Do you have a Dachshund? Are you wondering about the origins of the breed? Do you want to know where their natural instincts come from? Here’s everything need to know about the history of a Dachshund.
What Is The History of A Dachshund? Dachshunds were originally bred in Germany as hunting dogs to flush badgers from their setts. It’s thought they’ve been around since the 15th century, but it wasn’t until the 17th century that the breed started being developed in Germany for use as hunting dogs.
But wait, there’s more you need to know! Read on to find out the full history of the Dachshund breed, how Dachshunds have evolved, what breeds were used to make Dachshunds, and how popular the breed is around the world!
Table of Contents
- What Is The History Of The Dachshund Breed?
- What Happened To Dachshunds During The War?
- Are Dachshunds Seen As A Positive Symbol?
- Are Dachshunds Popular Across The World?
- Has The Dachshund Breed Evolved?
- What Is The Origin Of The Miniature Dachshund?
- What Dog Breeds Were Used To Make Dachshunds?
- Is A Dachshund A Hound?
This article is based on research and personal experience as a Dachshund owner of 10+ years. I’m not a Vet, qualified dog trainer or dog behaviourist.
What Is The History Of The Dachshund Breed?
Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers. The name Dachshund translates from German as ‘badger dog’, with ‘dachs’ meaning badger and ‘hund’ meaning dog. Dachshunds were introduced to the US around the 1880s, and became popular in the 30s and 40s.
In the UK, Dachshunds were first introduced in 1840. They were brought back by the Royal Family for hunting pheasants. Queen Victoria was apparently very fond of the breed, which helped with their popularity.
From the time the Royals brought Dachshunds back to the UK, they became popular dogs for people to keep in their homes.
Dachshunds have continued to be popular with the Royal Family. In fact, Queen Elizabeth has a ‘Dorgi’, after one of her corgis mated with a Dachshund!
What Happened To Dachshunds During The War?
During the First and Second World Wars, the popularity of Dachshunds diminished because of their connection to Germany. The dogs actually became a symbol of Germany in the minds of many people.
Heartbreakingly, across the UK and the US, this led to Dachshunds being attacked and killed in the streets. Anyone who owned a Dachshund was labelled a German sympathiser or even attacked.
For a short time in the US, they were called ‘liberty hounds’ or ‘badger dogs’ to try to reduce the association with Germany.
Are Dachshunds Seen As A Positive Symbol?
These days, Dachshunds are seen as a positive symbol of Germany. In 1972, when the Olympic Games came to Germany, a Dachshund called Waldi was the official mascot!
Apparently the Dachshund was chosen, not just because of his association with Germany, but because he represented the resistance, tenacity and agility the athletes needed to be successful in the Olympic Games.
These are three qualities that Dachshunds have by the bucketload!
Are Dachshunds Popular Across The World?
Dachshunds are extremely popular across the world for their comedic, loyal, loving personalities and adorable lap dog size. The standard and miniature sizes are the only Dachshunds recognised in the UK and US. In Europe they also have the rabbit (kaninchen) size.
Dachshunds come in smooth-haired, long-haired and wire-haired varieties, and a number of coat colours and patterns.
These include chocolate and tan, chocolate and cream, red, cream, black and tan, black and cream, blue, Isabella, one-colour, two-colour, dapple, piebald, brindle and sable.
Has The Dachshund Breed Evolved?
The Dachshund breed has evolved over time. Modern Dachshunds are slightly smaller than the Dachshunds that were originally bred in Germany in the 17th century. However, many of their features and behaviours are the same.
These are all flashbacks to his hunting days, when his job was to sniff out badgers, scurry down into their setts and drive them out so the hunters could (sadly) shoot them.
That’s why the Dachshund has a unique sausage shape. They were originally bred with their characteristically long, low bodies so they could easily tunnel down into badger setts or chase their prey through thick undergrowth.
A Dachshund’s chest is deep to give him enough lung capacity to stay underground for long periods of time. His paws are big and paddle-like to help him dig. His skin is loose so it doesn’t tear when he squeezes down badger holes. His nose is pointy for sniffing into holes and easily picking up scents. His claws are big to help with digging, and fighting badgers! His ears are floppy to keep dirt out while burrowing.
The Dachshund’s feisty, independent spirit comes from his badger hunting days too. Well, if you’re going to burrow down into a sett and face a badger, you don’t want to be shy and scared, do you?!
Is this why Dachshunds are stubborn?
You may have also noticed that your Dachshund loves to bark. This is yet another throwback to his hunting days.
Dachshunds needed to have a loud, sharp bark (helped by their deep chest and lung capacity!) so they could signal where they were to their hunters when underground.
Nowadays, your Dachshund will probably bark when he hears or sees people walking past the house or coming to the door.
Annoying as this can get, it’s all part of their instinct to protect their pack and ward off anyone who’s intruding on their pack’s territory.
What Is The Origin Of The Miniature Dachshund?
When the Dachshund was first bred in Germany, it was quite a bit larger and taller than the Dachshunds we know and love today. In fact, they looked more like Basset Hounds.
Standard Dachshunds were perfect for hunting larger animals like badgers and wild boar, or even tracking wounded deer. However, they still weren’t small enough to hunt smaller animals like rabbits.
So, breeders developed the miniature Dachshund by selectively breeding the smallest Dachshunds. The miniature Dachshund was the perfect size for zipping down rabbit holes and flushing out smaller prey.
Nowadays, miniature Dachshunds are hugely popular pets, with their affectionate nature and adorable looks.
Despite their small size, they’re full of energy and stamina. They keep going and going and going – just as they did when hunting.
What Dog Breeds Were Used To Make Dachshunds?
Dachshunds were created by selectively breeding the dwarf gene into taller hunting dogs. This may have included Bloodhounds, Pinschers, Terriers, the Schweisshund (Hanover Hound) and the German Bibarhund.
Dwarf mutations of the dogs were bred until they achieved the shortened legs they needed for their hunting dogs.
It’s not known exactly what breeds were used to create the different types of Dachshunds, but there are a few possibilities.
For example, the smooth-haired Dachshund is thought to have either been a cross between a Pinscher and Bruno Jura Hound, a cross between a Pointer, Pinscher and Brake Bloodhound, or a development of the St Hubert Hound.
The wire-haired and long-haired Dachshunds were likely created by crossing the smooth-haired Dachshund with wire-haired and long-haired breeds.
For example, wire-haired Pinschers and Terriers, and perhaps the long-haired German Pointer or long-haired Spaniel breeds.
Is A Dachshund A Hound?
Yes, Dachshunds are hounds. The Kennel Club categorises the Dachshund within the Hound Group. Hounds are hunting dogs, and as we know Dachshunds were originally bred to hunt badgers and rabbits. Dachshunds are Scent Hounds, which means they hunt by scent rather than by sight.
Some people mistake Dachshunds for Terriers. They do look a bit like some types of British Terrier (like the Dandie Dinmont), and they have many Terrier behaviours (such as digging!), but they’re definitely Hounds. Unlike Terriers, a Hound’s instincts is to track and hunt.
So, there you have it! Dachshunds originate from Germany and are thought to have been around since the 15th century. However, it wasn’t until the 17th century that the breed started being developed in Germany as a hunting dog. You can still see many original traits in modern day Dachshunds like stubbornness, barking, burrowing and digging!