Pronounced “docks-hund,” Dachshunds may be small in size, but they are large in spirit. Originally bred to be small hunting dogs (rabbits, moles, and other burrowing animals), they have developed into intelligent, devoted, loving companions.
Whether you’ve already become the parent of one or are considering it, here’s everything you need to know about Dachshunds.
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Meet The Dachshund
Weight: 16-32 pounds
Height: 8-9 inches at the shoulder
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Fur type: Dachshunds either have short, shiny hair or long, silky hair that can come in a variety of different colors and markings. They are not hypoallergenic.
Dachshunds might put on a strong-willed, clever, mischievous front, but when it comes down to it, what they love most is cuddling and loyally accompanying their favorite humans. They have an adventurous and daring side that can be borderline rash at times. The hunting instincts they were initially bred with can come out when small animals are scurrying by or are in their line of sight, so if your Dachshund goes darting in a spontaneous direction, you’ll know why. They love to play and to also relax by your side, typically making them a well-balanced companion for the right parents and family.
They are known for their persevering – or in other words – stubborn nature, which can make housebreaking difficult. They adore eating, sometimes to a fault. They’re not a shy breed, they’ll investigate anything and anyone they please. They have a reputation for digging, something to keep an eye out for and nip in the bud as soon as possible. They have strong spirits and aren’t afraid to let you know how they’re feeling.
Personalities and temperaments can vary between wirehaired (short hair) and longhaired Dachshunds. Wirehaired Dachshunds tend to be more lively and even clownish at times, while longhaired Dachshunds are often calmer and more dignified, something to keep in mind when choosing a Dachshund for yourself.
Dachshunds have a lot of energy and stamina and definitely need their daily exercise. They do well with some good playtime, time to explore and maybe hunt outdoors and daily walks. Do keep in mind though that Dachshunds are indoor dogs and should not be kept outdoors all day or for long periods of time.
Good With Children
Dachshunds are typically very good with children they are introduced to early on and are raised around. They don’t tend to do as well with children they’ve never met before, something to keep in mind when your kid’s friends come over to play.
Because Dachshunds are small and don’t necessarily enjoy too rough of play, it’s important to teach your children how to respect your Dachshund’s space and how to properly handle and play with him.
Good With Other Dogs
Dachshunds tend to do well with other dogs, especially if they are socialized with other dogs from a young age (definitely recommended to ensure you won’t have trouble with other dogs as he grows older and more attached to you and your family). They aren’t shy about meeting new friends and can also enjoy canine playmates from time to time to run around with.
Dachshunds don’t shed very much at all, whether you have a wirehaired or a longhaired one. With the proper care and grooming, any shedding can easily be managed and avoided.
Depending on whether you have a wirehair or a longhair Dachshund will determine the specific grooming needs. In general, though, Dachshunds don’t require a lot of grooming and are easy to maintain.
For wirehairs: wirehaired Dachshunds do well with regular brushing and don’t need baths very often at all unless they get themselves exceptionally dirty from rolling in the mud or something. They usually do well with a simple wipe down using a damp cloth. Wirehaired Dachshunds also need to have their coats “stripped” at least 2-3 times a year – please consult a grooming professional or your breeder to learn how this is done.
For longhairs: longhaired Dachshunds must be brushed regularly to avoid their hair getting tangled and matted. They also need bathing more frequently than wirehaired Dachshunds, and they also do best with getting their hair gently blow dried after each bath.
For either type of Dachshund, their nails need to be trimmed once or twice a month (you shouldn’t be able to hear their nails clicking on the floor) and their teeth should be brushed at least 2-3 times a week, daily is preferred in order to prevent tartar build up and disease.
While grooming your Dachshund, also be sure to pay attention to his ears and check and clean them regularly (you can do this with a veterinary-approved ear cleaner and a cotton ball, only go as deep as the first knuckle on your finger and never stick a cotton swab or Q-tip into your Dachshund’s ear). Because Dachshunds have droopy ears, this can increase their chances of developing fungi, bacteria, and mites in their ears if not properly taken care of.
