Dachshund Breed Guide: Characteristics, History & Care

by Aliyah Diamond
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Dachshund Breed Guide
Learn everything you need to know about Dachshunds, including nutritional and training needs, common health problems, historical info, and more.

Easily recognized by their long bodies on short legs, Dachshunds have long been one of the favorite family dog breeds. Known affectionately as hotdogs, wiener dogs, or doxies, Dachshunds are a lovable and energetic dog breed that loves to play and enjoys the company of humans. But is this breed the right choice for you?

Read on to learn more about Dachshund’s temperament, training, history, care tips, and more.

Table of Contents

Pro Tip: Whether you just got a Dachshund puppy or are learning more about an adult dog, there are health risks present in every chapter of your pet’s life. Pet insurance can provide financial support for veterinary care, so you can protect your pup’s well-being without burdening your family finances.

Dachshund characteristics

Physical appearance

Dachshunds come in two sizes: miniature and standard. At full maturity, the weight of a standard Dachshund averages between 16 and 32 pounds, while miniature Dachshunds should weigh 11 pounds or less. There are no official breed standards for height1, but most of these dogs stand around nine inches tall.

Known for their short legs paired with a long body, these little “weiner dogs” are well-endeared for their distinctive shape that hovers low to the ground. They also have large, floppy ears and an extended muzzle with a head that tapers to the end of the nose.

There are three coat varieties in the Dachshund dog breed: smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired. It can come in many different shades ranging from white to gray, and red to chocolate, but the rarest Doxies of all are pure black. Some members of the breed have unique coats that appear dappled, spotted, brindled, piebald, or harlequin.

Harlequin Dachshund looking at camera

Temperament and personality

Dachshunds are friendly and affectionate companions to family members. If trained well, they can be good with kids — though all dogs should be supervised with young children who have no experience around dogs. Breed aficionados believe that each type of Dachshund has its own set of unique personality traits. For example, wirehaired weiner dogs tend to be more outgoing than the calmer, longhaired variety.

Despite their small size, the Dachshund temperament is tenacious, curious, and playful. Most are courageously unafraid to take on animals bigger than themselves, some can be aggressive towards other dogs and strangers. They can act as vigilant watchdogs, but excessive barking is common in this breed and they may be somewhat destructive around the house.

Average lifespan

The average life expectancy for Dachshund dogs is 12 to 15 years, although many healthy dogs live longer. The oldest verified Dachshund was named Chanel from New York who lived to be 21 years old — she even spent some time in the Guinness Book of World Record as the world’s oldest dog!

Dachshund breed history

The Dachshund history has origins tracing back to 15th-century medieval Europe2, though the breed's real development began later in Germany, where they were initially bred to hunt badgers — hence the name, which translates to “badger dog” in German. Their low bodies were designed to dig beneath dens to disrupt the formidable occupants therein. In packs, Dachshunds excelled at hunting wild boar. Some size variations were better suited to hunt certain types of quarry, therefore the miniature breed was developed to pursue foxes and hares.

The 1800s saw Dachshunds introduced as house pets rather than hunters, especially in Great Britain, where they were favorites in many European royal courts including that of Queen Victoria. They were brought to the United States and recognized by the AKC in 1885 but declined in popularity during WWI due to their German heritage. During WWII, they underwent a temporary branding change and were called badger dogs to prevent being ostracized.

By the 1950s, Dachshunds' temperament and unique shape captured the hearts of American pet owners once again. They're currently ranked sixth for most popular dog breed3 — but the breed’s loud bark, clever wit, and tenacious attitude are testament to its history as a working hound dog.

Black Dachshund running through the woods

Dachshund care tips

Training and exercise

Dachshunds are very intelligent dogs but can also be quite stubborn, which sometimes makes them difficult to train. Because they love to receive affection, they usually respond best to positive, reward-based training. Due to their strong prey drive and excellent sense of smell, Dachshunds can easily get distracted and may not always pay attention to the person giving the commands. Consistency and patience are crucial.

Given their prey drive and desire to dig, it's recommended that your Doxie has a completely fenced-in yard that goes all the way to the ground if they are going to be left unattended outdoors for any period of time. These natural instincts can also make games like fetch highly enjoyable for your pup.

Although they’re small, Dachshunds need regular physical activity in order to stay fit and build strong muscles that can support their long backs. Moderate walks twice a day should be enough. Running up and down the stairs and jumping on and off heights such as furniture or beds should be avoided to prevent injuries to their backs and knees, which are very common in this breed.

