The Dachshund has been described as half a dog high and two dogs long, a pretty apt description, but is much more than that.
|Maggie (Can. Ch. Jordemm's Black Magic) is a quality speciman of the Breed. Click on her picture to see more of Maggie|
|Stormy (Can. Ch. Jordemm's Stormin' Norman, who won Best of Breed at the Easten Canada Dachshund Club Annual Specialty Show, is a quality specimen of the Breed. Click on his picture to see more of him.|
In the Beginning . . .or, how we got into Dachshunds
In 1984 when I was first looking to get a companion animal, my wife, who, prior to
my meeting her, had
lived in Germany for several years, told me that the only dog she would even consider
would be a Long-Haired Dachshund. When I asked her why, she replied that while they were
dogs, they thought that they were humans! The comment remained with me and a couple of
months later when I contacted Barb Simonds, a local breeder of Standard Long-Haired Dachshunds, I asked
her to tell me something about the breed and she also said that while they were dogs, they
thought they were humans.
What it really boils down to is that the Dachshund is really is a free thinker. He has to be, because he was bred to do one of the most difficult tasks -- to go "to ground" for badger (which as we all know, is the meanest animal ever created). Because of their intelligence, Dachshunds have been used in a wide variety of hunting situations, ranging from going to ground for badger to assisting Otterhounds (as the Dachshund has partially webbed feet) to tracking wounded bears. As a result, the Dachshund has the ability to think on his feet. The consequence of this is that doing obedience trials with a Dachshund is not as simple as doing it with a sporting breed, herding breed or working breed dog. The Dachshund will not perform what he considers to be meaningless or irrational.
In the United States, there are 3 varieties of Dachshunds (Long-Haired, Smooth and Wire-Haired) and these three varieties are divided by size: Standard and Miniature. In Canada they are treated as six separate breeds. While the major portions of the breed standard to which the Dachshund should conform is the same, the miniatures weight 11 pounds and under, and the standards over 11 pounds -- generally 18 to 28 pounds, although Dachshunds weighing 35 pounds were used to hunt wild boar. Ideally, the Miniature Dachshund should be a Dachshund in miniature, and not look like something structurally different. The smooth coat looks shiny, like a seal, while the long-haired coat has flowing fringes under the body (called a "skirt", with "pants" behind his back legs and a "bib" under his chin), a flag under the tail and fringes on the ears. The wire-haired variety has a thick, tight double coat, with furnishings which includes eyebrows and beard.
There are subtle differences in the temperaments of the different varieties, although not every dog will exhibit the differences. The wire-haired varieties tend to be feistier, mainly due to the terrier blood that they have in them, whereas the long-haired variety tends to be more laid back due to the spaniel blood that they have in them. However, I have seen a female standard wire-haired Dachshund who was a real wimp, and a Standard Long-Haired Dachshund who was ready to take on all comers.
Dachshunds are clean animals and have no "doggie odour". The Smooth variety is non-allergenic and will not affect anyone suffering from respiratory allergies. The Long-Haired variety has skin similar to the human skin -- he will shed hair, but the skin dander is less allergenic that most other breeds.
Independence, intelligence and courage, agility and stamina, together with extremely well developed senses, and the ability to make decisions, were important while off on his own foraging through the bush, chasing after or ferreting out his quarry. If the badger's burrow was too small, he would enlarge it as necessary to get to it. The Dachshund remains a very persistent and persevering, definite and determined, clever, calculating individual. He is animated, bold and brash. He is fun and fearless, and can exhibit what is jokingly referred to as "Dachshund Deafness" when choosing to ignore you or a command he would prefer not to follow or consider not worthwhile. Dachshunds can become quite indignant if ridiculed or fooled, and are sometimes somewhat spiteful.
Over time the breed had changed somewhat in appearance. Having seen photos of what
Dachshunds looked like in the late 1800's, the breed is definitely less awkward and
ungainly looking and more refined. Today their front legs are not as crooked looking and
pointing "east-west" as they had been, and the rear quarters are not
"cowhocked". The refinements make for a better balanced and more stylish dog. On
a short sprint (50 yards or so), the Dachshund has been known to outrace a German
Shepherd, as it runs in what is called "a double-suspended gallop", like the
sight-hounds! However, throughout time, the Dachshund has had a well sprung rib cage,
scissors bite and powerful jaws. The compression strength of their jaws measures similar
to the German Shepherd, the Rottweiler and the Doberman Pinscher.
