This is a topic I’m especially interested in because I am a passionate wired haired dachshund owner (sometimes called Doxie, Doxen, or Teckle). I compete with them professionally in grooming competitions, dog shows, and even trick dog competitions.
This just happens to be my specialty, so I will share everything I’ve learned about my favorite breed.
Table of Contents
At A Glance
- Temperament: Fun, silly, somewhat lazy, curious, clever, alert to surroundings, friendly, loves to bark, loves to nap
- Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years
- Size and Weight:
- Miniature – 8 to 11 pounds and 5 to 6 inches tall
- Standard – 15 to 32 pounds and 8 to 9 inches tall
- There is a huge variety of dachshund colors.
- There are two distinct dachshund sizes: Miniature and Standard. Both differ slightly in temperament.
- Dachshunds were originally used to hunt hares and badgers, and still carry strong hunting and barking traits.
- They were used to dig and burrow into tunnels to seek out prey.
- They’re food driven and intelligent, which allows for easy training, but are prone to becoming overweight.
- Potty training and excessive barking are common issues with this breed.
- Wire haired dachshunds are low shedding, have minimal body odor, but are not considered hypoallergenic.
History and Origins
Dachshunds were originally a hunting breed officially recognized in Germany during the mid-19th century.
However, early depictions indicate that Dachshunds have been around centuries longer.
Although the exact origins are still unknown, it’s assumed they were descendants of Basset Hounds. Early breeders sought smaller hunting dogs that were “low to the ground” (Source: Dachshund Club of America)
Dachshund (pronounced Daks-hund) is a German term that literally translates to “Badger Dog”, indicating it’s purpose rather than to the breed itself. Although famous for exterminating badgers, early writings indicate they were often used for hunting rabbits, foxes, rats, and even wild boars. (Forest and Stream; A Journal of Outdoor Life, Travel, Nature Study, Shooting, Fishing, Yachting [1873-1930])
The earliest official records show that the first dachshunds’ were registered in Germany in 1840. The first standard for dachshunds was later written in 1879.
Dachshunds were imported to America in 1887 and quickly rose in popularity. However, that popularity came to a complete halt during World War I in 1914 over anti-German sentiment. The same happened during World War II, and breeding stock became non-existent.
At wars end, the Dachshund Club of America took the initiative and began a successful educational campaign to restore the Dachshunds image, leading to it becoming and remaining one of America’s 10 most popular breeds. (expanded history)
Temperament & Personality
- Somewhat lazy, friendly, curious, loves naps, alert to surroundings, follows a daily routine, tends to bark, stubborn in some aspects.
The wire haired dachshund have distinct personality traits that differ from their smooth-coated or long-haired siblings.
Dachshunds in general prefer to spend their days looking for a warm spot (or place in the sun) to nap.
Usually, the first order of business is to pick out a spot on your couch or bed and claim it as their home base.
They love a daily routine, especially one that involves relaxing. Also note, they are very good at keeping track of time and don’t appreciate when their owners are running late.
Nap times are always welcome, but that isn’t to say they don’t love some outdoor adventures or playtime. A short walk will keep them happy and entertained, but they can keep up surprisingly well on an extended trek.
Despite their laid back attitude they are very alert to their surroundings. While they’re too small to make guard dogs, they make excellent watchdogs. Barking at everything is one of their favorite past times.
Excessive barking, potty training, and digging, are common issues many dachshund owners face, and one we’ll cover below in training exercises.
While stubborn in some aspects, they are very bright and food driven, which makes learning new tricks a fun experience.
Dachshunds are love-stricken for their owners, but can often get jealous if another dog or child is claiming their owner’s full attention. They can be somewhat cautious of strangers yet generally not aggressive. Early socialization and positive training can help deal with nervousness or anxiety.
According to American and Canadian Kennel Club: the general appearance of the dachshund is low to the ground, short-legged, and long-bodied.
Despite their short legs, they should be agile, not cramped by its physical stature, yet not too slim or ‘weasel-like’.
