“Dachshund” is a German word meaning “badger dog,” and the breed’s German history goes back some
600 years. andFor a dog of any size, a badger is a formidable adversary, weighing anywhere from 25 to 40
pounds,with razor-sharp teeth and claws. The cleverness, courage, perseverance, and strength that are
hallmarks oftoday’s Dachshund were first bred into his long-ago ancestors to best equip them for battling a
deadly foe. The little dog’s surprisingly loud, houndy bark is also a throwback to his working roots: It allowed
the Dachshund’s above-ground human hunting partner to mark his hound’s underground location.
In addition to the breed’s short, smooth coat, selective breeding produced types with wire coats for work in thorny
brier patches, and long coats for cold climates. Dachshunds of various sizes were bred to work on different kinds
of quarry. Packs of Dachshunds, according to breed authorities, were often used on wild boar. By the late 1800s,
the process of standardizing the breed according to size, coat, and color varieties was well underway.
The Dachshund has long been a national symbol of Germany, so closely associated with the fatherland that during
World War I American fanciers took to calling them Liberty Hounds due to anti-German sentiment. Admitted to the
AKC Stud Book in 1885, their popularity in America was immediate and enduring.
The Dachshund was bred as a hunting dog and is known to have existed before the 16th century. In Europe
during both World Wars, it was recognized as the national dog of the Teutonic Empire and, because of its
German ancestry, was mistreated and even stoned in the streets. Today, the Dachshund enjoys great popularity
and is known for its loyalty as a family pet.
The name Dachshund (dachs, badger; hund, dog) at once reveals and conceals the origin of the breed. In
medieval European books on hunting, dogs similar only in possessing the tracking ability of hounds and the
proportions and temperament of terriers, because they were used to follow badger to earth, were called
badger-dogs or dachs-hund. A parallel is suggested by the current use of the name rabbit dog in various parts of
this country for dogs of various breeding, used to hunt rabbits.
Illustrations dating from the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries show badgers hunted by dogs with
elongated bodies, short legs, and hound-type ears some with the bent front leg of a basset, some with the head of
terriers, and some with indications of smooth and long coats. It is well to consider that these illustrations were
made before the days of photography that artist capable of depicting dogs with anatomical fidelity have always
been rare, and that woodcuts do not lend themselves to fine reproductions of coat distintions. At best, the
pictures and descriptive words can be interpreted with certainty only as defining the functions of the dogs used on
The preponderance of available evidence indicates that smooth and longhaired coats were separated by selective
breeding, long prior to recorded registrations; whereas within such recorded history, the wirehaired coats was
produced for protection against briar and thorn by crossing in harsh, wiry terriers coats and then breeding out
incompatible characteristics of conformation. Early in the seventeenth century the name Dachshund became the
designation of a breed type with smooth and longhaired-coated varities, and since 1890 wirehairs have been
registered as the third variety.
The badger was a formidable twenty-five to forty-five-pounds adversary. Strength and stamina as well as
keenness and courage above and below ground were required of badger dogs. Weight of thirty to thirty-five
pounds was not uncommon. Such Dachshunds in packs also were serviceable against wild boar. With this start
the breed was adapted to hunt other game. A smaller sixteen to twenty-two pound Dachshund proved effective
against foxes and trail-wounded deer. Still smaller twelve pound Dachshunds were used for stoat and hare. In the
first quarter of the twentieth century, for bolting cottontail rabbits, miniatures with adult weights under five
pounds and chest girths under twelve inches, but with plenty of hunting spirit, were produced.
Before the German Dachshund or Deutscher Teckelklub was founded in 1888, racial characteristics, or a
standard for the breed had been set in 1879; and German registration of Dachshunds was included (not always
with complete generation data or systematic coat notations) in a general all-breed stud book, the Deutscher
Hunde-Stammbuch, whose first volume, in 1840, recorded fifty-four Dachshunds and the names of several
subsequently prominent breeders, and whose publication continued until officially terminated in 1935.
Importation of Dachshunds into this country antedates the earliest American dog shows or studbooks, and eleven
were included in AKC Stud Book, Volume 11 in 1885. American dogs have found little employment in organized
hunting, as we lack in the badger and wild boar and do not hunt deer with dogs, nor foxes with pick and shovel.
The true character and conformation of the breed have been encouraged by frequent importation of German
hunting strains; and to encourage hunting capacity and exemplary conformation and temperament, field trials
under AKC rules were instituted in 1935.
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