Dachshunds - Low-Slung Sportsters of the Canine World

By: granola
Dachshunds were bred specifically for hunting badgers. Selective breeding focused on the tenacity needed to pursue its prey until it was caught, and the physical features that would allow the dog to follow the badger into a hole and pull it out. In German - the country of origin for the Dachshund - "dachs" means badger. These dogs were, quite literally, badger hounds. These little dogs have also been trained to hunt other small animals, including rabbits and foxes.

The years of selective breeding have created a dog with short legs, ideal for digging and allowing the dog to stand upright in tight holes. The fact that the dog hasn't lost its length gives it a rather distinctive look, but also creates some health problems. Many of these little dogs have problems with their hips and backs, largely because of the elongated body. These dogs aren't generally able to jump very well and jumping can cause additional harm to backs and hips. These dogs also tend to become overweight easily, which can aggravate the back problems. That body has earned them the nickname, "Weenie Dog" or "Weiner Dog."

Dachshunds come in three distinct types - long haired, wire haired and short haired. The short haired Dachshunds are easy to groom while the long haired and wire haired breeds require more extensive grooming. Both shed some, but not significantly. The dogs also come in three sizes - standard, miniature and toy. Standards weigh up to 20 pounds, but the miniature and toy varieties typically weigh in at nine and eight pounds, respectively.

Dachshunds are extremely quick to catch on to new things. They do learn tricks easily. Coupled with their clown-like appearance, this makes these dogs ideal for performing. They also make devoted family pets, though they can be somewhat irritable and territorial. They may not be ideal for households with small children, though Dachshunds and children who are raised together can become quite inseparable. With this breed, socialization is extremely important.

Dachshunds need plenty of exercise. Though they'll play and romp indoors to achieve at least part of that, they tend to love being outside. They'll play for hours at favorite games or simply running along chasing nothing. Plenty of exercise is a good way to help keep down the weight that Dachshunds tend to gain so easily. Remember that these dogs were bred for hunting and they have retained the stamina of their ancestors. As a rule, these dogs have wide chests and sturdy legs that can go for hours of hunting or playing.

Dachshunds come in several colors. The majority of Dachshunds are brown, black or a combination of the two colors. Often, these dogs are brown with a black stripe that runs the length of the body. Other color variations are acceptable. Some may be mottled or have a pattered called "piebald."

The tenacity of the Dachshunds makes them less than ideal for some owners. These dogs will try to be masters of their universe, limited though it might be. But if you're up for a challenge, consider the low-slung Dachshund.
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