Historically, the Dachshund was given special treatment by the hunt masters. They would hunt their quarry as did all the other hounds, but they resided with the hunter or game keeper. This hunting instinct is still strong in the Dachshund, and once he has "locked onto" his quarry, he will persist in the hunt. To this day, the Dachshund is a superb companion animal with children. Our two children, when they were little, had a check-off system as to who got to sleep with which dog each night.
The best way to train a Dachshund is to treat him as one of your children -- give him
lots of love and praise when he does something you want him to and correct his misbehavior
in as you would a childs. Remember that dogs read body language and tone of voice in
addition to eye contact. A glaring look coupled with a rumbling growl will be very clear
to him provided he knows what he did wrong in the first place.
Dachshunds will chew things unless they are trained not to. Even as breeders we have had puppies teethe on the rungs of our kitchen chairs, but not chew them afterwards when weve made it clear that this is not acceptable behavior. The awkward part of the training is the first year and a half. After that the dog really knows what he is allowed to do, and what he should not do. The rule of thumb is that you can trust a Dachshund as long as you can see him -- once out of sight, hell do what he wants to. Remember that one of the characteristics of the breed is PERSISTANCE, as a result, the hunting instinct can never be trained out of the Dachshund.
We believe in crate training, for the benefit of both the dog and the owner, as the dog regards his crate as his very own bed and apartment within the home. We do this as soon as the dog leaves the puppy pen, by ensuring that all his meals and treats are given to him when he is in the crate. That way he associates the crate with good things. When we prepare their food, the dogs mill around, but as soon as we say their name and pick up their dish, they dash for their crate. When we are going to go away from the house, we give them a treat in their crate, lock them in their crate and turn on either the radio or the TV.
The principal training that is of concern to pet owners is that their pet does not mess in the house. Actually, the training is first that of the pet owner and then the Dachshund. As soon as our dogs have had their meal, their intestines go into action and they are sent to the yard. Since this is their place for elimination (it has all the right smells!), they do their business and then come in. We also know that, like a human, when they awake, they need to go to the bathroom -- so we send them into our yard. We do the same at night. After a while, we find that our dogs will go to the yard door when they need to eliminate.
While on the subject of crates, we have found that the fiberglass crates with the small mesh panels are best and that those crates which are entirely made of wire mesh should be avoided at close quarters. I can recall camping and putting a 12-month old pup in a wire crate in our trailer and then return to find that she managed to eat away some of the upholstery that the crate was up against.
The Dachshund is protective about his human family. Our old male Yofi wouldnt let our children wander or lag behind when the family went walking. In addition, if anyone showed aggressiveness towards the children, there was a sharp warning bark, followed by a nip. My favorite story to illustrate this point took place in 1987. Our foundation bitch had only been with us a few months and she was about 2 years old at the time. My mother-in-law came to town to visit us; now my mother-in-law had no dog-sense whatsoever. She came into the house and saw our 8-month old daughter sitting on the kitchen floor, and walked over to her with outstretched hands cooing to her. Dasher, our bitch, challenged her by barking and standing in front of her, but my mother-in-law totally ignored the dog and went to pick up my daughter. When her hands were about 6-inches from my daughter, Dasher jumped up and nipped her hand, not causing bleeding, but a firm warning to stay clear until she was "approved".
We often go camping for vacations (as not many hotels are clean, reasonably priced and allow 2 adults, 2 kids and 4 dogs in a room). We camp in suburban areas (municipal campgrounds) while we visit family and friends, and take along crates and an exercise pen for the dogs. They fare well, and if we want to go somewhere without them for a few hours, we know that they are safe and secure in their crates in the trailer (with the air conditioner running). In the car, they travel well, either lying on the seat with our children or the floor. We stop from time-to-time at the rest areas and give everyone a chance to stretch (and the dogs a chance to eliminate). One thing which we do is to ensure that we carry a supply of water that they are used to -- i.e., a thermos of water from home, or the water in the trailer (to which we had added chlorine to prevent and inhibit bacterial growth and then filter before use). Because Dachshunds will wander and hunt, we always have them on a lead -- for their safety and our peace-of-mind.
Our main concern is that the dog will be well cared for, fed properly, and kept secure
(i.e., not allowed to roam around -- good quality fencing is a must, and he must otherwise
be on a lead). We will first ask the prospective puppy owner what experience he has with
respect to dogs and Dachshunds in particular; what type of housing he lives in (is there a
yard? is it fenced?) and we try to determine whether his lifestyle is compatible to having
one of our pups (is he away from the house a lot? do all occupants of the house work?). We
try to see, as well, if the spouse (if there is one) is in accord as essentially, all
members of the household have to share in the responsibility of their new family member or
we wont place the pup with them. We also watch how the prospective buyers interact
with our older dogs, because if they avoid each other, there is no sale. (We know that
the older dogs are
expert at reading body language, and while words may lie, body language doesnt).
