Dachshunds – Little Dogs with Big Personalities

Dachshund puppies

Physical Characteristics and Tendencies

Temperament: playful, loyal, curious, confident 

Bred for: hunting badgers

Weight Range: standard: 16-32 lbs | miniature: 9-11 lbs 

Height: standard: 8-9 inches | miniature: 5-6 inches 

Average lifespan: 12-16 years

Classification: Hound 

Need for attention: moderate 

Energy level: moderate 

Exercise requirements: 20-40 minutes/ day

Tendency to snore: low

Tendency to drool: low

Tendency to bark: high

Tendency to dig: high

Coat type: short-haired, long-haired and wire-haired 

Coat color: wide variety, including: black, chocolate & tan, black & tan, chocolate & cream, blue & tan, cream, tan, brindle and red

Overall grooming needs: moderate 

Conformation: long body, dolichocephalic (long muzzle), short bowed legs, floppy ears

Short-haired dachshund
Short-haired dachshund
Long-haired dachshund
Long-haired dachshund
Wire-haired dachshund
Wire-haired dachshund

History of Dachshunds

Dachshunds are long-bodied scent hounds with short legs. The word dachshund in German means “badger dog” as they were originally used to hunt ground-dwelling animals, such as badgers, foxes, weasels, deer, boar, hares and rabbits. Documents with illustrations recovered in Germany from the 15th and 16th Century are said to describe and depict long-bodied dogs resembling the dachshund. At this time, Dachshunds ranged between 16 and 35 lbs. Larger dachshunds hunted large animals and smaller dachshunds hunted small animals. Their heightened sense of smell along with their unique physical features make them perfect candidates to find, chase and capture prey living in tunnels. In the 18th and 19th Century, Dachshunds, then referred to as the Teckel, were bred by hunters. Hunters were selectively breeding these dogs to exhibit specific physical characteristics and personality traits that would be beneficial to their needs. They wanted a dog with an elongated body and large paddle shaped feet to effectively be able to dig and go in borrows. They also wanted the breed of dog to be fearless in the face of danger so if necessary, they would fight their prey to the death and a loud voice to enable them to quickly find their location. The smooth-haired dachshunds resulted from the cross breeding of a small pointer and hound breed with a small terrier-type. The long-haired and wire-haired dachshunds were developed through crossbreeding with a spaniel-type dog. 

During the 1800’s the Dachshund’s popularity rose in Great Britain as they began being favored by the royal families, including Queen Victoria and used for companionship.The demand for smaller size variations of Dachshunds arose. Dachshunds began being bred for the purpose of companionship rather than hunting, which eventually led to the development of the miniature dachshund. Dachshunds were brought over the United States and were quick to be recognized by the American Kennel Association (AKC) in 1885. The popularity of the Dachshund grew in the early 1900s. However, during WWI and WWII the breed faced discimination in England and the United States because of their association with Germany. In the mid 1900s, the Dachshund became one of the most popular companion dogs in the United States and have remained so ever since. 

1930s photo of man standing beside a dachshund in a basket

Personality Traits of Dachshunds

Most dachshunds today are not used for hunting, but remain a popular companion dog. Dachshunds are lively, clever and affectionate dogs. While small in size, dachshunds require frequent exercise and mental stimulation. They are known to intently focus on a captivating scent and can be stubborn and ignore commands at times, especially while tracking. They have a high prey drive which is why I recommend leash walking near roads or potential dangerous areas as there’s a good chance they may run off chasing a rabbit, squirrel or other small critter when given the chance. Their stubbornness can prove challenging while training, however they are quite intelligent and more than capable of learning. Being consistent and offering high value rewards helps. Remember, they were bred for perseverance and fearlessness. Despite these traits, Dachshunds are very affectionate and loving toward their family, which outweighs some frustration that may arise from their persistent desire to do as they please.  

Breed generalities of Dachshunds may vary between short-haired, long-haired and wire-haired as they resulted from different crossbreeding. For example, wired-haired Dachshunds are more closely related to terriers than the other coat types. They may be more energetic and curious than long-haired dachshunds who were bred with spaniel-type dogs. 

Dachshunds are loyal to their family members and are typically good with children in their household if they are introduced to them early on in life. It’s important to teach children to be gentle around dogs, as Dachshunds and several other breeds are more likely to react in response to an unpleasant stimulus. Dachshunds are typically wary of strangers and whether or not they are dog friendly depends a lot on socialization and past experiences. Early socialization and training helps Dachshunds develop a tolerance to strangers and other animals. Dachshunds are a suitable breed for first time dog owners as long as they are willing to dedicate time to socializing, training and meeting their daily exercise requirements. 

