Have you ever wondered why your Dachshund has such a long body? Maybe you’re just curious about the elongated shape of the Dachshund breed. Here’s everything you need to know about why Dachshunds have long bodies!
Why Do Dachshunds Have Long Bodies? Dachshunds have long bodies for crawling into burrows to hunt badgers. German breeders used a gene mutation called chondrodysplasia to stunt the growth of a Dachshund’s legs. So although Dachshunds appear to have a long body, they actually just have short legs!
Read on to find out why Dachshunds were originally bred to have their long shape, and the scientific reasons as to why Dachshunds have such a unique, extended form.
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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.
Why Do Dachshunds Have A Long Body?
Dachshunds, also known as sausage dogs or wiener dogs, get their nicknames from their round, long bodies which remind people of sausages or wieners!
Their short legs are in fact the most disproportionate part of their body. They were bred this way so they could crawl into burrows to hunt badgers.
Historically, German breeders used a gene mutation that stunted the development of a Dachshund’s legs.
So even though Dachshunds appear to have a long body, they actually just have short little legs!
What Were Dachshunds Originally Bred For?
Dachshunds were originally bred in Germany over three hundred years ago as a working dog. They were used for hunting badgers.
Their purpose is right there in their name, Dachshund. It literally translates from German into English as “badger dog”, as “dachs” means badger, and “hund” means dog.
Dachshunds were bred to sniff out badgers (and any other type of animals which live in burrows!) and then dive into the burrows to catch them.
These days, it might seem unbelievable to think of your sweet little Dachshund being capable of such ferocious hunting. But it’s true!
A Dachshund is powerful and fearless enough to take on and kill an animal as aggressive as a badger.
Their short height doesn’t mean they aren’t incredibly powerful. Dachshunds are brave little dogs with a keen sense of smell and a great ability to fight their prey.
Why Were Dachshunds Bred To Have Such Long Bodies?
While a Dachshund’s short legs keep them close to the ground, their long bodies also have huge advantages.
They’re able to crawl into burrows to chase their prey. Just as they would have done in nature as hunting dogs.
Dachshunds were specifically bred by German breeders who developed the Dachshunds long back through gene mutation, for hunting purposes.
So they basically have certain features as a result of their genetic breeding:
A Dachshund’s long body was an important characteristic for when they were hunting badgers and other burrowing animals.
Their long bodies allowed them to be strong enough and heavy enough to chase their prey at a fast pace, while also being able to fight their prey with power.
This means that despite their small legs keeping them close to the ground for diving into burrows, Dachshunds were also strong enough to capture the prey they were after.
A Dachshund’s long body shape would have been perfect for manoeuvring through tunnels and finding their prey.
With their long, flexible spine allowing them to bend and turn through a burrow during a chase.
Also, a Dachshund’s long back and curved tail meant it was easier for their owners to pull them out of a burrow if they needed to.
That sounds pretty horrific these days, but it’s what used to happen during a hunt!
What Is The Genetic Reason For A Dachshund’s Long Body?
Breeders didn’t want Dachshunds to have short legs and a proportionately short body.
That’s because this wouldn’t have been as beneficial to the hunting purposes for which Dachshunds were specifically bred.
The longer body was an intentional choice with many advantages for hunting. So, how did breeders enable this to happen?
The specific gene mutation giving Dachshunds their unique shape is called chondrodysplasia.
This is a condition which affects only their leg cartilage, allowing the rest of their bodies to develop without abnormality.
The Dachshund’s gene mutation therefore only stunts the development of their legs, not the rest of their body.
Dachshunds, as a result, appear to have a long body which is disproportionate to the size of their very short legs.
In reality though, they actually just have short legs. The back just looks long as it’s out of proportion with the rest of their body.
Breeders have intentionally ensured that Dachshunds have a spine which isn’t stunted in growth, but legs which have abnormally developed to be very short.
This gives Dachshunds their adorable short size and characteristic longer body length!
And that’s why people affectionately refer to them as ‘wieners’ or ‘sausage dogs!’.
So, there you have it! Dachshunds were bred to have long bodies so they could scrabble down into burrows quickly to hunt their prey.
Breeders used a gene mutation called chondrodysplasia, which is a kind of dwarfism trait, to stunt the development of a Dachshund’s legs. So although Dachshunds look like they have long bodies, they actually just have short, stubby legs!
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