Mystery breed

Every now and then we select a breed of dog or cat, and reveal some quirky facts. questionmarkCome back periodically and see if it's yours. This time it's the...


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The name "dachshund" is of German origin and literally means "badger dog" - they were originally bred for hunting badgers by trailing scent. The nickname "sausage dog" needs no explanation. Some believe the roots of the dachshund go back to ancient Egypt, where engravings were made featuring short-legged hunting dogs. Today's breed is a German design blending German, French, and English hounds and terriers. Dachshunds have been kept by royal courts all over Europe, including that of Queen Victoria who was a real fan. They come in three sizes: standard, miniature, and kaninchen (German for "rabbit"). There are also three types of dachshund, classified by their coats: short-haired, called 'smooth'; long-haired; and wire-haired.


Political sausage - John F. Kennedy bought a dachshund puppy while touring Europe in 1937 for his then girlfriend Olivia. The puppy, named Dunker, never left Germany after Kennedy started to get terrible allergies

Artistic sausage - Andy Warhol had a pair of dachshunds, Archie and Amos, whom he depicted in his paintings and mentioned frequently in his diaries

Diva sausage - Adele has a Dachshund named Louie, named after Louis Armstrong

Whitehouse sausage - Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President, had a dachshund in the White House

Characteristics and behaviours

Like many small hunting dogs, dachshunds will challenge a larger dog; they are statistically more aggressive to both strangers and other dogs. Dachshunds are playful, but as hunting dogs can be quite stubborn and hard to train. Despite this, they are rated in the intelligence of dogs as an average working dog with a persistent ability to follow trained commands 50% of the time or more. They are known for chasing small animals, birds, and tennis balls with determination and ferocity. Dachshunds are burrowers by nature and are likely to burrow in blankets and other items around the house, when bored or tired. A bored, untrained dachshund can be destructive so they require a caring, loving owner who respects their need for entertainment and exercise. This dog's behavior is such that it is not the dog for everyone...but I for one think they have the most gorgeous eyes.

Health concerns

The breed can suffer spinal problems, especially intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), due in part to an extremely long spinal column and short rib cage. The risk of injury is worsened by obesity, jumping, rough handling, or intense exercise, which place greater strain on the vertebrae. About 20–25% of Dachshunds will develop IVDD. Treatment ranges from crate confinement, to anti-inflammatories, and surgery in some cases, with paralysis sometimes an outcome. Other health issues include hereditary epilepsy, dental issues, Cushing's syndrome, thyroid problems, various allergies and eye conditions


The flap-down ears and famous curved tail of the dachshund have been bred into the dog. The former to keep grass seeds, dirt, and other matter from entering the ear canal. The curved tail helps the dog be seen more easily in long grass, and allows a burrowing dog to help haul itself out of a spot if stuck in a burrow. Dachshunds have traditionally been viewed as a symbol of Germany. Political cartoonists used the image of the dachshund to ridicule Germany and during WW1 the dachshunds' popularity in the US plummeted due to this association. Partly as a result (as well as its popularity among dog keepers in Munich) the dachshund was chosen to be the first official mascot for the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. The mascot's name, Waldi.

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