The Dachshund probably originated in Germany in the early 1600s. The breed’s streamlined shape and bold attitude were developed and perfected to help them hunt, and eventually to fight, badgers and other mammals deep within their underground dens. The badger was a formidable adversary, especially to a small dog. Badger-dogs needed strength, stamina, keenness and courage, both above and below ground, to be successful. Dachshunds were well-suited to this task. Packs of Dachshunds also were used to hunt wild boar, foxes, deer, ermine, weasel and rabbits.
Dachshunds were recorded in the English stud book as German Badger Hounds in 1874, contributing to the mistaken belief that Dachshunds are hounds rather than terriers. As long ago as 1906, a breed expert commented: “That it is used occasionally as a hound in the sense that it follows rabbits and hares by scent as does a beagle, does not alter the fact that it is essentially a dog that goes to earth and is therefore a terrier.” In 1927, a great dog historian (Edward Ash) commented that a Dachshund is, in fact, a terrier with very crooked legs, but possessing in a very great degree both the appearance and fine nose of the beagle. Some say that the best way to settle the hound-versus-terrier argument is to say that the Dachshund is a hound that became a terrier, and that it displays the best qualities of both.
The Dachshund Club of England was formed in 1881, and the German Deutscher Teckelklub was formed in 1888. The German breed standard was set in 1879. Registration of Dachshunds was included in an all-breed studbook even before the German Dachshund Club was founded. After World War II, management of the breed fell to the German breed clubs, which focused on the dogs’ hunting capabilities rather than conformation, producing a more terrier-like dog.
Eleven Dachshunds were included in the American Kennel Club’s Stud Book in 1885. Dachshunds rapidly gained popularity in America. The Dachshund Club of America was founded in 1895, and by 1914 Dachshunds were among the top ten breeds exhibited at the glamorous Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
Dachshunds are rarely used for hunting in the United States, although they excel in field trials and earth dog tests, demonstrating their keen hunting instincts and using their instinctive go-to-ground abilities. Doxies are small enough to live happily in an apartment, yet sturdy enough to live in the country. Outdoors, they are hardy, vigorous and tireless; indoors, they are affectionate, companionable, eager to please and alert in announcing strangers.
The average life expectancy for this breed is between 12 and 15 years. Breed health concerns may include sick sinus syndrome, patent ductus arteriosus, pattern baldness, cutaneous asthenia, immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, lipomas, liposarcoma, congenital deafness, intervertebral disc disease, atlantoaxial subluxation and a number of ocular disorders or conditions.