Wire haired dachshunds specifically have a thick, wiry texture, that should feel coarse to the touch.
The AKC standard, and breed standard, instructs that wire haired coats should almost look like a smooth coat from a distance but with bushy eyebrows and a moderate beard.
- The body and tail hairs are slim.
- The only significant hair length is left to give a distinct beard and eyebrows.
If left ungroomed their hair will continuously grow into a thick mane.
Dachshund colors and patterns come in a huge variety. Typically wire haired are:
- Wild Boar
- Chocolate Boar
- Black and Tan
- Pie Bald (Pattern)
The most common wire haired color being Wild Boar.
Wild Boar itself ranges in color; from light tan, to reddish-brown, to nearly black. Characterized by banded “agouti” hairs with several different colors on each individual hair.
Size and Weight
The ideal weight of a miniature is 8 to 11 pounds. Just 1 pound extra can mean the difference between a healthy dog and an overweight one.
Standards have a little more threshold and typically weigh 15 to 32 pounds.
- Miniature – 5 to 6 inches tall
- Standard – 8 to 9 inches tall
When it comes to grooming style; the choice is up to the owner’s personal preference and commitment.
Most owners like the slim body with a long beard, eye brows, and legs. While others prefer a long scruffy look all over.
Here I’ll describe some of the techniques and challenges with grooming wire haired dachshunds.
Grooming a wire hair has a few different techniques and styles:
Hand stripping – The process of manually removing dead hairs that encourages their coat to remain naturally thick and bristly.
Clipping / Shaving – An easy short term solution, however, this will eventually cause hairs to grow in limp and soft, drastically changing the appearance of their coat.
Letting hair grow out – For owners that prefer the long, scruffy look. Although they may need the occasional trim when it gets too long.
You can mix things up a bit – For example: you can hand strip just the body, but let the legs, face, and beard grow out to your liking.
To maintain proper hair texture (for AKC standard or working dogs) wire haired dachshunds are not trimmed or shaved but hand stripped.
Hand stripping is the process of manually removing dead hairs with hands or the assistance of a stripping knife.
Keep in mind this process causes no pain or discomfort when done properly.
Wiry coat breeds go through a shedding cycle in which their hair reaches a maximum length and then sheds dead hairs. Grooming coordinates with that cycle to manually remove the dead and loose hairs (many of my wiry coat clients fall asleep during the process).
By manually removing dead hairs their natural rough wiry hair is encouraged take its place.
The average pet will only need stripping every 3 to 6 months.
Learn more about hand stripping the wire haired dachshund.
Shaving or Clipping
While it may not follow breed standard guidelines, you can safely shave a wire coat.
Keep in mind: shaving inherently changes the coat texture of a wiry breed.
Rather than removing the old dead hair by pulling it out from the hair follicle, clipping allows the hair to remain and causes it to eventually die. This results in a drastic and permanent coat change that we call “silky coat”.
Eventually, your Wire Haired Dachshund will more closely resemble a Yorkshire Terrier or Maltese coat. Presenting some new problems such as excessive matting, difficulty brushing, and costly grooms.
Wire haired dachshunds are natural ‘earth dogs’, hence their protective bristly coat. Therefore, I’ll always recommend you focus on hand stripping rather than full-body clipping.
Training and Exercise
Wire haired dachshunds are incredibly bright, which makes teaching new tricks and routines an absolute joy. The problem comes with their stubbornness with potty training and barking.
Dachshunds are incredibly food-driven, and will do anything for a treat. That’s a huge advantage, allowing owners to lock in their attention.
Use this advantage to motivate them into learning new tricks.
Remember: This is a sensitive breed, and do not respond well to scolding or negative feedback. They’ll listen closely to the sound of your voice and actions. Reward them for good behavior instead of punishing for bad.
Clicker training has proven to be an invaluable tool for training dachshunds.
Bad Habits - Potty Training & Barking
Every dachshund owner will tell you the struggles of potty training.
