The Dachshund has an energetic, pleasant expression. Each of the three coat varieties has special attributes: the smooth is short and shining, imparting some protection against the elements; the long hair is sleek, sometimes slightly wavy, providing somewhat more protection; the wire has tight, thick, and hard hair with a finer undercoat, providing maximal protection.
Definitive evidence of the Dachshund as a breed isn’t found until the sixteenth century, when reference was made to a “low crooked legged” dog called a Little Burrow Dog, Dacksel, or Badger Dog. The modern name “Dachshund” means simply badger (dachs) dog (hund) in German.
The Dachshund comes in three coat varieties and two sizes. The original Dachshunds were smooth coated and arose from crosses of the Bracke, a miniature French pointer, with the Pinscher. Some evidence exists of longer-haired Dachshund-like dogs in sixteenth-century woodcuts. It is also possible that smooth Dachshunds were later crossed with spaniels and the German Stoberhund (a gundog) to produce the long-haired variety. Mention is made of wire-coated Dachshunds as early as 1797, but these dogs were not carefully bred and most modern wires were created around the end of the nineteenth century by crossing smooth Dachshunds with German Wire-haired Pinschers and the Dandie Dinmont Terrier.
Each of these varieties was best suited for hunting under slightly different terrain and climatic conditions, but all were tough, strong dogs capable of dispatching badger, fox, and other small mammals. Before 1900, very small Dachshunds were kept for going to ground after small quarry, such as rabbits. Although some were simply runts, others were intentionally produced by crosses with toy terriers or pinschers. Most of the resulting miniatures lacked Dachshund type, however.
By 1910, stricter criteria were adopted for type, and each coat type was crossed with different breeds to achieve the best results: smooths were bred with the Miniature Pinscher, longs with the Papillon, and wires with the Miniature Schnauzer. The Dachshund has since found its real niche as a family pet, steadily rising in popularity to hold a place as one of the most popular hounds in America.
The Dachshund is bold, curious, and always up for adventure. He likes to explore and dig, tracking by scent. He is independent but will join in his family’s activities whenever given a chance. He is good with children in his own family, but some may snap at strange children. Most are reserved with strangers. Some bark. The longhaired variety may be quieter and less terrier-like; the wires may be more outgoing. Some miniatures are more prone to be timid.
Although active, the Dachshund’s exercise requirements can be met with moderate walks on leash and games in the yard. He is amenable to city life or apartment living, but it is still a hunter by history and enjoys supervised forays into the field. The smooth coat requires minimal grooming. The long coat requires brushing or combing once or twice weekly and occasional trimming of stray hairs. The wire coat requires brushing or combing about once a week, with occasional trimming of stray hairs and professional grooming to remove dead hair twice a year.