Grooming

Dachshunds are ideal house dogs because they’re relatively clean, shed moderately, and have little body odor. Your dachshund’s grooming needs will depend on which variety they belong to. For instance, longhaired Dachshunds might require more frequent brushing, depending on the thickness of the coat, whereas the smooth-coat variety is pretty low maintenance.

The wirehaired variety should be hand-stripped or plucked about twice a year but is quite easy to maintain between groomings with combing and brushing one to two times a week, and occasional trimming of the eyebrows and beard. All varieties should have their nails trimmed every month.

Diet and nutrition

It’s very important to prevent your Doxie from becoming overweight. Not only does a healthy weight help ward off common health issues in dogs, but it also prevents placing additional strain on a Dachshund’s elongated back, which can result in ruptured or slipped discs in their spinal column.

How much food Dachshunds need to eat daily will depend on their age, activity level, size, and other factors. Ask your veterinarian for their recommendation. Be sure to offer your pet high-quality, nutritionally balanced food in the suggested serving size, and avoid table scraps or give them in very small amounts.

Common Dachshund health issues

Dachshunds are highly predisposed to injury or disease of the spinal disc because their short legs often cannot provide sufficient support for their long back. The most common medical issue is intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). Dachshunds are 11 to 12 times more prone to IVDD than any other dog, and statistics show that it affects approximately 25% of all breed members.

Much like humans who “slip a disc” in their back, back problems can be extremely painful and may even require surgery performed by a veterinary neurologist. Obesity, overexercising, and jumping up and down off any surface taller than they are can all increase the chances of a dog getting IVDD.

Longhaired Dachshund using wheelchair

Dachshunds are also more prone to a knee injury called patellar luxation. This occurs when a kneecap is dislocated from its normal anatomic location causing pain when your dog is bending that knee or bearing weight on that leg, and it can cause damage to the surrounding bones and muscles. This disease is often genetically inherited in the Dachshund breed and is usually corrected with surgery.

Other health issues common in Dachshunds include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Thyroid problems
  • Various eye conditions
  • Certain allergies
  • Urinary diseases
  • Itchy skin conditions

Dachshunds' floppy ears can increase the risk of ear infections. They’re also more likely to develop hearing and vision loss if they have the merle gene, which causes a dappled coat in some colors of the breed. Wirehaired Dachshunds often suffer from brittle bone disease.

Pro Tip: Providing your pet Dachshund with the vet care they need for common health problems shouldn’t have to be a financial decision. The right Dachshund pet insurance plan can provide coverage for illnesses and accidents, giving you the peace of mind that both you and your pup deserve.

Adopting or buying a Dachshund

If you’re thinking about adopting a Dachshund, consider getting in touch with reputable organizations like:

If you’d rather buy a Daschund puppy, we recommend working with a reputable breeder. On the AKC marketplace, the average cost of a Dachshund ranges between $500 and $2,000, depending on the puppy and the breeder.

If you are interested in similar breeds, consider looking into Beagles and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as Dachshund mixes, such as:

  • Doxle (Dachshund and Beagle)
  • Doxiepin (Dachshund and Miniature Pinscher)
  • Dorgi (Dachshund and Corgi)
  • Papshund (Dachshund and Papillon)
  • Dachshound (Dachshund x Basset Hound)

Key Takeaways

  • Dachshunds are known as spunky, clever, and affectionate family dogs. They’re good with small children but can be hostile towards other animals and strangers if not trained with proper socialization.
  • Originally bred as hunting dogs, Dachshunds come in a standard and miniature variation, with either a smooth, wirehaired, or longhaired coat.
  • Although small, Dachshunds need plenty of exercise to stay fit and healthy. They’re quite stubborn and enjoy following scent trails. This means that they can be somewhat difficult to train and may not be trustworthy off-leash in unconfined, outdoor spaces.
  • Like all dog breeds, Dachshunds are prone to certain health issues, such as IVDD, epilepsy, brittle bone disease, ear infections, itchy skin conditions, etc. making proper diet and exercise very important.

References

  1. AKC, “Official Standards of the Dachshund” Accessed Aug. 30, 2021.
  2. AKC, “Dachshund” Accessed Aug. 30, 2021.
  3. AKC, “The Most Popular Dog Breeds (2020)” Accessed Aug. 30, 2021.
Aliyah Diamond

About the author

Aliyah Diamond

DVM Candidate - Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Aliyah Diamond has more than ten years of experience in animal hospitals - working with dozens of species from dogs and cats, to elephants and snow leopards. Her lifelong passion for helping animals currently has her earning her doctorate of veterinary medicine at Cornell University and helping Pawlicy Advisor educate pet parents.

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