When I first got a Dachshund, I knew nothing about them.
Today, some people would call me a “fanatic”.
Between doing research for my blog, and via my friends in the Dachshund club that I run, I have probably learned most of what there is to know about wiener dogs.
I thought I’d share a few fun facts and things that surprise most people when I tell them.
1) Dachshunds Are Hunting Dogs
When most people think of hunting dogs, big dogs like Labrador Retrievers, Shorthaired Pointers, and Coonhounds come to mind. There are several smaller dogs that were bred for hunting too though.
According to Wikipedia, “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 United States, they have also been used to track wounded deer and hunt prairie dogs.”
The name “Dachshund” literally means “badger dog,” from Dachs (“badger”) and Hund (“hound, dog”) in Germany, where they originated. If you want to be proper, the name should be pronounced with a German accent – DAKS-huunt (or hoont).
Because they were bred for hunting, they have a very strong prey drive. Fast moving, and furry, objects will almost always get their attention and don’t be surprised if they make a scene.
2) There Are Over 500 Dachshund “Flavors”
In the US, Dachshunds come in 2 official sizes – miniature Dachshunds and standard Dachshunds.
Miniatures are defined a dog that is 11 lbs or under at 1 year of age. Standard Dachshunds are 16 lbs and over (the max usually being around 40 lbs.)
There are Dachshunds that don’t fall neatly into those size categories though.
For example, of course, there are Dachshunds that weigh between 12 and 15 lbs. Some breed registries consider anything 12 lbs and over to be a standard. The average Dachshund owner usually refers dogs in this middle range as “tweenies”.
Anything 11 lbs and under is a miniature so don’t be fooled buy people claiming they raise “toy” or “teacup” Dachshunds. There is no such thing.
There are 3 coat types: smooth (short haired), long haired, and wire haired.
There are approximately 15 different color combinations: black & cream, black & tan, blue & cream, blue & tan, chocolate & cream, chocolate & tan, cream, fawn (also called Isabella) & cream, fawn & tan, red, wheaten, wild boar, black, chocolate, and fawn.
There are at least 6 marking combinations: brindle, dapple, sable, brindle piebald, dapple piebald, and piebald.
Doing the math reveals that there are 540 color/coat/pattern possibilities.
Of course, genetics control what is possible so there might be less than that in reality. Still, it’s crazy how many different Dachshund “flavors” there are.
3) The Dachshund Has Over 10 Different Names
The official, breed specific, names for these long and narrow dogs are Dachshund (Us and Germany), Teckel (Germany) and Dackel (Germany).
Here in the US, there are over 15 different names people call Dachshunds derived from shortening the name, misspellings of the name, and “cute” name references.
These include wIEner dog, wEIner dog, sausage dog, weenie, Doxie, weens, and many more Dachshund nicknames.
4) Dachshunds Are Athletes, Not Lapdogs
People often assume that small dogs don’t need much exercise. Or, in fact, they aren’t capable of much exercise.
When it comes to Dachshunds, that would be an incorrect assumption.
A dog’s athleticism is a product of both nature and nurture.
As I said above, Dachshund are hunting dogs. They were bred to have energy and stamina. They are capable of more exercise than people think they are.
However, if you life a sedentary life and don’t take them out much, they probably won’t be fit and may get used to lazing around.
If you are active though, and slowly increase activity to build their fitness (just like people should), they will probably shock you with what they can do (like how far a Dachshund can hike).
Both of the Dachshunds I’ve owned were great hikers and could go at least 10 miles on steep, rough terrain before even staring to get tired.
Many people compete in agility with their Dachshunds, and although certainly not typical of Dachshunds, TruMan the Doxie ran a whole marathon (over 26 miles!) with his ultrarunner Mom.
5) The First Olympic Mascot Was a Dachshund
The first official mascot in the history of the Olympic Summer Games – the 1972 Munich Olympic Games – was Waldi the Dachshund (Olympic.org)
The course of the marathon was designed to incorporate the Waldi design, and during the construction phase of the 1972 Olympic stadium and village, Waldi was used in unofficial satirical posters. (source)
6) Dachshunds Live a Long Time
You may be surprised that Dachshunds have a long life expectancy.
Dachshunds live to be 15-16 years old on average. However, not all make it that long and some live longer.
Based on my observations, and experience through my Dachshund club members, it seems that there are 3 main “age” categories for Dachshunds – those that only make it to 11 or 12, those that live to be 15 or 16, and those that live to be 18 or older.
There is some debate about the oldest age of a Dachshund, but the oldest Dachshund in the world might be Rocky, who lived to be at least 25.
7) Dachshunds Are Prone to Back Issues
The Dachshund breed is prone to a hereditary disease called Intervertebral Disk Disease, or IVDD, which can cause disks in a dog’s neck or back to rupture.
Less frequently, a Dachshund can have back problems from acute injury, like being hit by a car, or degeneration from old age.
One in four (1:4) Dachshunds will have back issues between the ages of 4 and 7 because they have IVDD.
If a Dachshund’s spinal disks crack or bulge, the result can be anything ranging from severe pain to paralysis.
Treatment can range from medication and 6-10 weeks of strict crate rest to surgery followed by crate rest.
Unfortunately, owning a Dachshund is kind of like roulette in regard to back issues. No reliable test exists to check for the genes that cause it.
The best thing you can do is learn as much as you can about the signs and symptoms of IVDD-related back pain in Dachshunds so you can catch it early if it happens to your dog. Fast and early treatment for IVVD is crucial.
If you have your eye on a particular Dachshund puppy from a breeder, be sure to ask about the parents – how many generations back does the breeder know about and were there any incidences of back issues (hint: there shouldn’t be).
Looking back at family history is no grantee your dog will be free from IVDD, or back issues, but it can help give you a good idea of how likely it is to happen.
8) Dachshunds Have a Big Dog Bark
Like people, dogs can have different “voices”. However, most Dachshunds have a bigger bark than you would expect to come from a small dog.
I can attest that at least one pizza delivery person thought there was Rottweiler inside my house when they knocked on our door.
Since they also like to hear themselves bark, this can cause problems in apartments, condos, and other close living quarters.
In fact, trying to teach a Dachshund to stop barking is one of an owners “favorite pastimes”.
9) Dachshunds Will Steal Your Heart
Most Dachshund owners will claim that they are like potato chips – you can’t have just one – and many people who claim to not like Dachshunds change their mind after spending some quality time with one.
Their spunky little spirits, clownish antics, and silly looks will definitely steal your heart.
They are also very loyal dogs and often follow you around the house (including into the bathroom) to keep an eye on you.
Many people have two at the same time and the “once a dachshund owner, always a dachshund owner” mentality leads people to get several over their lifetime.
10) The Hot Dog Was Named After the Dachshund
Well, this one might not be a 100% proven fact but it’s a fun thought.
Some historians believe hot dogs were first known as Dachshund sausages, after the long round dogs, which were favorite companions of German butchers.
Some suggest that the name was changed to “Wiener” dog after one cartoonist had trouble spelling “Dachshund” and shortened it.
Unfortunately, no one has been able to find this comic so the truthfulness of this theory is seriously doubted.
If you own a Dachshund, or are thinking of getting one, I hope you learned something you didn’t know about them. Do you have any other fun facts to share?