The Dachshund: a loving, courageous pet and a fine watchdog
By Judy Dutson: Copyright Rossglen 1972 and 2006. First published in Time and Tide.
Everybody knows the Dachshund, though not everyone knows how to pronounce his name (Daxhund, not Dashund). From the caricatures of this little dog, portraying him as a sausage form or other you get quite the wrong impression of his personality and liveliness. How many people realise that there are six different types of dachshund?
There are three miniature and three standards well as many colour combinations.
Sizes range from the tinies of 7 pounds through to the standard, weighing as much as 30 pounds, though for show the miniature is not allowed to weigh more than 11 pounds.
In coat texture there is the well known smooth coated dog, and the glamorous silky long haired variety. Least known is the charming wire-haired, with its whiskers and tufted eyebrows, a real sportsman and willing to help hunt anything. Colours can be the rare cream, or golden, red, shaded red, red brindle, chocolate and tan, black and tan; and in the smooth and wire-coated varieties, silver and golden dapples. So there is a Dachshund to suit the most discriminating person.
Before commencing a brief history of the breed, let me emphasise that this article is not intended as a show report, to list winning dogs or on how select a show dog. There are
many books and articles written to cover such points. The only advice I will give to all, whether seeking a pet or a show dog, is to contact registered breeders of Dachshunds, who will give you a great deal of help and advice. (A list can be obtained from the Kennel Club in London).
As with all breeds of dogs, the Dachshund claims to have been known in the times of the Pharaohs, and Egyptologists have actually seen its ancestors on the tombs of the 12th dynasty Pharaohs. So it is undoubtedly a very ancient breed.
There are pictures resembling the breed in English and Continental books of the 16th century. Queen Victoria is really responsible for the popularity of the Dachshund in Britain. Her first dogs were presents from Prince Albert and other royal persons.
A very touching excerpt from one of the Queen's letters refers to her beloved dog Dacko, on his death at the age of 12 years.
"I am greatly distressed at my dear old 'Dacko' having died. The dear old dog was so attached to me and had such funny amusing ways, with large melancholy expressive eyes, and was quite part of my daily life, always in my room, and I will miss him very much ... " (Letters of Queen Victoria Vol. II).
There is a statue of Dacko in the Home Park, Windsor.
Royalty set the fashion, and soon the breed was popular with the nobility. As early as 1881 the English Dachshund was formed, but it was not until seven years later that such a club was formed in Germany. Our present Royal Family has always owned Dachshunds, and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was an honorary life member of the Dachshund Club. The Queen owns a red miniature smooth, Nicky, (I had the honour of owning Nicky's only sister). Princess Margaret owned a miniature long-haired.
The Dachshund is a most adaptable dog. One can find him living happily in every country of the world, usually as a much loved pet and companion, sharing his owner's life in every way, Courageous and gay, great lovers of comfort (they make super hot water bottles on cold nights), they are also in their seventh heaven playing in the snow, tunnelling and digging with their noses.
In Germany a forester would not venture forth without his Dachshunds. He uses them for digging out badgers and foxes, while the smaller dogs are used for rabbiting. I know their prowess in these fields, for some years ago two of my old dogs went on a badger-hunting spree. They were dug out of the badger sett after three days, not too much the worse for wear. Another dog of mine would retrieve to the gun. Yet all these dogs loved a seat in the best chair in front of the fire.
At home, in town or in the country, they require very little in the way of grooming. They have an appetite that would be a financial embarrassment only to the poorest. I consider the Dachshund to be one of the greatest luxuries available to all.
As house guards they are unbeatable. Their bark is strong and resonant, and when several dogs are kept in the house, as I have proved, it would be a very brave intruder who would invade their territory. He is very much an individualist and no two dogs are alike. He is much too proud to learn parlour tricks, so don't waste time trying to teach him. But he will entrance you with his antics and endearing ways. He just wants to be your dog, and will not easily make friends with strangers.
Travelwise he is superb. Whether by bus, car or train - or as one of my friends does, in his own plane – journeys are taken as a natural course of events.
Their courage really- shows if they are ever ill. They strive so hard to get well and just will not give in. I once had to have two major operations performed in one day on a 12 year-old, and she is now and as sprightly as a five year old.
It comes as a shock to non-Dachshund owners to hear Dachshund people admit that one, two or even three of their dogs accompany then to bed. This is how the breed gets one, and of course you do know, don't you, that Dachshunds have no body odour.
One thing is certain. Once you have owned a Dachshund, no other breed will do.
Copyright Rossglen 1972 and 2006