Also note that Dachshunds can be sensitive to extreme temperatures, especially the cold, and may need to wear a sweater during cold seasons to help keep them warm.
Tips: make grooming a fun and rewarding experience for your Dachshund from the time they are young. This will make it all the easier for you when they grow older. Frequently handle their ears and paws to avoid them developing any sensitivities over time. Treat the toothbrush like a game when they’re a puppy until they’re used to it before adding the toothpaste.
Dachshunds do have a high tendency of barking. They have a deep sound when they bark that sounds like it should be coming from a bigger dog. This tendency comes along with their history of hunting so that they would be able to alert their owners and be safely located when needed. This is something to keep in mind if you have irritable neighbors and is also something you can work within training.
Trainability/Tips For Training
As mentioned, Dachshunds can have a stubborn streak that can make them difficult to housebreak. They often just don’t see the point in having to go potty outdoors. Practice, consistency, and patience are all necessary when housebreaking a Dachshund. Crate training is also highly recommended for this breed (though do note they should not be kept in a crate all day or for long periods at a time, crates should simply be used as a support during potty training and a place for them to retreat to or sleep).
For training in general, make sure training sessions are short and fun. Dachshunds can easily get bored if they are made to repeat the same thing over and over again. They do great with positive reinforcement (treats, toys, etc.). Also keep in mind that your Dachshund should not be leaping on and off furniture, as this can injure their backs and joints. It’s recommended to train them to use ramps and/or steps. Training is also a great time to help address any barking habits and to teach them when it’s okay and not okay to bark.
Also be sure to socialize your Dachshund from a young age with other dogs and people. This will help make sure they grow to be good with other dogs and people and not develop any major attachment, protective or jealous habits.
How To Feed My Dachshund
It is important to note that Dachshunds do love their food and have a tendency of overeating and growing fat and lazy. Because of their size and general structure, it’s important that they don’t gain too much weight. If you’re ever unsure about whether they are gaining too much weight, you can either consult a veterinary professional or follow this general rule of thumb: you should be able to feel, but not see their ribs without pushing too hard and be able to see their waistline when looking down at them.
For your Dachshund (and every dog breed really), you want to be sure you are giving them raw, natural food. They are living beings with digestive systems that stem from their “wolf” heritage (hard to believe when they’re so small, but it’s true). Processed foods do more harm than good for them over time.
Raw food tastes better to them. Its ingredients are simple, it is good for their health and helps keep their coats nice and shiny, it keeps them satisfied and happy and ultimately it saves you money (a pretty good perk)! For more information on how to provide your dog a good, safe, raw food diet, check out our page here.
For dog food in general (especially if you insist on sticking to bagged, kibble food) you want to be sure healthy meats are the highlight ingredient and that the food is not stuffed with additives and ingredients you cannot even pronounce. You especially want to avoid grains and artificial flavorings. Just as you want to be careful with what foods you are putting in your body, so should you also be for your little furry companion.
In general, when your puppy is 8-12 weeks old, he likely will be needing to eat at least 3-4 times a day. You want to be sure you are feeding your puppy the amount he needs, but also not too much. Again, you should be able to feel, but not see their ribs and they should have a visible waist when you are looking down at them.
Feeding Your Adult
By 6 months you will want to start reducing the amount of food you feed your Dachshund to fit an adult Dachshund feeding plan (about 2 meals a day). Make it a routine, feeding your Dachshund around the same times every day. You should be feeding your Dachshund 1/2 – 1 1/2 cups of food a day, split between the two meals. It is recommended to avoid giving them table scraps and “people” food, as this can cultivate begging habits and a tendency for weight gain and health problems. This is a rule that should be implemented from the very beginning and be understood by everyone in the family and members of your social circle who spend time around your Dachshund.
It should be noted that the amount of food you feed a dog ultimately depends on their size, weight, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Be sure you know your Dachshund and his individual needs, especially when it comes to feeding.
