Saturday, September 25, 2010

How Much Is That Dachshund in the Window?

This working dachshund is a rescue with a fine nose and a booming voice.

I like Dachshunds, but they are not the dog for everyone.  

Too many people forget that these dogs started off as small, turbo-charged working dogs designed to go down holes and face off against Badger (aka "the dachs").

Today most Dachshunds are pretty far from their working roots, but the genetic code for prey drive does not always wash out neat and easy.

When genetic prey drive is mixed in with unsupervised children, ignorant owners, and the natural fear of a small dog overwhelmed by much larger people careening around it, you get what you have with Dachshunds:  the breed of dog MOST likely to bite a human.

Is a Dachshund bite likely to be fatal? 

No, of course, not. 

That said, it is sure to be painful, and in a small child it might also be disfiguring.

Jack Russell Terrier owners go out of their way to warn people off of their breedThis is a hunting dog, they let the world know. 

Dachshund owners?  Not so much.  

And so, time and time again, Dachshunds are acquired by people who are "totally surprised" to learn their "little wiener dog" is a very loud barker and perhaps a biter to boot.

Dachshunds come in three sizes, three coat types (smooth, long and wire) and a variety of colors.

  • Standard Dachshunds tend to be oversized and poorly bred in the U.S. and in the U.K.  Under Germany's FCI rules, however, a standard Teckel or working Dachshund is supposed to have a chest measurement of 35 cm, or 13.78 inches. This is about the same size as the chest span of the average red fox.
  • Miniature Dachshund or Teckels are supposed to have a chest circumference of 30 to 35 cm when measured at the age of 15 months or older. This smaller chest allows the dog to follow even a very small vixen to ground in a very tight earth.
  • Rabbit Teckels are rare in the U.S., but in Germany this size is supposed to have chest circumference of up to 30 cm measured when at least 15 months old.   As the name suggests, these dogs are sometimes used for rabbiting, and many have chests as small as 10 inches around.

How about health?

Dachshunds tend to live fairly long lives, but not so long as their analogs in the working terrier world, such as Jack Russells, Borders, and non-Kennel Club Patterdale and Fell terriers.

The main reason Dachshunds tend to die 2-3 years younger than their terrier counterparts is that Dachshunds are more likely to be plagued with congenital and acquired joint and spine problems -- the kind of thing you should expect to find in an achondroplastic (dwarf) breed with an unnaturally long  back.

As Embrace Pet Insurance notes,
The most common health issues in the breed are back problems. Conditions severe enough for hind-end paralysis are so common that Dachshunds are one of the breeds most likely to spend part of their lives in “canine wheelchairs”: wheeled carts that support the rear of the dogs.

Because of their long, low-slung spines, normal canine behavior like jumping off the sofa may result in a slipped, pinched, herniated or ruptured disc. Dogs can be injured even in relatively mild play, and will sometimes show defensive or apparently aggressive behavior at other dogs – or children – who are nearby. In fact, a study done at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the Ohio State University approximated that Dachshunds are 57 times more likely to suffer from a herniated intervertebral disc than all other breeds.

Data from Embrace Pet Insurance is incomplete
, and does not seem to cover spinal surgeries.   What data they do present, however, suggests that owning a Dachshund comes with a high chance of having a multi-thousand dollar veterinary bill presented to you some time in the future.

So how do you feel about Dachshunds now?


Mina said...

I'd never have chosen one, but like you say, I ended up with one that kept biting at children. Also joggers, bikes, men and people who put their hand down, even if to touch a different dog.

I took him on from an owner who had kiddies and couldn't have him biting all their friends.

You are right, definitely turbo-charged, he's fast and sneaky and can sense when I'm about to get a blanket out as he wants to get under it - he's often trying to get on my lap before I've quite sat down. Last time I walked in an area with rabbit warrens I thought he was going to disappear down one! I normally avoid them because of my greyhound but was in a new area so didn't know they were there.

I love Scamp, but would never recommend them as a companion dog.

seeker said...

