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The dachshund, also known as the wiener dog or sausage dog is a short-legged, long-bodied,hound-type dog breed. They may be smooth-haired, wire-haired, or long-haired.
The standard-size dachshund was developed to scent, chase, and flush out badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the miniature dachshund was bred to hunt smaller prey such as rabbits. In the Western United States, they have also been used to track wounded deer and hunt prairie dogs.
Dachshunds also participate in conformation shows, field trials and many other events organized through pure-bred dog organizations such as the American Kennel Club (AKC). According to the AKC, the dachshund is ranked 13th in popularity among dog breeds in the United States.
The name dachshund is of German origin and literally means "badger dog," from Dachs ("European Badger") and Hund ("hound, dog"). The pronunciation varies in English, It may be mispronounced as "dash-hound" by some English speakers. Although "dachshund" is a German word, in modern German they are more commonly known by the short name Dackel or Teckel. Because of their long, narrow build, they are often nicknamed wiener dog or sausage dog.
While classified in the hound group or scent hound group in the United States and Great Britain, the breed has its own group in the countries which belong to the World Canine Federation. Many dachshunds, especially the wire-haired sub type, may exhibit behaviour and appearance that are similar to that of the Terrier group of dogs. An argument can be made for the scent (or hound) group classification because the breed was developed to use scent to trail and hunt animals, and probably descended from the Saint Hubert Hound like many modern scent hound breeds such as Bloodhounds and Basset Hounds; but with the persistent personality and love for digging that probably developed from the terrier, it can also be argued that they could belong in the Terrier, or "earth dog", group.
A typical dachshund is long-bodied and muscular with short stubby legs. Its front paws are disproportionately large, being paddle-shaped and particularly suitable for digging. Its skin is loose enough not to tear while tunnelling in tight burrows to chase prey. The dachshund has a deep chest which provides appropriate lung capacity for stamina when hunting. According to the AKC standards for the breed, "scars from honourable wounds shall not be considered a fault" because the dachshund is a hunting dog.
There are three dachshund coat varieties: smooth coat (short hair), longhaired, and wirehaired. Longhaired dachshunds have a silky coat and short featherings on legs and ears. Wirehaired dachshunds are the least common coat variety in the United States (although it is the most common in Germany) and the most recent coat to appear in breeding standards. Dachshunds have a wide variety of colours and patterns, the most common one being red. Their base coloration can be single-coloured (either red or cream), tan pointed (black and tan, chocolate and tan, blue and tan, or Isabella and tan), and in wirehaired dogs, a colour referred to as wild boar. Patterns such as dapple (merle), sable, brindle and piebald also can occur on any of the base colours. Dachshunds in the same litter may be born in different coat colours depending on the genetic makeup of the parents.
The dominant colour in the breed is red, followed by black and tan. Tan pointed dogs have tan (or cream) markings over the eyes, ears, paws, and tail. The reds range from coppers to deep rusts, with or without somewhat common black hairs peppered along the back, face and ear edges, lending much character and an almost burnished appearance; this is referred to among breeders and enthusiasts as an "overlay" or "sabling". Sabling should not be confused with a more unusual coat colour referred to as sable. At a distance, a sable dachshund looks somewhat like a black and tan dog. Upon closer examination, however, one can observe that along the top of the dog's body, each hair is actually banded with red at the base near the skin transitioning to mostly black along the length of the strand. An additional striking coat marking is the brindle pattern. "Brindle" refers to dark stripes over a solid background—usually red. If a dachshund is brindled on a dark coat and has tan points, it will have brindling on the tan points only. Even one single, lone stripe of brindle is a brindle. If a dachshund has one single spot of dapple, it is a dapple.
The Dachshund Club of America (DCA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) consider both the piebald pattern and the double dapple (double merle) pattern to be nonstandard. However, both types continue to be shown and sometimes even win in the conformation ring.
Dogs that are double dappled have the merle pattern of a dapple, but with distinct white patches that occur when the dapple gene expresses itself twice in the same area of the coat. The DCA excluded the wording "double-dapple" from the standard in 2007 and now strictly uses the wording "dapple" as the double dapple gene is commonly responsible for blindness and deafness.
Dachshunds come in three sizes: standard, miniature, and kaninchen (German for "rabbit"). Although the standard and miniature sizes are recognised almost universally, the rabbit size is not recognised by clubs in the United States and the United Kingdom. The rabbit size is recognised by the World Canine Federation, which contain kennel clubs from 83 countries all over the world. An increasingly common size for family pets falls between the miniature and the standard size, frequently referred to as "tweenies," not an official classification.
A full-grown standard dachshund averages 16 lb (7.3 kg) to 32 lb (15 kg), while the miniature variety normally weighs less than 12 lb (5.4 kg). The kaninchen weighs 8 lb (3.6 kg) to 11 lb (5.0 kg). According to kennel club standards, the miniature (and kaninchen, where recognised) differs from the full-size only by size and weight, thus offspring from miniature parents must never weigh more than the miniature standard to be considered a miniature as well. While many kennel club size divisions use weight for classification, such as the American Kennel Club, other kennel club standards determine the difference between the miniature and standard by chest circumference; some kennel clubs, such as in Germany, even measure chest circumference in addition to height and weight.
Light-coloured dachshunds can sport amber, light brown, or green eyes; however, kennel club standards state that the darker the eye colour, the better. Dapple and double dapple dachshunds can have multi coloured “wall” eyes with fully blue, partially blue or patched irises due to the effect of the dapple gene on eye pigmentation expression. “Wall” eye is permissible according to DCA standards but undesirable by AKC standards. Piebald-patterned dachshunds will never have blue in their eyes, unless the dapple pattern is present.
Dachshunds are playful, but as hunting dogs can be quite stubborn, and are known for their propensity for chasing small animals, birds, and tennis balls with great determination and ferocity. Many dachshunds are stubborn, making them a challenge to train.
“Being the owner of dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humour. Every sentence is a riot. Someday, if I ever get a chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the dachshund and why he can't be trained and shouldn't be. I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do.”
— E.B. White
Dachshunds can be aggressive to strangers and other dogs. Despite this, they are rated in the intelligence of dogs as an average working dog with a persistent ability to follow trained commands 50% of the time or more. They rank 49th in Stanley Coren's Intelligence of dogs, being of average working and obedience intelligence. They can have a loud bark. Some bark quite a lot and may need training to stop, while others will not bark much at all. Dachshunds are known for their devotion and loyalty to their owners, though they can be standoffish towards strangers. If left alone too frequently, some dachshunds are prone to separation anxiety and may chew objects in the house to relieve stress.
Dachshunds are burrowers by nature and are likely to burrow in blankets and other items around the house, when bored or tired. Dachshunds can be difficult to housebreak, and patience and consistency are often needed in this endeavour.