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Breed profile: Dachshund

I remember I did a report on the dachshund in fourth grade. I wish I could see that now! I used to be a pretty big fan of the “wiener dog,” but now they are not one of my favorite breeds, mostly because of their awkward bodies and tendency to bark.

However, people love these dogs. They are one of the most popular pets in the United States.

Dachshunds originated in Germany during the 1500s, according to the Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds by D. Caroline Coile.

Their name means badger dog in German, and they were used to chase badgers into burrows, pull them out, and then kill them. Yikes. Today they compete in earthdog trials, running through manmade tunnels.

The original dachshunds were smooth coated, but today there are also long-haired dachshunds and wire-haired dachshunds.

Their coats can be a solid color (usually red) or a mixture of black, tan and red. They also come in brindle or dapple, which is a lighter gray mixed with black, like the merle great dane.

Dachshunds come in a miniature size (under 11 pounds and 6 inches tall) and a standard size (16-32 pounds and closer to 9 inches tall).

Advantages to owning a dachshund:

1. They are good with children in their own family and friendly with everyone they know. It is strangers they are leery of.

2. Although they are active, dachshunds don’t need a ton of exercise. As long as they get a walk every day and some long walks here and there, they can live just fine in an apartment and make good indoor dogs. Just remember they are hunters and love to get outside to smell and explore when they can.

3. The smooth-coated dachshund needs very little grooming because of its short coat.

4. Their size (especially the mini) is convenient for traveling and apartment life. Dachshunds make excellent lap dogs, and everyone agrees they are cute. Plus, their size makes them easy to control, even if they pull on the leash.

5. Dachshunds are eager to tag along for hunting and compete well in agility and earthdog competitions. Although they have short legs, they were bred to have the endurance to hunt down their prey, according to Coile.

Disadvantages to owning a dachshund:

1. They like to dig. It’s what they were bred to do. Prepare to either tolerate digging in your yard or to train your dog not to do it

2. Dachshunds naturally want to hunt small animals. They are better off in a home without smaller pets.

3. “Wiener dogs” are often unfriendly to strangers at first. A dachshund could snap at children and adults it doesn’t know. However, this also means they make excellent watchdogs.

Of course, their bark is worse than their bite and I know several dachshunds that bark unnecessarily at everything.

4. Dachshunds are challenging to train. They have short attention spans because they are so curious and interested in everything they smell and see. Plus, they are so low to the ground that it makes it easier for them to focus on anything but their owners.

5. Obesity is a big problem with dachshunds because of their short legs. It’s easy to overfeed them. They also face back issues because of their long torsos. Intervertebral disk disease is common among dachshunds, according to Coile.

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