I inherited a dachund when I married her owner. He hunted over her for years for rabbits, quail and duck. She would retrieve the ducks from the pond then imagine a young man with a shotgun chasing a red doxie around with a teal in her mouth. She bit me a few time during our relationship, but nothing bad, and would terrorize my collie. Lived to be 19 when cancer took her. Hubby thinks my Shorty is part doxie and he could be right. Very similiar temperments and appearance!

Debi and the TX JRTs

Ajay said...

Scariest ever dog-recumbent trike encounter was with a Dachshund. Second home owners typically let their dogs (and cats) "run free in the country" around here, despite local leash laws and snack-seeking coyotes, bears, bobcats, fishers etc. So, one day I was riding my trike past a spite fence with an opening just for the driveway. Noted the gate was open, and was past it when a wiener dog bombed into the road, launched at my throat, and got hung up in my helmet"s chin strap. Of course mad yapping (IT) and swearing (ME) brought no assistance from the house. I managed to unclip the brain bucket and heave both it and the dog to the side of the road. Passing motorist stopped to yell at me for tossing the dog/helmet combo, but didn't help the dog (still tangled) or me (bleeding profusely). Eventually dog managed to rolled back into the driveway, and I managed to roll home. Never got back the helmet with my phone number in it - no telling what the second homers thought.
I've dealt with too-intent larger dogs by using "baby" (puppy?) talk as I'm approaching on the trike - usually I'm riding so slowly that they have time to absorb the weird object and decide I'm not a threat, and not prey either. But that Dachshund blindsided me!

Cassandra Was Right said...

Petey, a German-descended standard Doxie which I bought in India, became a great family dog despite biting my youngest, newly-adopted 3-year-old daughter when they first met.

He kept the yard free of cats and squirrels and the garage and woodpile free of rats, and could often be found happily tunneling under massive trees after who-knows-what with nothing but a frantically wagging tail tip showing.

He met his nemesis in Cookie, a Jindo pup who thought of him as her personal chase toy and was nimble enough to get away with that, but was able to take his irritation out on Mabel, the Gekas Hound pup, whom he bossed with great vigor and conviction. When the pups grew up, the three of them would hunt the back yard together: Cookie watching the treetops and Petey checking the ground.

There could be NOTHING more German than Petey and the power of his certainty. He kept the kitchen floor clear of crumbs, and once swallowed an entire pork chop with the bone in it, whole, rather than surrender it to its rightful owner, aforementioned daughter, who had accidentally upset her dinner plate. Of course, he digested the entire chop with no trouble at all.

Petey taught me a lot about no-nonsense dog management, god rest his grumpy great soul.

Viatecio said...

I almost ended up with a dachshund named Shorty, but decided that the breed just wasn't for me. I'd been working with his owner with solving some severe possession issues and he was so much better by the time he came to me for potential ownership, but still had a few issues (namely some space possession and anything he was chewing at the time).

I ended up giving him back, not because he was a mean little snot, but because I learned pretty quickly that my working 2 fulltime jobs was no fair life for any dog, plus I just don't really have an appreciation for small dogs like those. Doesn't mean I don't like them, but they're like kids: at the end of the day, it's nice to be able to hand them back. He found a great home a few months later with someone who understood what his problems were, and thankfully were dachshund people.

Can't say that my experience was standard, but like Mina said, I would have a hard time recommending them as a family companion unless the family knows the breed and what, from finances to training, must go into owning one.

Gabriele said...

I feel bad that you have had bad times with this breed. My two Bella and Cooper have been great family pets and super hunters with strong noses and voice. I will never change breeds again, another great thing about these guys is if you need to skip a walk one day they don't go nuts in the house like some of my past terriers "although I did enjoy one old jack for the 15 years I was with him." It totaly depends on how you train them and some owners need to remember just becuse they are small they are not purse dogs, they are hounds that go to ground.

teddi said...

I am on my 4th dachshund. I have raised them all from young pups. I have never had one that bit or was aggressive.
As small pups, I have pulled their ears and tail gently while eating. I have conditioned them to children at early ages. One has to be strict and firm on young doxies. All of them have grown up to be well manered. That may be the difference between raising your own and getting one that is already set in his ways.
All of them,have been lap, bed, and blanket companions. My red doxie, Pokey lived to be 16. The last one I have is now 12 and doing well.