In this article one of our Holidays 4 Dogs coordinators discusses another popular dog breed in the U.K. – the Dachshund.

Dachshunds make delightful companions for those people looking for a small dog in a big dog package! While small and handy to take around and clean about the house, they can be an energetic and entertaining little breed of dog with enthusiasts the world over.

This dog originated in Germany and was bred to be shorter on the leg to aid their purpose as hunting dogs; primarily hunting badgers which were considered to be a pest at the time, but also tackling foxes and rabbits and when hunting in packs, tracking larger game such as deer and wild boar. ‘Dachs- means badger and; hund’ means dog; thus translated Dachshund, (pronounced ‘dax – hoond’ as opposed to ‘dash hound’) means ‘Badger Dog’.

Their lower stature enabled them to enter thick cover and narrow burrows and their tenacious attitude meant they were fearless hunters capable of covering ground very quickly, despite their short legs.

It is said that these dogs first appeared in the U.K in 1840 when a number of smooth haired dogs were given to Albert (Prince Consort) the husband of Queen Victoria and lived at Windsor where they were used on pheasant shoots. Today, the Queen owns several dachshunds and of course the famous ‘Dorgis’; dachshund cross corgis.

There are several different types of Dachshund in the U.K. The Standard Dachshund variety are a sturdier than their miniature counterparts weighing around 20 – 26 lbs; miniatures weighing in at a lighter 10 or 11 lbs. Both the standard and miniatures have three coat types; smooth, long-haired and wire-haired.

The true working dachshund is referred to as the Teckel in the both Germany and the U.K. There are a few dedicated followers of the working dachshund in the U.K. and in Germany, dogs must pass a blood scent trial before being registered as a full working Teckel. In the U.K Teckels were founded by Mr Richard Brydges-Price during the 1970’s and now Mr Nick Valentine from the Ryford Chase Hunt in Herefordshire runs the U.K Teckel Society and stud book. Teckels are generally wire coated and are used in the U.K for deer stalking in places such as Northumberland and Scotland and are generally far removed from Kennel Club registered show types.

Having owned both Standard Longhaired show bred Dachshunds and a Teckel myself, I can testify that Teckels are probably not suited to first time dog owners!. Some would say the Teckel is a much hardier, sturdier type and they can, and do hunt and track all day long. They are agile and quick and tend to be slightly longer on the leg than some show bred dogs.

Essentially, this is a hunting dog and while they are now primarily bred as show and pet dogs, they still retain their hunting instincts and as such, can be somewhat demanding to train; often being strong willed and independent. While they are not generally noted for their devoted obedience, they are nevertheless intelligent little dogs and the experienced and patient owner can really bring out the best in them. Some dogs have been successful in both obedience and agility in various places throughout the world; notably the US and Japan. However, if you are looking for a dog to make up to an obedience or agility champion, the dachshund is unlikely to be the first choice!

The standard dogs are probably more suited to family life, being that little bit sturdier. The long coated variety are a little ‘softer’ in nature and arguably, this could be associated with introduction of spaniel blood in the early original specimens, which accounts for the longer hair. It is said the smooth variety had pinscher blood introduced and certainly the smooth coated dogs can sometimes be a little feistier in nature, particularly the miniatures. The wires also tend to have more gregarious ‘personalities’. The standards have deep barks too, reminiscent of a much larger dog while the miniatures do tend to be a little ‘yappier’. Miniatures will make do with much less in the way of exercise, but with both sizes great care must be taken to ensure they are not over exercised, especially when young and most definitely should never be allowed to become over weight at any time in their lives.

Because of their stature, some dachshunds can suffer from Invertebral Disc Disease. The miniature dachshund is unfortunately also very prone to Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which is an inherited disease of the retina in the dog’s eye. All miniature dachshunds should be tested for this prior to breeding, so never buy from breeders with un-tested animals.

All in all, Dachshunds make lovely family pets and buying from reputable breeders with extensive knowledge of the breed and with proper up-bringing and care, Dachshunds are hardy and long lived animals with the most enchanting and versatile personalities, from lap dog to hunting dog.