Dachshunds have maintained their spot in the top 10 most popular dog breeds for 20 years, and there's no sign their popularity will dwindle any time soon. Why are these pint-sized pooches so popular? These spunky pups have the "pawfect" mashup of cuteness and personality and are well-suited for both apartment and country living.

Dachshunds: fast facts about the breed

Height: 13 to 14.5 inches / Length: 21.5 to 25 inches / Weight: under11 lbs (miniature), 16 to 32 lbs (standard) / Lifespan: 12 – 16 years

A brief history of the Dachshund

The Doxie's history dates back over half a century to Germany, where they were bred to aid sportspeople in hunting badgers. The Doxie's unbridled tenacity, long and thin body, and webbed feet made digging into the badgers' burrow an easy task. Later on, Dachshunds assisted hunters in taking down bigger game like wild hogs — the strong-willed Doxie is always up for a challenge! Historians are conflicted about the exact origin of this breed. Some believe the Doxie was created by crossing 3 prey-driven breeds: the German Pointer, Bloodhound, and Pinscher. Others think the Doxie was created by breeding shorter versions of the Hanover Hound (also called a Schweisshund.) Though it's uncertain how these feisty fur-babies came about, we sure are glad they exist!

What do Dachshund puppies look like?

There are many variations among this breed, which means Doxies can look lots of different ways. According to the AKC, Dachshunds come two sizes — miniature and standard — though die-hard Doxie fans have coined the term "tweenies" for those who fall between these size groups. Full-grown Doxies under 11 lbs are considered "mini," whereas adults between 16 and 32 lbs fall into the standard category. As for coats, these can be smooth or wiry and long or short. The AKC recognizes several colors and patterns in Dachshunds, including red, black, brown, brindle, dappled, piebald, and "wild boar". The wild boar pattern is typically seen in wiry Doxies and is characterized by gold, brown, and black around the eyes, chest, and feet. Tan and red variations are sometimes seen in this pattern, as well. Dapple Doxies (also called merles) are rarer and usually more expensive than the other patterns. Doxie lovers go crazy for their attractive speckled coat, solid facial markings, and unique color combos. It's not unusual for merles to have heterochromia, or different colored eyes, usually one brown and one blue.

Dachshund temperament

Whoever said, "Dynamite comes in small packages," probably had a Dachshund. Though short-statured, this vivacious breed is remarkably brave, curious, and protective of the ones they love. Doxies are known for their stubbornness and will work themselves to exhaustion and belly rashes when doing something they love. Dachshund puppies are often super playful and energetic, making them an excellent pet for families with older children. This breed is incredibly smart and curious, which means they can sometimes get into mischief. Big brains and small bodies make for good escape artists, so make sure your fence is secure if you intend on adopting a teeny Houdini.

Training your Dachshund puppy

The Dachsund's strong-willed and cunning nature makes them one of the more difficult breeds to train. Training an independent dog like the Dachshund is made possible with a lot of time, consistency, and rewards. The Dachshund's high prey drive and hypervigilance can make keeping them focused a chore, so it's best to work in an area with few distractions. Doxies have a very sensitive nose and are often super food-oriented (aren't we all) — but they're also prone to obesity. Obesity can cause unnecessary stress on their long spine and make them more susceptible to slipped disks, arthritis, and heart disease. While treats are terrific tools for positive reinforcement, they should be kept to a minimum. Instead, use lots of praise, new toys, and plenty of pets to reward your doxie's good behavior.

Diet and exercise for Dachshund puppies

Since Dachshunds are genetically predisposed to obesity, owners need to make a concerted effort to keep them in peak shape. Though obesity isn't typically a concern for spry, young pups, it's important to develop a diet and exercise regime early on. Another common concern for Dachshund owners is the breed's genetic predisposition to food and skin allergies. Doxies may go years without food sensitivities, but then one day, their immune system responds differently to their kibble, causing an allergic reaction. In general, Dachshund puppies should eat balanced dry food that meets their calcium and phosphorus needs. The first ingredient in their chow should be a high-quality protein like chicken, lamb, or fish, and the nutritional makeup should be at least 22% protein. When you first get your Doxie, ask the breeder what brand they use. If you want to switch them to a different formula, mix 1 part of their old brand with 1 part of their new brand. Probiotic supplements may help minimize gastric distress and discomfort when transitioning brands. Most vets suggest 0.5 to 1 cup of food per day for growing Dachshunds. If your pooch still wants to munch throughout the day, try dividing their kibble between 3 servings. You don't need to invest in a doggy elliptical to keep your pup healthy, but you should take them for regular walks and encourage play. Tossing a tennis ball and playing chase are all excellent ways to stimulate your puppy mentally and physically. Be mindful of your dog's body language and physical cues. Doxies may become exhausted or injure themselves and still keep playing. Exercise indoors if outside temps are very high to keep your pooch from becoming overheated, especially if they're overweight.

Grooming your Dachshund puppy

How you'll need to groom your Dachshund puppy depends on their coat. Long-haired Doxies typically need to be groomed more regularly since their soft coat tangles easily and can interfere with their bodily functions. At the very minimum, long-haired Doxies need the area around their genitals cut and regular brushing and trims. Some owners prefer the lower maintenance "puppy cut," which involves shaving the body and leaving the ears and tail long. Shorter-haired Doxies require very little maintenance — just regular brushing and a bath about once a month. A perk to owning a Doxie is they have very little odor and can go much longer between washes than other breeds. The grooming regime for wire-haired Doxies is similar to those with short hair, with one exception — wiry Dachshunds should have their undercoat plucked bi-yearly. Either a stripping knife or undercoat rake brush can be used to pull the thick undercoat out. Stripping your dog's coat will help regulate their body temperature and cut down on shedding. One thing Doxies of all hair types need is regular nail trims. Dachshunds' nails grow quite quickly and can interfere with walking if they aren't maintained. Use canine nail clippers with a guard or a Dremel-style "pawdicure" kit to keep your pooch's paws in ship shape.

Buying a Dachshund puppy

The most important aspect of buying any breed is finding a reputable breeder. But how do you determine if a breeder is reputable? A great breeder will interview you before agreeing to sell you a dog. They'll ask you where you'll keep the dog, if you're familiar with the breed, and may even request references. The breeder should also have their own personal, professional, and vet references. A professional breeder wouldn't be willing to separate puppies from their mothers before 6 weeks old and should have veterinary paperwork on both the parents and the offspring. Breeders should also discuss any known genetic defects in the bloodline and disclose them to the buyer. Most breeders will draw up contracts for their clients and may have refund policies in place should something happen to the puppy. Buying a Dachshund puppy tends to be quite costly. The average cost for a purebred Doxie pup ranges from $200 to $1,500 depending on the location, bloodline, and type of Dachshund for sale.

Is a Dachshund the right breed for you?

Dachshunds are an excellent breed for retired people, couples, and families with older kids. Though the Doxie's temperament is a great match for small kids, their elongated spine makes them prone to back injuries. Doxies may be hurt unintentionally by young children due to improper handling and rough play. Dachshund owners need to dedicate a lot of time to training and exercising their dogs, so if you aren't up for the time commitment, then this breed is probably not for you. People looking for a fuzzy couch potato might need to look elsewhere, but should you want a fur-ever friend who keeps you busy and entertained, then a doxie is the "pawfect" pal.
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