Everything you need to know about Dachshunds
Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Louisa Lane
7th Sep 2022
9 mins read
Quirky in personality and looks, Dachshunds or “sausage dogs” have become popular pets for their unique appearance and big personality.
25-37cm (Mini) 35-47cm (Standard)
5 to 15kg
Small or Medium
Short and smooth, or long, or wiry
30 minutes daily (miniature) - 1 hour daily (Standard)
Daily to weekly
Curious, spirited, bold
Despite becoming more popular in recent years. Dachshunds are actually a very old breed of dog. They originated in Germany at least 600 years ago!
Their name means “badger dog” and they were bred to have short legs and long backs so they could fit inside burrows and go underground to hunt badgers and other animals.
Being alone underground and having to face off with badgers meant this dog had to have a pretty bold personality. Doing such dirty work is also why these little dogs have such big feet, so they had a pair of built-in shovels. (And a love for digging!)
It’s allegedly where they get their big bark from too, so the hunters could hear the dog from the surface and be able to keep track of where their dog had gone underground.
Dachshund vs Miniature Dachshund
Unlike “teacup” pups, Miniature Dachshunds aren’t bred smaller for aesthetic reasons. They were actually bred smaller so they could fit into narrower burrows and hunt smaller prey, like rabbits.
In Germany, they actually have a size of Dachshund even smaller than a Miniature Dachshund that is called a “Rabbit Dachshund”.
Dachshunds are some of the most unique looking dogs on the planet, thanks to their long backs and short legs. Dachshunds' are a “chondrodystrophic” breed, meaning they have very short legs compared to their body.
Their front paws are also slightly larger than their back paws, so they could use them to dig.
Dachshunds also have a very deep chest, almost as deep as their legs are long. This deep chest gave them an increased lung capacity for when they were working underground.
As well as their sausage shape, Dachshunds have floppy, triangular ears, a sharp snout. They also tend to have defined eyebrows, giving them rather human expressions!
Although all Dachshunds are long backed and short legged, they can look very different to one another. As well as having two distinct sizes, Miniature and Standard, they can have 3 different coat types. Some have a short, smooth coat, others have a soft, long and wavy coat, and others have long, wiry fur.
Although Dachshunds can have three different types of coats, the Smooth coat and Long Haired Dachshunds come in the same colours.
The breed standard colours for Smooth and Long Haired Dachshunds are:
- Black & tan
- Chocolate & tan
- Chocolate dapple & tan
- Silver dapple & tan
- Shaded red
Although Wire Haired Dachshunds share several of the same colours, they also come in different shades to their Smooth and Long Haired cousins. Wire Haired Dachshund colours include:
- Black & tan
- Chocolate & tan
- Chocolate dapple & tan
- Silver dapple & tan
- Shaded red
- Wild boar
As well as those breed-standard colours, Dachshunds can come in a huge variety of other colours and patterns outside of the breed standard. We won’t list them here though, as there are far too many! (There are over 71 non-breed standard colours of Smooth Coated Dachshund alone!)
The dangers of “double dapple” dogs and dilute colours
Dachshunds can carry a “dapple” gene, which can create white markings in their coat.
In the past, unscrupulous breeders have bred Dachshunds together that both carry the dapple gene. The aim of this was to create an all-white dog, but breeding for looks and specific colours means that the puppies are more likely to inherit other genes too.
Sadly, when both parents have the dapple gene, their puppies are more likely to inherit conditions that cause vision loss or hearing loss.
Some other colours of Dachshund known as “dilute colours” are caused by breeding two dogs that share a dilute colour gene. Again, breeding dogs with specific genes to get a particular look is discouraged, as the puppies are prone to inheriting certain health conditions.
“Blue” and “Isabella” (Sometimes known as “Lilac”) colour Dachshunds are no longer recognised by the breed standard because they are prone to health problems.
Typically, a Dachshund temperament is that of a loving and loyal dog. They’re very inquisitive and playful pups, but they often have a strong prey drive which makes chasing balls (or small animals) irresistible to them.
As they were bred to be working dogs, Dachshunds are typically eager to please and trainable. However, they do have an independent streak since they were expected to work alone underground, and are known to be a bit stubborn.
Having been bred to hunt, these dogs developed a brave personality, and are quite alert and vocal. These pups have big barks, and they have a lot to say!
How much exercise does a Dachshund need?
The amount of exercise that your Dachshund needs will depend on their size.
Miniature Dachshunds don’t need as much exercise as the larger Standard Dachshunds. If you own a miniature Dachshund, you should aim to give them 30 minutes to an hour of exercise every day.
If you own a Standard Dachshund, you should give them at least an hour of exercise every day.
Remember, the hour of exercise doesn’t have to be just walks. You can mix up their exercise with daily walks, training sessions, play sessions, and classes like agility or obedience. For more ideas on how to exercise your dog,check out this guide
How to groom a Dachshund
The grooming needs of your Dachshund will depend on what kind of coat they have.
