There are three types, classified by their coats: short-haired, called "smooth"; long-haired; and wire-haired.
A full-grown standard dachshund averages 15 lb (6.8 kg) to 28 lb (13 kg), while the miniature variety normally weighs less than 11 lb (5.0 kg). The kaninchen weighs 8 lb (3.6 kg) to 10 lb (4.5 kg). According to kennel club standards, the miniature (and kaninchen, where recognized) differs from the full-size only by size and weight, thus offspring from miniature parents must never weigh more than the miniature standard to be considered a miniature as well. While many kennel club size divisions use weight for classification, such as the American Kennel Club, other kennel club standards determine the difference between the miniature and standard by chest circumference; some kennel clubs, such as in Germany, even measure chest circumference in addition to height and weight.
H. L. Mencken said that "A dachshund is a half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long,"although they have been referred to as "two dogs long". This characteristic has led them to be quite a recognizable breed, and they are featured in many a joke and cartoon, particularly The Far Side by Gary Larson.
Dachshunds have a wide variety of colors and patterns. They can be single-colored, single colored with spots ("dappled"-called "merle" in other dog breeds), and single-colored with tan points plus any pattern. Dachshunds also come in Piebald. The piebald has a white background with various shades of brown. The dominant color is red, the most common along with black and tan. Two-colored dogs can be black, wild boar, chocolate, or fawn ("Isabella") with tan "points", or markings over the eyes, ears, paws, and tail, of tan or cream. A two-colored dachshund would be called by its dominant color first followed by the point color, such as "black and tan" or "chocolate and cream". Other patterns include piebald, in which a white pattern is imposed upon the base color or any other pattern, and a lighter "boar" red. The reds range from coppers to deep rusts, with or without somewhat common black hairs peppered along the back, tail, face, and ear edges, lending much character and an almost burnished appearance; this is referred to among breeders and enthusiasts as a "stag" or an "overlay" or "sable". True sable is a dachshund with each single hair banded with three colors: light at the base of the hair, red in the middle, black at the end. An additional, striking coat marking is the brindle pattern. "Brindle" refers to dark stripes over a solid background, usually red; if a dachshund is brindled on a dark coat and has tan points, you will see brindling on the tan points only. Even one single, lone stripe of brindle is brindle. If a dachshund has one single spot of dapple, it is a dapple.
Solid black and solid chocolate dachshunds occur and, even though dogs with such coloration are often considered handsome, the colors are nonstandard, that is, the dogs are frowned upon in the conformation ring in the US and Canada. Chocolate is commonly confused with dilute red. Additionally, according to the conformation judges of the Dachshund Club of America (DCA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) the piebald pattern is nonstandard. However, The Piebald dachshund can still be shown, the ONLY disqualifying Fault in Dachshunds is Knuckling over. While some judges choose to dismiss a dog of color, many choose to judge them and those who are actually judging the dog will look past the cosmetic color of a dog and judge the conformation of the dog FIRST. There were several Piebald dachshunds that became AKC Champions in 2008. All things being equal between the dogs in the ring, the traditional colors which are listed in the Official AKC Standard (governed by DCA) should be visibly listed.
Light-colored dachshunds can sport amber, light brown, or green eyes; however, kennel club standards state that the darker the eye color, the better. They can also have eyes of two different colors; however, this is only found in dapple and double dapple dachshunds. Dachshunds can have a blue and a brown eye. Blue eyes, partially blue eyes, or a blue eye and a brown eye are called "wall" coloring, not considered a non-desirable trait in kennel club standards. Dappled eyes are also possible. The standard was changed by the DCA in 2007 to exclude the wording double-dapple from the standard and strictly use the wording dapple. The reason is that the double merle gene is linked to blindness and deafness. Wall-eye is permissible. Piebald-patterned dachshunds will never have blue in their eyes, unless the dapple pattern is present.
"Being the owner of dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot. Some day, if I ever get a chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the dachshund and why he can't be trained and shouldn't be. I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do."
They have a loud bark, making dachshunds good watchdogs, though without proper training they can become nuisance barkers. Dachshunds are known for their devotion and loyalty to their owners, though they can be standoffish towards strangers. If left alone, many dachshunds will whine until they have companionship. Like many dogs if left alone too frequently, some dachshunds are prone to separation anxiety and may chew objects in the house to relieve stress. They rank 49th in Stanley Coren's Intelligence of Dogs, being of average working and obedience intelligence. The dachshund will, in some cases, show above-average intelligence, being able to break out of improperly made cages or figuring out how to get their favorite blanket out of a basket.
Dachshunds can be difficult to housebreak, and patience and consistency is often needed in this endeavor.
According to the American Kennel Club’s breed standards, "the dachshund is clever, lively and courageous to the point of rashness, persevering in above and below ground work, with all the senses well-developed. Any display of shyness is a serious fault. Their temperament and body language give the impression that they do not know or care about their relatively small size. Like many small hunting dogs, they will challenge a larger dog. Indulged dachshunds may become snappy or extremely obstinate.
The dachshund's temperament may vary greatly from dog to dog. Long-haired dachshunds have a calmer, intelligent character inherited from the spaniel. Wire-haired dachshunds have much of the terrier's spunky personality.
Many dachshunds do not like unfamiliar people, and many will growl or bark at them. Although the dachshund is generally an energetic dog, some are sedate. This dog's behavior is such that it is not the dog for everyone. A bored dachshund will become destructive. If raised improperly and not socialized at a young age, dachshunds can become aggressive or fearful. They require a caring owner who understands their need for entertainment and exercise. The best way to prevent future anxiety or stress is to take your Dachshund with you to public places, such as parks, or just running errands. The more socialized your Dachshund is with people and other dogs, the better off it will be around strangers in the future. Dachshunds have long back, so you have to be careful with them. It is bad for old dachshunds to run up and down stairs.