Their fearless attitude, loyal and protective behavior combined with their large bark make them good watch dogs. Dachshunds can be well suited for apartment and condo living because of their size. Keep in mind that they do have a tendency to bark and can develop destructive habits if they do not receive adequate exercise. Mental enrichment provided through interactive toys, such as a snuffle mat, wobbler or puzzles help reduce the likelihood of destructiveness as it provides an outlet for their instinctual behaviors. Their curiosity, boldness and “big dog attitude” can be quite entertaining.

Young woman playing with her dachshund dog laying on the grass

Grooming Requirements

Small breed dogs are more prone to developing dental disease. Daily at-home teeth brushing combined with dental toys and treats can really help prevent or decrease the severity of dental disease.

Grooming requirements vary between dachshunds. Longer haired dachshunds require frequent grooming, including brushing, bathing and hair trims. It is important to look inside and clean their ears if necessary. Since dachshunds have big droopy ears (decreased ventilation), they are at an increased risk of developing bacterial and fungal ear infections. Nail trims should be performed as needed. If their nails get too long, it can be painful and affect their gait.

Dachshund in the bathtub

Fun Facts about Dachshunds

Dachshunds are the only breed recognized by the AKC that hunts both above and below ground. They are also the smallest breed in the AKC hound group. 

Dachshunds are often referred to as “wiener dogs” or “hot dogs” because of their elongated body shape, but in fact hot dogs were named after this breed, not the other way around. When hot dogs were first invented, they were referred to as Dachshund sausages.

The Dachshund has many nicknames, including: Weiner Dog, Sausage Dog, Hot Dog, Doxie, Doxin, Daxie, Weenies, Dashie, Dotson and in Germany they are often referred to as Dackels or Teckels.

Dachshund wearing a bowtie

Health Conditions

Dachshunds like all dog breeds, are predisposed to certain health conditions. Before breeding, Dachshunds should be screened by veterinary professionals for known hereditary health conditions.

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Purebred Dachshunds commonly develop back issues, more specifically a disease of the spine called intervertebral disc disease. The spine is made up of several small bones that form the vertebrae. In between each vertebra are joints called intervertebral discs that aid in flexibility of the spine and serve as a cushion or a shock absorber. IVDD occurs when the innermost layer of these discs begins to protrude into the spinal canal exerting pressure against the spinal cord. It can result in paralysis of the hind limbs as well as other muscles resulting in urinary and bowel incontinence. The most advanced treatment plan typically involves a combination of medication, surgery, cage rest and physical therapy. Damage to the spinal cord may be irreversible.

Dachshund with hind limb paralysis attached to a cart

Since dachshunds are prone to back issues, it’s extremely important to support their back while lifting them off the ground. To avoid potential injury, indoor ramps can be utilized for safe and easy access on and off of high furniture. 

Dachshund sitting on a bed ramp


Dachshunds are known for their ferocious appetite and are prone to weight gain. Obesity increases their chance of developing diabetes and increases stress on their spine and joints. A healthy weight can be maintained by providing adequate exercise and avoiding overfeeding. If already overweight, speak to your veterinarian about prescription diets for weight loss, such as Hill’s Metabolic.

Dachshund eating


Dachshunds are at an increased risk of developing idiopathic epilepsy, a disorder that causes seizures. The exact cause of this disorder is unknown, but certain breeds are genetically predisposed. A seizure results when a sudden change of electrical activity occurs in the brain. It’s most likely to occur at times of excitement or while falling asleep and waking up. It cannot be cured but is managed with anticonvulsant medication. Symptoms or signs of the onset of a seizure include: uncontrollable repetitive jerky movements, stiffening, muscle twitching, loss of consciousness, drooling, tongue chewing/bleeding from trauma, foaming at the mouth, involuntary urinating and defecating. Cluster seizures or acute repetitive seizures may occur. It’s important to seek immediate medical treatment if your dog has never had a seizure before or is experiencing clusters of seizures with regaining consciousness. A veterinarian will rule out other medical conditions that can cause seizures, such as toxicities, organ failure and brain tumors.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy is a hereditary eye condition that causes progressive vision loss due to destruction of the photoreceptor cells, rods and cones within the retina. Dachshunds are one of several breeds that require a certified eye exam by a board certified ophthalmologist in order to detect early signs of this disease before breeding. While there is currently no cure or treatment for PRA, it is a non-painful eye condition. Signs of PRA are all related to vision loss, including bumping into objects, walking slower than usual, hesitating to jump on furniture, etc. Complete vision loss typically occurs over a period of a couple years. Animals rely on their other senses much more than humans do and are able to adapt much quicker to being blind. 