Health Concerns For Dachshunds
Every breed of dog has its own health concerns and issues to which it is prone. Though generally healthy dogs, Dachshunds are no different. If you give them the proper attention and care, however, most health problems can be avoided. Some of the most common health concerns Dachshunds are prone to include:
- Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) – Dachshunds are especially prone to back problems (which is why making sure they don’t leap from furniture and also supporting their back while holding them is so important). Back injury or issues can lead to disease and paralysis. Clinical attention may be necessary in the case of back problems.
- Epilepsy – Dachshunds can be prone to seizures. It can be genetic or due to a head injury. If your Dachshund shows signs of seizure activity (can manifest differently in different dogs), it’s important to seek out veterinary help.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) – this is a degenerative eye disorder that can eventually lead to blindness and loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. Though not fatal, it can make general living difficult for Dachshunds.
Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) – also known as Bloat or Torsion, this is a life-threatening condition for Dachshunds and needs medical attention immediately. It usually affects larger breeds, but can appear in Dachshunds due to their long, deep chests. It’s basically when the dog is unable to dispel extra air from their stomach, which can lead to dangerous stomach distension, lack of blood flow to the heart and shock.
- Cushings Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism) – this condition happens when too much cortisol (stress hormone) gets processed in the body. It can be due to a pituitary or renal gland imbalance or other factors.
- Canine Diabetes Mellitus (DM) – this is a case of diabetes that can occur in Dachshunds, especially if they are overweight.
- Deafness – this isn’t super common in Dachshunds, though has been known to occur in double dapple Dachshunds (Dachshunds with dappled coloring).
If you ever have questions or concerns about your Dachshund, be sure to consult a veterinary professional. If you take the proper care of your Dachshund and make sure to get him frequent medical examinations though, many of these health issues can be prevented.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dachshunds
Q. Which Dachshund sheds the least?
A. Wirehaired Dachshunds shed the least, though the breed in general doesn’t shed that much, especially with proper care and grooming.
Q. Can Dachshunds swim?
A. Dachshunds can be taught to swim, but can never be strong swimmers due to their short legs and general body structure.
Q. Can Dachshunds live outside?
A. Though they may enjoy time outdoors, Dachshunds are meant to be indoor dogs.
Q. Where should I buy a Dachshund?
A. You can buy a Dachshund from a trusted breeder or adopt one that’s in need of a good home. Do your research and avoid irresponsible breeders, puppy mills and pet stores.
Q. Will Dachshunds kill cats?
A. Dachshunds actually have been known to get along alright with cats, and can even befriend them if they are raised around them. If your Dachshund shows aggressive behavior towards cats though, it’s probably best to keep them separate.
Q. What to do when my Dachshund will not stop barking?
A. As mentioned, Dachshunds do have barking tendencies and it’s something that is best addressed in training. You can train them to stop with a command or a clicker. Positive reinforcement in training can help as well.
Q. Where does the Dachshund rank in intelligence?
A. Dachshunds rank as average when it comes to intelligence in training/obedience and when compared to other breeds.
Q. Why will Dachshunds bite?
A. Since Dachshunds were initially bred for hunting, they can develop a tendency to be mouthy and have been known to bite. They have shown to be most aggressive towards strangers or anything they feel threatened by. If your Dachshund shows biting tendencies, it’s something to address as soon as possible in obedience training. Biting can also be prevented if you socialize your Dachshund from a young age with people and other dogs.
Q. When will a Dachshund puppy stop growing?
A. Dachshunds are typically considered full grown between 9-12 months of age.
Q. Are Dachshunds hunting dogs?
A. Technically yes, they were initially bred to be hunting dogs for small, burrowing animals and badgers. They are not commonly used for this purpose anymore, though they may still show signs of it and display hunting instincts.
Probably one of the most interesting shaped, strong spirited, independent little dogs, Dachshunds can make great companions and ultimately just want to be loved and cared for by good parents and a family. You’ll likely never have a boring day with a Dachshund at your side and you’ll have a great cuddler, playmate and adventure buddy to tote with you wherever you go for many years to come.
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