Dachshund

Nicknamed the "wiener dog," this smallest of the hounds is short on leg but long on personality.

Dachshund Breed Photo

Dachshunds are scent hound dog breeds who were bred to hunt badgers and other tunneling animals, rabbits, and foxes. Packs of Dachshunds were even used to trail wild boar. Today their versatility makes them excellent family companions, show dogs, and small-game hunters.

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Breed Characteristics

    • Almost always

      Adapt Well To Apartment Living

      Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
    • Usually

      Good For Novice Owners

      Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
    • High

      Sensitivity Level

      Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
    • Not particularly well

      Tolerates Being Alone

      Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
    • Poorly

      Tolerates Cold Weather

      Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
    • Not so well

      Tolerates Hot Weather

      Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
    • Somewhat

      Easy To Train

      Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
    • Medium

      Intelligence

      Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
    • Medium

      Potential For Mouthiness

      Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.
    • Moderate

      Prey Drive

      Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
    • Very high

      Tendency To Bark Or Howl

      Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?
    • Moderate

      Wanderlust Potential

      Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.
    • Moderate

      Amount Of Shedding

      If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.
    • Very low

      Drooling Potential

      Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.
    • Somewhat

      Easy To Groom

      Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
    • Fair

      General Health

      Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
    • Very high

      Potential For Weight Gain

      Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
    • Medium

      Size

      Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.
    • Very

      Affectionate With Family

      Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
    • Sometimes

      Dog Friendly

      Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
    • Not usually

      Friendly Toward Strangers

      Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.
    • Not usually

      Kid Friendly

      Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
    • Moderate

      Energy Level

      High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
    • Moderate

      Exercise Needs

      Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
    • Low

      Intensity

      A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
    • Moderate

      Potential For Playfulness

      Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

Vital Stats

  • Dog Breed Group: Hounds
  • Height: Generally 8 inches to 9 inches tall at the shoulder
  • Weight: Generally 16 to 32 pounds
  • Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Don't let the Dachshund fool you. He might be, as legendary literary critic and humorous journalist H. L. Mencken said, "half a dog high and a dog and a half long," but this small, drop-eared dog is tough enough to take on a badger. In fact, that's what he was bred to do and how he got his name (Dachs meaning badger; hund meaning dog).

Dachshunds (pronounced DAKS hund  — never dash-hound) come in three varieties: smooth (shorthaired), wirehaired and longhaired. In the United States, Dachshunds are either miniature (11 pounds and under as an adult) or standard (usually between 16 and 32 pounds as an adult). If your Dachshund weighs between 11 and 16 pounds, he's called a tweenie. Other countries have a wider variance in the sizes. For example, in Germany, the official birthplace of the Dachshund breed, Dachshunds are identified as Standard, Miniature, or Kaninchenteckel, based on a chest measurement taken at the age of fifteen months.

No matter what their size, Dachshunds are a delightful addition to any family, which is why they have ranked near the top of most popular dogs lists since the 1950s. Their cute appearance and lively disposition have inspired many affectionate nicknames for the breed, including wiener dog, hot dog, sausage dog, Doxie, Dashie, and (especially in Germany) Teckels, Dachels, or Dachsels

You can't help but smile when you look at a confident Dachshund, proudly carrying his long, muscular body on short legs, his elongated head held high with a bold, intelligent look in his eyes. Because of their almost comical appearance, Dachshunds have long been a favorite subject of cartoonists and toy makers. But their cute appearance was developed for far more serious and practical reasons. Their short legs enable them to dig and maneuver through tunnels to corner and even fight badgers and other animals, while their large chests give them plenty of "heart" for the fight. Dachshunds are brave, but they can be somewhat stubborn, and have an independent spirit, especially when hunting.

At home, the Dachshund's playful nature comes out. He loves to be close to you and "help" you do things like tie your shoes. Because of his intelligence, he often has his own ideas about what the rules are when it comes to playtime-and those rules may not be the same as yours or even other breeds of dogs. Dachshunds are known for being lively and enjoy chasing other small animals, birds, and toys. The breed standard — a written description of how the Dachshund should look and act — probably describes their personality best, saying "the Dachshund is clever, lively, and courageous to the point of rashness, persevering in above and below ground work, with all the senses well-developed. Any display of shyness is a serious fault."

Dachshunds have soulful eyes and complex facial expressions. Their lungs are large for a dog this size and they have a barrel-like chest. Because of these things, Dachshunds have a loud, deep bark that sounds as though it comes from a much larger dog. And they do like to bark, which is something you might consider if you have neighbors who could be annoyed rather than amused by the antics of your brave little Dachshund.

Dachshunds often bond closely with a single person. They may even become jealous of their owner's attention and can, if not properly trained and socialized, become snappy.

Smooth Dachshunds are the most popular variety in the United States. Their coats are short and shiny and need little grooming. They do, however, need a sweater in the winter if you live in an area with cold weather. Common colors are red, cream, black and tan, black and cream, chocolate and tan, blue and tan, and Isabella (fawn) and tan. Dachshunds also can have patterns in their coats, such as dapple (a mottled coat pattern), brindle, sable, and piebald.

Longhaired Dachshunds have sleek, slightly wavy hair and can be the same colors as the Smooth Dachshund. They should be brushed every day to prevent mats from forming, especially around their elbows and ears. Many believe that the Longhaired Dachshund has a more docile temperament than the Smooth or Wirehair.

Wirehaired Dachshunds have wiry, short, thick, rough coats with bushy eyebrows and a beard. Like Smooth Dachshunds, they often are mischievous. They won't need a sweater in the winter, but they do need to be brushed regularly to prevent mats from forming. Their coat colors can be the same as the Smooth Dachshund, but the most popular colors in the United States are wild boar (a mixture of black, brown, and gray), black and tan, and various shades of red.

Dachshunds often have been seen as a symbol of Germany. Because of this association, Dachshunds lost popularity in the United States during World War I and World War II. Their appeal was too great for this to resist, however, and they quickly made a comeback in popularity. Because of the association with Germany, a Dachshund named Waldi was chosen to be the first official mascot for the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Dachshunds are a good choice for apartment dwellers and people who don't have a backyard. They are popular with urban dwellers because of their small size and ease of care. They generally are active indoors and also enjoy going on walks. Just be careful not to let them get too fat or allow them to injure their backs by jumping off furniture. Also, be sure to support their backs when you are holding them. Because of their long backs, they are susceptible to slipped or ruptured (herniated) disks in their backs, which can result in partial or full paralysis.

Although they originally were bred to hunt ferocious badgers and other animals, today's Dachshunds are ideal family companions. Additionally, many people show them in conformation, obedience, agility, field trials, and earthdog trials. They are also hard-working and well-appreciated therapy dogs. Some people enter their Dachshunds in Dachshund races, such as the Wiener Nationals. Although these races are popular, the Dachshund Club of America opposes "wiener racing" because many Greyhound tracks use the events to draw large crowds and because the DCA worries that such races could injure Dachshunds' backs.

Because they are such a popular breed, many people breed Dachshunds to make money rather than out of a love for the breed and a desire to breed healthy, even-tempered dogs. Be careful to obtain your Dachshund from a reputable breeder who screens his or her breeding animals for both temperament and health problems.

The Dachshund is a versatile companion. With his variety of sizes, colors, coat types, and personalities, there's a Dachshund to suit almost anyone.