Click here to read about how I found out my cat has Progressive Retinal Atrophy and how she manages to cope.

Image of the anatomy of the eye

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

Gastric dilatation, more commonly known as bloat can progress to a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV). Large, deep-chested dogs are most at risk, although it can occur in small breeds. Even though Dachshunds are small, they have an increased rate of incidence because they have deep chests.

Gastric dilation (bloat) occurs when the stomach distends and fills with gas. In some cases, the distended gas-filled stomach twists, not only preventing outflow of fluid and food from the stomach, but also cutting off circulation to the heart, stomach and spleen. A dog with GDV will die without emergency surgery. Timing is crucial, the longer the volvulus is present, the poorer the prognosis due to tissue damage. Surgery is required to return the stomach to the normal position, remove any dead (necrotic) tissue and prevent recurrence. Typically, gastric decompression, IV fluids help stabilize the patient in preparation for anesthesia. Following stabilization, a gastropexy is typically performed to return the stomach to its correct position as well as tacking the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent recurrence. Mortality rate ranges between 15 to 38% depending on severity of damage. 

Symptoms include: unable to sit or lie down, nervous pacing, unproductive retching, round distended abdomen, whining, difficulty breathing, increased salivation (hypersalivation), rapid heart rate and restlessness.

Dog with bloat on radiograph
Radiograph of GDV

Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism)

Cushing’s disease is an endocrine disorder caused by an increase of cortisol secretion from the adrenal glands. Cortisol serves an important purpose as it regulates a lot of body processes. It regulates metabolism and the immune response, as well as providing glucose, an immediate energy source to fuel the body’s “fight or flight” response or “survival mode” when in danger.  In a healthy pet, stress will trigger the brain to release a series of hormones that instruct the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Once blood cortisol concentrations reach a certain level, cortisol applies negative feedback to the brain to stop the release of these hormones restoring balance. Cushing’s disease is the result of a disturbance in the cycle.  The most common cause of disruption is from the development of a microadenoma in the pituitary gland, however it can also be caused by an adrenal tumor or the long term, frequent administration of steroids.

Symptoms include: polyuria/polydipsia (increased urination + thirst), increased hunger, symmetrical alopecia (hair loss) – especially around the sides of chest or abdomen, panting, pendulous abdomen, calcinosis cutis – buildup of salt deposits in the skin causing red raised lesions, lethargy, anorexia, circling, ataxia (impaired coordination/balance) and seizures.

Treatment greatly depends on the cause. The pituitary dependent form is treated with oral medications, including the preferred medication mitotane (Lysodren) or trilostane (Vetoryl). The preferred, most effective method of treating the adrenal dependent form is surgical removal of the defective adrenal gland. For iatrogenic cases, tapering doses of steroids is typically effective.

Click here for more info about Cushing’s disease.

Pendulous Abdomen
Pendulous Abdomen
Calcinosis cutis
Calcinosis cutis

Diabetes Mellitus (DM)

Diabetes Mellitus is an endocrine disorder that results from defects in insulin secretion and/or efficacy, which inhibits the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. The two main categories include: insulin deficiency, type I and insulin resistance, type II. Type I diabetes results from an immune-mediated destruction of beta cells within the pancreas leading to a complete insulin deficiency. Type II diabetes results from an insulin resistance (decreased effectiveness), defects in insulin secretion and/or glucagon secretion. Left untreated, diabetes can be life-threatening!

Clinical symptoms include: polyuria/polydipsia (PU/PD) – increased urination and thirst, polyphagia (increased hunger/eating), weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, anorexia, lethargy and weakness, chronic/recurrent infections (ex: urinary tract infections), high blood pressure (hypertension), cataracts, seizures and coma.

There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be regulated through diet, insulin injections and monitoring blood sugar levels. The goal of regulation is to maintain relatively normal blood sugar levels. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are life-threatening conditions. Dogs typically are diagnosed with type I diabetes and will require daily insulin injections. Frequent monitoring is important! If you have a type I diabetic pet, I recommend buying a glucometer and taking and recording readings before and after meals. It is a very simple procedure to do at home and will improve the veterinarians overall ability to regulate your pet. 

Click here for more info about diabetes mellitus and tips on insulin administration.

Tenting the Skin Technique
Tenting the Skin Technique

Dachshund Rescues in the United States

Silver dapple dachshund sitting on couch

Meet ATC Pet Talk's Dachshund Friends

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