Breed breakdown: An in-depth look at the dachshund
The vet’s office
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
With a name that translates to “badger dogs,” it is no wonder dachshunds are called “clever, lively, and courageous to the point of rashness” in the breed standard. The dachshund originated in Germany, but much of its history is unknown.
Some say dachshunds come from Egypt, and some say they originated in the 15th century. However, most agree the modern dachshund mostly stems from the 18th and 19th centuries. Dachshunds have touched the lives of many famous people, including Queen Victoria, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Grover Cleveland, and John F. Kennedy.
Dachshunds are distinctive with long bodies and short legs. This shape allowed them to enter burrows of their prey. The larger standard dachshund was generally used for badger hunting, and the smaller miniature dachshund was used for rabbits or prairie dogs. People also used dachshunds to track other game such as deer.
It is debatable whether dachshunds should be considered hounds or terriers. A dachshund owner may say they are in a class by themselves.
Standard dachshunds are identical to the miniatures except for size. At ideal weights, standards should be between 16 and 32 pounds, and miniatures should be less than 11 pounds. Regardless of size, dachshunds have three types of hair coat: smooth (short), long, or wire. Dachshunds have a variety of coat colors, including red, sable, black and tan, and dapple (merle).
Most owners will agree that dachshunds like to eat — and gain weight. Obesity is a huge disease in this breed. This leads to stress on the joints, heart, and back.
Dachshunds can get intervertebral disc disease, where the disc between the vertebrae ruptures, and the inner material puts pressure on nerves and spinal cord, leading to pain and possibly paralysis. In the case of paralysis, surgery is needed for the best chance of restoring mobility.
Considered chondrodysplastic with their short legs, dachshunds are susceptible to other crippling orthopedic problems, including knuckling of the front legs and bowlegged rear legs. Dachshunds can also develop luxating patellas.
Dachshunds of certain coat types or colors are more prone than others to develop eye conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy and cone-rod dystrophy, which both lead to vision impairment. Some coat-color combinations bred together have been linked to blindness and deafness as well.
Dachshunds can also develop narcolepsy, allergies, and epilepsy. There are many genetic tests available to screen for some of the conditions seen in dachshunds.
Standard or miniature, these little dogs have big personalities. Researching breeders and asking questions will help you find the right dog for you.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.