Dachshunds are wonderful dogs and make terrific companions, but they are not for everyone. As with all dog breeds, individual dogs have their own personalities, but there are some traits that are very common throughout the breed. For example, because they were bred to hunt independently and to kill their prey, dachshunds – especially smooth dachshunds – tend to be stubborn. Poor training can result in excessive barking and housebreaking difficulties in some dachshunds as a result of their stubborn, independent nature. Effective training is a must for all dogs, including dachshunds.
Dachshunds may not be the best dogs for families with young children – or with children of any age who are not taught how to handle and communicate with dogs safely. Dachshunds with strong prey instincts may look at toddlers as prey – especially when the little ones are running, waving their arms, and making high-pitched noises – and the dachshund may chase, bark at, and even nip at them. This behavior is not viciousness or attack biting, but rather a response of the hunting dog to a creature that looks and sounds like something the dog has an instinct to hunt. Children must also be taught to handle a dachshund in such a way that the dog’s spinal column is not injured.
The dachshund courage, which serves the breed so well in the field, can be a problem for city dogs. Dachshunds may bark at and even charge other dogs when they are being walked; this trait is especially obvious if two or more dachshunds are walking together (the pack mentality) and if the other dog is a large breed. For this reason, as well as general common sense, dachshunds should always be walked on a leash and they should always be confined to a securely fenced yard at home. Even the best-trained and most obedient dachshund can bolt into the street suddenly to chase a squirrel or an Akita.
Dachshunds love to burrow – they like to tunnel under bed covers and pillows. They love the company of other dachshunds, which is why you see so many dachshund pairs. They like to curl up and sleep together, with their heads on each other’s backs. They are usually very physically affectionate dogs – they like to snuggle and kiss and be scratched and have their bellies rubbed.
Weight control can be a problem with dachshunds, and it is an absolute necessity because excessive weight puts a strain on the dog’s long and vulnerable spine. Many dachshunds are voracious eaters. They will go to great lengths to get extra food – overturning garbage cans, stealing food out of bags left on the floor, or just begging with “That Look”. It is important that your dachshund be fed the right amount of high-quality dog food to maintain its ideal weight, and that table scraps and treats be kept to a minimum.
Dachshunds are not suited to living outdoors or in a kennel, but should live in the home. Dachshunds can injure their backs jumping on and off furniture, so get a ramp or steps and teach them to use it if they want up on the sofa or bed. When you hold a Dachshund, always be careful to support his rear and his chest. 1 out of every 4 Dachshunds can have serious spinal problems that may need surgery and can result in paralysis.
Potential adopters often ask whether dachshunds are playful. As with all other breeds, the answer to that question depends upon the individual dog. Some dachshunds like to retrieve balls, some like to play with squeaky toys, some like to play with other dogs, and some are just couch potatoes. They often prefer tracking to retrieving, and activities such as earthdog competitions and field trials can be lots of fun for dachshunds and their owners. Your local Dachshund Club of America chapter can tell you about clubs in your area.
Please consider all these characteristics before adopting or fostering a dachshund. Thank you!