The Dachshund is an extremely popular dog breed which has ranked in the top ten most popular dog breeds for many years. Dachshunds were ranked 6th out of 154 dog breeds registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in both 2004 and 2005. When most people think of a Dachshund, they think of a small dog with a smooth and shiny coat, long body, floppy ears and short crooked legs. However when you consider buying a Dachshund and start to research the dog breed, you find there are a diverse and wide range of sizes, coat varieties, colors and patterns.
The original Standard Dachshund was developed to hunt badgers. The breed had to be: built low to the ground, agile and muscular enough to pursue the badger through a maze of underground tunnels, and brave enough to tackle its formidable adversary. Many people poke fun at this “sausage dog”, but they don’t know how he was bred to be low, long, muscular and athletic. Dachshunds are scent hounds and track their prey by scent and not by sight. This breed is courageous and single minded in its work. Once the Dachshund had cornered its prey in a tunnel, he barked to let the hunter know where he was located under ground. Today the Dachshund still retains its hunting instinct and, if off leash, will follow a scent ignoring any previously learned commands.
Dachshunds come in two sizes -the Standard and the Miniature. Miniature Dachshunds were bred down in size by German hunters to hunt rabbits. The AKC standard says that Miniatures should weigh 11 pounds or less. Standard Dachshunds have no weight limits but usually range from 15 to 30 pounds. Apart from the size difference, both types have the same appearance.
The Dachshund breed comes in three different varieties of coat – Short-haired or Smooth, Long-haired and Wire-haired. The Shorthair is the most prevalent and has a short, dense and shiny coat that most people associate with the Dachshund. The Long-haired Dachshund has a soft and sleek coat that is well fringed on the ears, chest, under side of the body, legs and tail. The Longhair looks something like a small Irish Setter. The Wirehair has a short, dense and wiry outer coat with a dense undercoat and also has a beard, bushy eyebrows and prominent ridges over its eyes. The three coat-type varieties, while all Dachshunds, seem to have minor differences in temperament. The Longhair’s temperament seems more laid back, kinder and gentler reflecting the softer coat. This gentler demeanor doesn’t seem to impair its field trial competitiveness at all. The Wirehair’s temperament seems to be bolder and brasher than the other varieties and a little more like a terrier in demeanor. The Shorthair seems to be the most independent and stubborn of the three varieties.
Another area of diversification is the color of the Dachshund’s coat. The most common colors are red (ranging from reddish blond to deep rusty red) and a black and tan combination. The black and tan dogs are all black with tan markings on the head, chest and paws. Other two-color combinations are chocolate, blue or fawn with tan markings. Wirehairs have coats that are commonly a black and light hair mix called wild boar. The final area of diversification is the pattern of the Dachshund’s coat. There is a dapple pattern that consists of a dark base color with contrasting light areas. A double dapple pattern is varying amounts of white occurring over the body in addition to the dapple pattern. Finally there is a brindle pattern characterized by dark stripes all over the body.
Given that you can decide between the size, coat type, colour and pattern – why would you want to choose a Dachshund? Dachshunds are wonderful fun loving dogs that adore their owners and want to be involved in everything that is going on. The Dachshund has a whole host of virtues such as: amiable, intelligent, brave, alert, loyal, playful, inquisitive and dignified. They also make good watchdogs. On the less positive side, the Dachshund is somewhat independent and mischievous and will follow an interesting scent to the exclusion of everything else. Both Miniature and Standard Dachshunds make good apartment dogs that are small enough to travel everywhere with their owners. It really is no surprise to see why the Dachshund is one of the most popular small dog breeds registered by the AKC.