“Hot Dog” is Really a Hound
Due to its long, narrow shape, the dachshund has gotten a few monikers over time: “hot dog,” “wiener dog” and “sausage dog.”
The German dog breed’s name actually means “badger dog” after its ability to hunt badgers and other small critters in the field. Believe it or not, this short-legged, small-sized pooch is a member of the hound family.
In 2006, the American University in Cairo discovered the mummified remains of dachshund–like dogs in ancient Egyptian burial urns. The discovery lends credibility to the long-standing theory that the dachshund has early roots dating back to ancient Egypt, based on artistic engravings of similar-looking dogs.
The modern dachshund owes its existence to German breeders, who continued to breed the line with a combination of German, French and English hounds and terriers, such as the basset hound, the bloodhound and the pinscher.
The dachshund was bred specifically to hunt badgers and, with its long snout, trail its scent and that of burrow-dwelling animals such as prairie dogs and rabbits.
For some time, the original German-bred dachshunds were considerably larger, weighing between 30 and 40 pounds and had longer, straighter legs. Today’s dachshund has been bred from a smaller, crooked-leg line.
The appearance of the dachshund has changed over the years. While the ancient drawings in Egypt depict a short-legged dachshund-like dog, the modern-day dachshund, believed to have been bred during the 18th century, had longer legs and was a larger dog.
Today’s dachshund can also have a variety of appearances: standard, miniature and “kaninchen,” which means “little rabbit” in German. Each version can have one of three types of coats: short-haired, long-haired or wirehaired. Each version has the flap-down ears, the long snout and curved tail.
The “standard” sized dachshund, which is long-bodied and muscular, with short, stubby legs, weighs between 15 and 28 pounds. The “miniature” version weighs less than 11 pounds, while the “little rabbit” weighs less than eight pounds.
Dachshunds can also have one of a variety of coat colors, including red (rust), black, chocolate or tan, or a combination of those colors such as black and tan, silver and brown, chocolate and tan, or fawn and tan. The breed’s coat can also be sable—when each strand of hair has three colors: light at the base, red in the middle and black at the end; brindled—dark stripes over a solid color; or “piebald,” which is a spotted pattern of large nonpigmented, usually white, areas of hair.
The breed’s eye color can also vary. Light-colored dachshunds usually have green, light brown or amber eyes, or eye of two different colors such as one blue and one brown eye. Blue eyes are possible but have been labeled “undesirable” by kennel associations. A blue-eyed dachshund is sometimes misidentified as a “double-dapple.”
The “double-dapple” dachshund is the result of both the mother and father giving a pup a dapple gene—a coat pattern that is splotchy and multi-colored. When two dapple genes overlap, the result is a solid white coat. This dappling effect can increase the potential of birth defects such as blindness, deafness or both; however, a double-dapple puppy can be born without any birth defects at all.
Take your dachshund to the dog park and you’ll probably notice it spending the majority of play time chasing after small animals, such as birds, with the determination and seriousness of a trained athlete.
The breed is known to be quite stubborn, making it difficult to train and discipline. Dachshunds can also bark a lot, although this doesn’t necessarily apply to every dachshund.
While the breed can be temperamental, it is also extremely devoted and loyal to its family, often behaving indifferently or anti-socially toward strangers. Dachshunds do not like to be left alone and, if done so for long periods of time, will be very vocal about their anxiety.
The dachshund is also very energetic, and can be very aggressive, headstrong and “snappy” if not trained for obedience. As a result, the dachshund may not be the best choice for families with small children unless otherwise well-trained. A 2008 study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania revealed that out of 6,000 dogs, dachshunds were rated the most aggressive, with a 20% history of biting their owners, strangers and other dogs.
While these medical conditions are generally uncommon, they are known to occur in the breed. Your dachshund will not necessarily develop any of the conditions listed below. Choosing a reputable breeder from which to purchase your pet will help minimize the risks.
Cataracts are an opacity of the lens of the eye and may cause blindness if not treated surgically. Symptoms include discoloring of the opacity of the lens and blindness. Surgery to remove the opaque lens of the eye is recommended.
Cushing’s syndrome is a hormonal disorder that affects dogs and cats, although the condition is more prevalent in dogs. It is caused by an overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands. Symptoms include increased thirst, appetite and urination, a “pot belly” appearance, alopecia and recurrent skin infections. Treatment of this condition must be closely monitored by your veterinarian.
Cherry eye: Unlike people, dogs have a “third eyelid” that is located behind the lower lid in the corner of the eye next to the nose. The third eyelid contains a small gland on the surface of the lid next to the eyeball. Under normal circumstances, this gland is not visible and aids in the production of tears. When the gland of the third eyelid enlarges and prolapses, or comes out of its normal position, it swells and creates a condition known as cherry eye. The condition is usually treated surgically by suturing the gland back into its normal position.
Glaucoma is an increase in the pressure of the fluid in the eye which, if left untreated, can cause visual impairment and eventual loss of sight. The condition can be inherited (primary glaucoma) or a secondary condition to a variety of other eye issues including tumors or lens luxation.
Hereditary epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. The symptoms vary in severity but the dog usually foams at the mouth and appears to be chewing on something. Progressive symptoms lead to violent muscle contractions, loss of bladder or bowel control and fainting.
Hypothyroidism is a decrease in production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid glands. Lack of this hormone causes weight gain, lethargy, poor hair coat, infertility and susceptibility to chronic infections. Thyroid hormone levels should be tested if your dog appears to have any of the symptoms listed.
Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) is a fairly common condition of dachshunds. IVDD occurs due to premature degeneration (aging) of the intervertebral discs of the back in this breed. An extremely long spinal column, short rib cage and obesity make your pet more susceptible to IVDD. Limited activity and surgery is often necessary to treat this condition.
Patellar luxation occurs when the dog’s kneecap becomes dislodged. This is caused by anatomical defects of the bones that make up the knee joint. It is manifested by the kneecap (patella) slipping in and out of its normal location in the knee. Mildly affected dogs may carry the leg for 2 or 3 steps while walking. Severely affected dogs develop arthritis of the knee and may become severely lame, refusing to use their rear legs. Surgical correction of this condition is very rewarding.
Patent ductus arteriosus is a congenital heart defect. Dachshunds are 2.5 times more likely to develop this condition. Surgical treatment is necessary to correct this very serious condition.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is an adult-onset condition which typically occurs between ages 4 and 10. Symptoms include night blindness leading to total blindness between the ages of three and five.
As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.
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