Beyond wiener dog

February 13, 2018

No doubt about it: the Dachshund is probably the world’s most recognizable breed. From toddlers to octogenarians, everyone knows the funny little fellow with the sausage body, stubby legs, and waving tail, and the wiener dog has been used to sell everything from Slinky children’s toys to foot-long frankfurters. Images of Dachsies abound in cartoons, caricatures, and commercials.

As with any celebrity, however, the public pooch persona isn’t the whole story. Behind the dark sunglasses, behind the paw raised to block the paparazzi lenses, behind the tinted windows of the limousine, the Dachshund’s true nature is revealed. A hot dog he may be, indeed, standing tall at 7th place in American Kennel Club (AKC) popularity, but he’s no weenie.

This is one fearless performer who insists on doing his own stunts, whether going underground in small, dark spaces, chasing small game through thick brush, or climbing onto the table to steal food. According to both the British and US breed standards, he is “courageous to the point of rashness.” This characteristic can be traced back several hundred years to the Dachshund’s roots as a hunting dog developed by German foresters to track game and, more importantly, to locate and hold at bay animals that went “to ground” -those that sought safety in their burrows. It takes a fierce and determined dog to dive into a narrow, dark hole, find the prey by scent and sound, and then face down a badger or fox on his own territory.

As the huntsmen of the 18th century discovered the value of these low-slung yet energetic hounds, they began to breed coat varieties to suit different uses: the Dachshund was crossed with spaniels to produce the Longhaired Dachshund and with the Dandie Dinmont Terrier to create the Wirehaired. Small-sized Dachsies were probably always used to hunt rabbits and other smaller game and eventually became established as Miniatures of all three coat types.

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