By Fiona Douglas
What I write here is based on one third of a century of living with dachshunds, plus the past decade as a breeder with many, many dachsies in my life from sunrise to sunset. And remember … there’s always Google too!
Mini dachshunds come in three different coat types – wire, long and smooth – and aspects of their temperaments are noticeably different. For this reason I discuss aspects common to all three, and then go on to discuss each coat type separately.
1. What all coat types share in common
Although mini dachshunds are small, they are very much a ‘real dog’ who loves to go for walks, run at the beach or park and chew on raw bones – no bone is too big! This bone they will adore, stowing it away for future joy. They will put much thought into the hiding place and might well re-hide it should they suspect it has been located. Some love to swim, some don’t. Some are food pigs, some are not (50/50 here), but none of them are fussy eaters.
They also have a decent big dog like ‘WOOF’ and strong jaws. For this reason, combined with their bravery, they make excellent watch dogs. They will bark when people come to your door until such time as they either recognise the person or can see the person is fine by you.
My first dachshund Gina had a thing about men. She could tell male from female and (alone at home with my human babies then) she would set up a wonderful rumbling low growl should a strange man call at the door (something I did not discourage). But a woman – no probs. Didn’t look twice.
That said, of the 20 plus dachshunds I have shared my life with over the decades, not one of them has ever attempted to bite anyone for any reason and on any occasion. Of course never leave young children unsupervised with ANY dog or puppy, irrespective of the dog’s age or breeding.
It’s worth noting that dachshunds do not ‘yap’. They bark, and when they bark it is usually because someone has arrived who they don’t know/can’t yet see. An exception here is a dachshund kept in an apartment all day long, on their own and with no view of the world. A dog held in these conditions might develop neurotic barking. Accordingly I don’t recommend a dachshund for anyone in a flat who is away most of the day.
Dachshunds are an ideal breed if you already have a dog in your household. The reason is that the dachshund is a ‘non dominant’ breed. They have no desire to get into doggy politics for the position of ‘top dog’, hence any existing family dog is not going to feel threatened or be usurped. Contrast this to the Jack Russell terrier; a feisty courageous little dog that has to be ‘top dog’. A dachshund will happily blend into your family pack – human, feline and canine – without pomp or fuss.
It is this same ‘non dominant’ nature of the dachshund that sees them happy to play with children. Compare again to our Jack Russell (13 year old Jackie); she won’t play with the children because she views herself as higher than them (!) in the pack pecking order. And this status matters a lot to her, because that is her wiring. Dachshunds don’t fuss about pecking order and some will play fetch with a child until the child’s had enough.
Training the dachshund I have never found hard. I don’t think I have ever consciously trained them, in fact. By this I mean I am so busy speaking to them that we just ‘communicate’ right from the start. I expect them to understand me and sooner or later it happens. In regard to house training, they are very clean little dogs and given the opportunity will virtually house train themselves. By ‘opportunity’, I am talking access to outdoors as soon as they wake and leave their beds, clear and ready access to puppy pad or newspaper at all times, keeping them off the carpet etc. Breeders have a role to play here wrt house training too. Puppies who have not been kept in clean conditions from the start of life can be harder to house train.
On the topic of cleanliness, the dachshund breed stands apart. They are well known for not having a ‘doggy’ smell. I virtually never wash my smooth hair dachshunds and they do not smell at all. Same with my long haired and wired haired dogs. I do groom my longs once every few weeks, however, and check all my dogs for grass seeds (under their arm pits, tums etc). But they do not smell; lovely clean, shiny healthy coats thanks to a good diet and good breeding.
In regard to shedding, they do not shed to speak of. My longs might thin a bit in summer, but not much. I clip my long haired dogs during the hottest months. Normal grooming once every few weeks would remove the small bits of loose hair. And the smooths don’t shed either. Now Jackie, on the other hand, my lovely old Jack Russell…white hair everywhere!
Healthwise, they have few ailments compared with the long lists to be found with some other purebreds. They are not plagued by back problems like their much bigger standard cousins were/are. The back issues of the standard dachshund were due to a genetic defect which reportedly affected as many as 20% of all standard dachshunds at one time. This genetic predisposition was exacerbated by obesity, culminating in dreadful back problems.
The mini dachshund (to the best of my research) does not have this genetic defect in its lines. Further, they are a light weight dog; maybe 4kg to 9kg in weight range so the added stress of weight is not there.
2. The mini smooth
Mini smooths are a loyal, smart and brave little dog. Often they can attach to one person more than another, but this can also be the case for any dog where one person is the primary feeder and spends the most time around the dog (home all day, for example).
They do not seek to dominate (a non dominating breed), so slip in easily within the family pack of felines, children and other dogs.
3. The mini long
Mini longs are similarly loyal and brave little dogs, but not as smart as their smooth counterpart. Perhaps ‘smart’ is not a fair description, but rather they are more ‘lay back’. They are happy to watch the world go by and snuggle on your lap. They will bark if a stranger approaches however, so they remain a good and brave watch dog, just like their smooth cousins.
Their gentle disposition is linked to the gene for the long hair (my theory at least) as this is seen in other long hair dogs, such as the long haired Cocker Spaniel, Red Setter, King Charles Cavaliers and so on. In fact the long hair genetics in the dachshunds originates with the Spaniels, when they were bred with Basset Hounds and other breeds to get the dachshund some hundreds of years ago.
The long haired mini dachshund is more likely to be the best friend of everyone in the household. They are not as inclined to form a one-on-one attachment, but there are no hard and fast rules here. (My own Patches a case in point: worships me and-me-alone, but he came to me as a three year old, met me first and stuck-like-glue. So I suspect his insecurities at being rehoused are playing a part here. But flattering, nonetheless, and I suspect I worship him back!)
A long haired dachshund puppy might take that little bit longer to develop their full personality. You might find them a bit ‘dopey’ (but not dumb) however by the time they reach full maturity (whijch is two years of age for all dogs), the depth of their personality and loving ways will shine through.
If you live on acres, you must be vigilant for grass seeds if you are wanting a long haired dog. Grass seeds can soon work their way into the dog and cause infection and can necessitate surgery if the seed ingresses into the dog’s body. Over the years we have add two surgical events each costing several hundreds of dollars a times to locate an invading grass seed in our long haired dogs.
That said, I wouldn’t be without my long haired dachsie as well as my smooths. A bit of massage and combing in the grass seed season is actually a time my dogs and I relax as we enjoy this close contact.
4. The mini wire haired
Wire haired dachshunds are known as the comedians of the three coat types. We have two wire haired girls (my little USA girl Wish) and June Bug (Wish’s daughter), Pikelet, James and USA import Cherry.
They have the terrier spirit thanks to that wire gene and are the more dominant of the coat types. That said, the dachshund is not a dominating breed overall. They don’t get into politics like in the way breeds like chiahuahuas, Jack Russells and foxies do (!).
Top little dachshunds. They are common in Europe and the USA, but seldom seen in Australia.