Even as a trained adult dog they may occasionally test the rules, or may go potty indoors out of spite. It may even be that it’s just too cold outside! This is the unfortunate reality of being a dachshund owner.
Crate training is an excellent counter as they will rarely make a mess of their own space.
Keep a routine of letting them into the backyard every 2 hours without fail. Consider rewarding them with a small treat immediately after relieving themselves outdoors. They’ll become accustomed to habit and won’t make a mess of your carpet.
Another unfortunate reality of this dog is endless barking.
I will be honest with you, the only real solution is removing “triggers”, such as keeping curtains closed so they don’t feel the need to alert to any passerby.
Desensitizing to noises (getting them used to the sounds of vehicles, barking, or children playing), or socializing them to people and dogs may reduce the need to alert.
Other successful tactics include keeping them mentally and physically tired through daily activity.
Remember: Avoid scolding or negative training. Dachshunds were literally bred to bark loudly to alert their owners when hunting.
While dachshunds love nap time, they may love it a little too much. Being prone to obesity a little daily exercise must become routine.
A short stroll or visit to the park will always be welcome. But if you’d like to trek a little further have no fear, a dachshund will happily accompany you for many city blocks.
Just as important as a daily walk is daily mental stimulation. Remember, a bored dog is a destructive dog. Keep them mentally exhausted by playing games, learning tricks, or exploring new areas.
Dachshunds are very food driven, and will always beg for any bit of food you may be preparing. Resist the puppy eyes. Obesity is a very real health risk for this breed.
Obesity can worsen joint problems (arthritis), back problems leading to slipped discs, heart disease, and metabolic and digestive disorders.
I recommend weighing out meals with a food scale for accurate portion tracking.
- Miniature – 8 to 11 pounds
- Standard – 15 to 32 pounds
Long bodied and short-legged breeds, such as dachshunds, are prone to Chondrodystrophy (CDDY) and Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD), the degeneration of intervertebral discs.
You can reduce strain on their spine by:
- Maintaining ideal body weight and diet (see obesity above).
- Avoid having them jump from high places (couch or bed), build proper dog ramps if necessary.
- Pick them up with proper spinal support (keeping the spine straight and horizontal).
Dachshunds are prone to dry eyes, cataracts, and the most serious condition: PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy).
PRA is a genetic degenerative disease affecting the retina, and can slowly lead to blindness. Symptoms can appear as young as 6 months old. You may notice your dog is reluctant to move in dimly lit areas or stairs.
This is a hereditary disease with no treatment. However, can be prevented through ethical breeding practices.
Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Brittle Bone Disease
Brittle Bone Disease is when the bones become extremely fragile. About 12% of Dachshunds are carriers of the disease. Dogs can be carriers of this disease and show no symptoms, yet transmit it to 50% of their puppies.
A proper DNA test called an OI test can detect the disease and allow breeders to properly screen dogs before breeding.
Dachshunds can live a very long and happy life. Sometimes reaching up to the age of 20. The more common lifespan is from 12 to 16.
Adopting a Wire Haired Dachshund
Dachshunds are incredibly popular (12th most popular breed in the world) which can, unfortunately, lead to unethical breeding practices. Because of their numerous health concerns, receiving an unhealthy pup can be extremely costly and heartbreaking.
What To Look For:
- Have breeders provide health testing and pedigree documents. Avoid breeders who cannot produce authentic paperwork.
- The parents should be screened for hereditary diseases that could be passed down to puppies.
- Closely analyze pictures from previous or current litters and their parents.
- Their backs should be horizontal with no dips or slopes (indicating future spinal problems).
- Eyes appropriately spaced apart (no birth defects or inbreeding).
- Their hind legs and back paws should be forward facing (not turned inwards or outwards)
- Their lower back and hindquarters should look strong and well-muscled.
- Avoid breeders that create litters specifically for colors or “rare” colors. These are usually the result of excessive breeding and unhealthy practices.
Remember: For-profit breeders may purposely misinform you. Ask questions or ask breed experts in your area for assistance.