Although some might say Dachshunds may not be the best pets for small children, like any dog they need the proper introduction at a young age. Well trained Dachshunds and well behaved children usually get along fine. Otherwise, they may be aggressive and bite an unfamiliar child, especially one that moves quickly around them or teases them. However, many Dachshunds are very tolerant and loyal to children within their family, but these children should be mindful of the vulnerability of the breed's back and not carry them around roughly.
A 2008 University of Pennsylvania study of 6,000 dog owners who were interviewed indicated that dogs of smaller breeds were more likely to be "genetically predisposed towards aggressive behaviour". Dachshunds were rated the most aggressive, with 20% having bitten strangers, as well as high rates of attacks on other dogs and their owners. The study noted that attacks by small dogs were unlikely to cause serious injuries and because of this were probably under-reported.
Treatment consists of various combinations of crate confinement and courses of anti-inflammatory medications (steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like carprofen and meloxicam), or chronic pain medications, like tramadol. Serious cases may require surgery to remove the troublesome disk contents.A dog may need the aid of a cart to get around if paralysis occurs.
A new minimally invasive procedure called "percutaneous laser disk ablation" has been developed at the Oklahoma State University Veterinary Hospital. Originally, the procedure was used in clinical trials only on dachshunds that had suffered previous back incidents. Since dachshunds are prone to back issues, the goal is to expand this treatment to dogs in a normal population.
In addition to back problems, the breed is also prone to patellar luxation.
In some double dapples, there are varying degrees of vision and hearing loss, including reduced or absent eyes. Not all double dapples have problems with their eyes and/or ears, which may include degrees of hearing loss, full deafness, malformed ears, congenital eye defects, reduced or absent eyes, partial or full blindness, or varying degrees of both vision and hearing problems; but heightened problems can occur due to the genetic process in which two dapple genes cross, particularly in certain breeding lines. Dapple genes, which are dominant genes, are considered "dilution" genes, meaning whatever color the dog would have originally carried is lightened, or diluted, randomly; two dominant "dilution" genes can cancel each other out, or "cross", removing all color and producing a white recessive gene, essentially a white mutation. When this happens genetically within the eyes or ears, this white mutation can be lethal to their development, causing hearing or vision problems.
Other dachshund health problems include hereditary epilepsy, granulomatous meningoencephalitis, dental issues, Cushing's syndrome, thyroid problems, various allergies and atopies, and various eye conditions including cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, corneal ulcers, nonucerative corneal disease, sudden acquired retinal degeneration, and cherry eye. Since the occurrence and severity of these health problems is largely hereditary, breeders are working to eliminate these characteristics.
The first verifiable references to the dachshund, originally named the "Dachs Kriecher" ("badger crawler") or "Dachs Krieger" ("badger warrior"), came from books written in the early 1700s. Prior to that, there exist references to "badger dogs" and "hole dogs", but these likely refer to purposes rather than to specific breeds. The original German dachshunds were larger than the modern full-size variety, weighing between 30 and 40 lb (14 and 18 kg), and originally came in straight-legged and crook-legged varieties (the modern dachshund is descended from the latter). Though the breed is famous for its use in exterminating badgers and badger-baiting, dachshunds were also commonly used for rabbit and fox hunting, for locating wounded deer, and in packs were known to hunt game as large as wild boar and as fierce as the wolverine.
There are huge differences of opinion as to when dachshunds were specifically bred for their purpose of badger hunting, as the American Kennel Club states the dachshund was bred in the 15th century, while the Dachshund Club of America states that foresters bred the dogs in the 18th or 19th century.
The flap-down ears and famous curved tail of the dachshund have deliberately been bred into the dog. In the case of the ears, this is so that grass seeds, dirt, and other matter do not enter the ear canal. The curved tail is dual-purposed: to be seen more easily in long grass and, in the case of burrowing dachshunds, to help haul the dog out if it becomes stuck in a burrow. The smooth-haired dachshund, the oldest style, may be a cross between the German Shorthaired Pointer, a Pinscher, and a Bracke (a type of bloodhound), or to have been produced by crossing a short Bruno Jura Hound with a pinscher. Others believe it was a cross from a miniature French pointer and a pinscher; others claim that is was developed from the St. Hubert Hound, also a bloodhound, in the 1700s, and still others believe that they were descended from Basset Hounds, based upon their scent abilities and general appearance.
What is clear, however, is that no one seems to know for sure. According to William Loeffler, from The American Book of the Dog (1891), in the chapter on Dachshunds:"The origin of the Dachshund is in doubt, our best authorities disagreeing as to the beginning of the breed. What can be agreed on, however, is that the short haired dachshund gave rise to both the long-haired and the wire-haired varieties.
There are two theories regarding how the standard longhair dachshund came about. One theory is that smooth Dachshunds would occasionally produce puppies which had slightly longer hair than their parents. By selectively breeding these animals, breeders eventually produced a dog which consistently produced longhair offspring, and the longhair dachshund was born. Another theory is that the standard longhair dachshund was developed by breeding smooth dachshunds with various land and water spaniels. The long-haired dachshund may be a cross among any of the small dog breeds in the spaniel group, including the German Stoberhund, and the smooth-haired dachshund.
The wire-haired dachshund, the last to develop, was created in late nineteenth century. There is a possibility the wire-haired dachshund was a cross between the smooth dachshund and various hard-coated terriers and wire-haired pinschers, such as the Schnauzer, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the German Wirehaired Pointer, or perhaps the Scottish Terrier.
Due to the association of the breed with Germany, the dachshund was chosen to be the first official mascot for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, with the name Waldi.