill at the lowest speed and gradually increase it until you find the speed and length of time your dog is most comfortable with, then move both up over time.
Other great ways for your best friend to get a workout include agility training, fetch, play dates, and teaser pole. A teaser pole can be made by attaching a toy to a pole, which would then be moved along the ground while your Doxie gives chase. It’s a fantastic way for them to have an experience similar to tracking in the wild and can be quite entertaining for you.
What activities do you and your dog enjoy together?
Health and Lifespan
The average lifespan of a Dachshund is 12 to 14 years (1.5 years longer than most breeds), but they are susceptible to many health issues that can affect their quality of life.
Back problems like intervertebral disk disease, Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, Diabetes, tumors (both malignant and benign), and various eye problems are conditions commonly seen in Doxies.
To reduce your dog’s health risks, get your puppy from a reputable breeder, and be sure its parents have been checked for common health problems. It is also helpful to request your dog’s health history and to take them to the vet regularly. Keep vaccines up-to-date, take note of any unusual behavior, and check for lumps on a routine basis.
The Dachshund is among the world’s most unique breeds. This long and low athlete has captured many a heart, but may not be the perfect dog for those with small children. What are some of the more interesting facts you know about Dachshunds?