How to groom a Smooth Haired Dachshund
Smooth Haired Dachshunds don’t need much grooming. You can get away with giving them a brush once a week, or even less frequently, to help remove dirt and dead fur from their coat. You also can spot clean them if they’re dirty, and only need to bathe them if they’re visibly messy or smelly.
How to groom a Long Haired Dachshund
Long Haired Dachshunds require more upkeep, and you’ll have to brush their long fur a few times a week to get rid of any tangles or mats. You might need to take them to the groomer for an occasional trim to keep their long fur tidy and prevent it from trailing on the ground. Again, just bathe them when they need it.
How to groom a Wire Haired Dachshund
Wire Haired Dachshunds have moderate grooming requirements. You’ll only need to bathe them when they need it. You should brush them a few times a week to keep their fur clean and to help remove any dead fur. You’ll also need to take them to the groomer twice a year to be “stripped”, which is where their coarse undercoat is removed. However Wire Haired Dachshunds don’t tend to shed as much, and brushing and stripping helps to remove any dead fur.
No matter what type of fur your Dachshund has, you’ll need to trim their claws at least once a month to prevent them from overgrowing. You should also check their eyes and ears monthly to make sure they’re clean and healthy. Finally, you should brush your dog’s teeth regularly to help preventdental disease
. You can find outhow to keep your pup’s teeth clean
Common Dachshund health problems
Due to their short legs, Dachshunds have an increased risk of Intervertebral disease (IVDD), a condition that leads to deterioration of the intervertebral disks (the shock absorbers of the spine). IVDD can lead to pain and severe (and sometimes permanent ) neurological issues, often requiring expensive emergency surgery to treat. Something as simple as chasing a ball or jumping off a step can even cause a disk to ‘slip’ in dogs with IVDD disease.
Almost 1/4 Dachshunds will show signs of IVDD. Some dogs can be treated with anti-inflammatories and crate rest, but others require surgery to treat issues with their spinal cord. Many Dachshunds with IVDD also require physical therapy, which Napo insurance can cover as a complementary treatment.
Because they have small jaws with tightly-packed teeth, Dachshunds are prone todental disease
. You should brush your dog’s teeth regularly and make sure they have a yearly dental check up (just like you have!) to keep their teeth in top shape.
All dogs can be affected by obesity, but Dachshunds are prone to becoming overweight. It puts extra strain on their short legs and fragile backs. It can aggravate arthritis, and sometimes their little legs can’t even lift their bellies off the floor. Make sure your Dachshund eats a healthy diet and gets plenty of exercise to prevent them becoming overweight.
Dachshunds, especially Miniatures Dachshunds, are prone to progressive retinal atrophy, which can cause vision loss. A good breeder should health test their dogs before breeding them, so puppies are less likely to inherit the condition. Dachshunds can also be affected by dry eye, which is a common condition in all dogs.
This is a condition where a dog’s knee cap doesn’t sit in the joint correctly. It's common in many small dog breeds, but Dachshunds are prone to the issue because of their short legs. Luckily, keeping your pup fit and lean will help.
Napo's got your back when it comes to making sure you have long term cover for your long dog, with lifetime cover up to £16,000 annual vet fee cover.
Frequently asked questions about Dachshunds
Are Dachshunds easy to train?
Dachshunds aren’t the easiest dog to train. They are intelligent dogs and can be eager to learn, so they can pick up cues and tricks quickly.
However, they do have a stubborn streak and an independent mind, so sometimes training can be tricky.
But they are smart little working dogs, so with patience and consistency, you should be able to teach your pup everything you need.
What’s a Dachshund's life expectancy?
A Dachshund's average life expectancy is around 12 years old, which is about average for all dogs. However, individual Dachshunds have been known to live much longer than that, sometimes reaching the late teens.
When are Dachshunds fully grown?
Miniature Dachshunds are fully grown sooner than Standard Dachshunds. A Miniature Dachshund usually reaches their adult size by the time they’re 1 year old, however a Standard Dachshund isn’t fully grown until they’re around 18 months old.
Do Dachshunds bark a lot?
Although every dog is an individual, and some Dachshunds might be quite quiet, this breed is known for being vocal. Dachshunds are alert and will bark at anything unusual, and because of their large lungs they have a surprisingly big bark.
If you are having problems with a highly vocal dog, be sure to contact your vet. (You can call a vet anytime using FirstVet as part of your Napo policy.) They can refer you to a behaviourist who will be able to help you manage excessive barking, or any other behavioural problem your pup may have. (And remember, Napo pet insurance offers fee cover towards behaviourists!)
Are Dachshunds hypoallergenic?
No, Dachshunds are not considered hypoallergenic as all varieties shed some hair and dander. Although these dogs are unlikely to drool. Wire Haired and Long Haired Dachshunds don’t shed a lot, so they can sometimes be suitable for allergy sufferers.
It’s also important to remember that there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. All dogs shed some dander, fur, or drool which can cause allergic reactions. However, allergies are individual and you might find one breed doesn’t cause a reaction compared to another.
Did you know Napo only exists because of a Dachshund?
You canread more about
our founder's very own Dachshund and how Napo came to be because of one little dog.