Once we determine that the prospect is acceptable, we may suggest a trial weekend if they wish.
We also try to determine if the prospective new owner will carry out the particular instructions for our breed, and not take the stand that "he had a dog for 20 years, and that all his dogs slept in a doghouse out in the yard, and that this one will be no exception". Care for pets has changed over time, and we want to ensure that our pups get the best level of care that there is -- this includes nutrition (that area had undergone enormous change, unfortunately not for the better).
We provide the following support to our new extended family:
We explain in detail what and how to feed -- we recommend food be home-made (from a very simple and easily modified recipe) because we do not trust what is in the commercial foods. Pup goes to his new home with a small supply of food. Some interesting reading on pet nutrition is part of this site;
We provide all the documents, including copies of the pedigree, copies of the health records from birth, an instruction sheet (answers to common questions) and the registration documents (once payment in full has been made);
We will agree to board one of our pups in the event of a family emergency;
We provide a health guarantee in our contract -- mainly to cover illness (30 days) and genetic diseases (5 years). Because we breed from sound, genetically clear stock (currently all breeding stock is OFA certified free from congenital heart problems), we have never had a guarantee claim; and
We provide a lifetime of unlimited answers to questions.
We are principally hobby breeders -- we dont make money out of breeding (in fact
it costs us considerably). Our interest is for high show quality. However, not every pup
in a litter is show quality -- generally only one or two are. Those pups that are sold as
pets are sold with non-breeding contracts which are registered with the Canadian Kennel
Club. Where the pup is a male, and we have determined (by grading the litter) that he
would not be useful for stud, we would encourage the purchaser to neuter the dog. Females
are generally not sold, unless they have a disqualifying fault for show purposes; in this
case, they would be sold with a CKC non-breeding registration. On occasion, we will sell a
half interest in a pup which has breeding potential -- however, we generally restrict such
sales to persons who already have one of our pups or have had some breeding experience.
Unless the Dachshund is useful for breeding purposes, spaying/neutering ensures that the pet will be healthy (there is a risk of cancer of the reproductive organs in unneutered/unspayed dogs).
The Dachshund functions quite well with moderate exercise. For conditioning a dog for
show I find that a brisk walk of one to 1-1/2 miles every morning (in summer before the
day's heat starts) is more than adequate. The average pet owner finds that a half hour
walk every day (such as the evening walk after supper) will suffice. Of course, a quick
sprint after a squirrel is really invigorating for the Dachshund.
Grooming the longhaired variety consists of cutting toenails and trimming back the hair on the paws so that they dont look like mops. In addition, the hair on the neck, particularly under the ears, should be trimmed back to avoid getting unruly knots, which can present a problem later on. Of course, with the smooth variety, grooming mainly consists of trimming the nails. The wire-haired variety will require, in addition to the nail trimming, some stripping.
There are several concerns the buyer should address: health and socialization are the main ones. Obviously, one should not consider buying a pup just on the strength of a phone call -- a visit to the breeder's premises are necessary. Points to consider:
Are the premises clean? Are the animals clean? Clean premises and animals mean less chance for sickness.
Where are the animals kept? Animals kept in the house tend to be more socialized than those kept in a barn. In our case, for example, the litter is whelped in a spare bedroom (not on a concrete-floored basement) which is well lit and ventilated. When the litter is old enough to almost crawl out of the whelping pen (which has 12-inch high sides), they are moved into a 4-foot by 4-foot puppy pen in our kitchen; here they are at the hub of the household, with vacuum cleaners going, telephones ringing, people coming and going, etc.. These pups are used to active human conditions, and adapt well in homes with small children.
Does the breeder let you see the pups when they are less than 4 weeks old? We do not allow any visitors to see pups while they are in the whelping pen, as we are fearful of transmitted diseases. Pups are only viewable when they are in the kitchen.
Do you see the mother and/or sire? The mother should be available, as the breeder must be the owner or lessee of the mother; the sire most likely will not be on the premises (especially in the case of top studs). Occasionally, the owner of the sire will take a pup in payment of the stud fee.
How old does the pet live to be?The average age is about 12 years old. Our first male Yofi lived to 17 years of age, and was quite active until the last year of his life; we lost our foundation bitch, Dasher, at 10 years of age due to cancer, while Maggie lived only to only age 5-1/2. I know of other Dachshunds who have lived to be 15 or more.
Copyright ©1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 & 2004 by Howard Krakower
Last updated: August 28, 2004