Avoid the Dachshund!
Dachshunds are the 11th most popular breed of dog in the U.S. The people that own them have my condolences. They made a mistake. And while they may not yet be aware of it, in time they will. That’s how meritless the dachshund is. They aren’t commonly known as “wiener dogs” for nothing.
My childhood was compromised by spending more than a decade and half of living with three of these nasty creatures. I came to love one of the dogs, Hans, but that was only because I was ignorant of other breeds. I had assumed the multiple categories of bad behavior I witnessed daily was part of every dog. I also was not yet aware there was a thing called a Golden Doodle. If I had, it would have been off to the local Korean Restaurant with Hans, his father Otto, his mother Gretchen, and his sister Heidi.
What makes a dachshund so undesirable? Why would anyone choose this breed over many better choices? To find out, I consulted the work of Michele Welton, author of more than dozen books on dogs. She has also authored a list of the reasons of why and why not a dachshund might be right for a particular owner.
In the positive category, she indicates dachshunds come in a variety of “smallish sizes,” coats, and colors. What does that have to do with it? So do a lot of other dogs. My family had red as well as black and tan ones. All short-haired minis. No difference in temperament based on color as far as we saw.
Ms. Welton also says dachshunds are “comical and entertaining.” This depends on your sense of humor. Except for occasionally sleeping with all four paws straight up, Hans was not a comedian. For amusement, he would bare his teeth and lunge at strangers, even when on a leash. Hans thought it was funny. As his victims ran for cover, his tail would wag.
Then there is the claim that dachshunds are loyal. Partially true. Even if you are the master, don’t tease one when it’s hungry unless you have a finger or two to spare. They also balance out what appears to be loyalty to their master by not hesitating to attack the master’s parents, siblings, and friends. Loyalty in dachshunds goes only so far.
Welton emphasizes that dachshunds are “loyal to their family.” This must mean other dachshunds, not any human family they might live with. And being loyal to other wiener dogs doesn’t mean you don’t try to steal their food when they aren’t looking. Hans did it regularly, including minutes after finishing his own meal.
More consistent with my experience is Welton’s claim that dachshunds need only moderate exercise. This is not a plus. You won’t get any exercise as a result of having one of them. Their legs are so short, especially if you have a mini. Walks are done in about 5 minutes or when the dog poops, whichever comes first. My take is that laziness is a fundamental trait of the breed.
Welton says dachshunds make keen watchdogs. Nonsense. Somewhere, sometime, and probably a long time ago, a dachshund may have prevented a crime. The problem is not that they don’t bark, but that they make up for their woeful adequacies with the vocal cords of a much larger dog. Because their brains are so small, they explode into barking at the slightest provocation. Because we had a small pack of these mutts, sleep was often difficult in our home. That may be why I did so poorly in grade school.
Welton tells us that the dachshund “Is good with other family pets.” Not true if the other family pet is a cat. In our house, our cat, unspayed of course, produced a litter of eight beautiful kitten. Otto, the oldest of our dachshunds, promptly killed four of them, accidentally of course, after my idiot brother left the door to the room where they were sleeping open. We did not punish Otto because we all knew he was too stupid to know any better.
Finally, Welton notes wiener dogs “usually life a long life.” Is this supposed to be a plus? Is a long prison sentence better than a short one? Dachshunds get lazier and smellier as they age. We spent the last three years of Otto’s life feeding him and picking up his poops. (He never quite mastered house-training).
Is it an overstatement to suggest Ms. Welton was looking at the dachshund through rose-colored glasses? In fairness, probably not. Her list of the negatives of this woeful breed includes several observations consistent with my own experience.
First, she notes that they are stubborn. True, but understated. My experience is that stupidity causes the stubbornness. Hans frequently appeared not to respond to commands because he didn’t want to. I think his own stupidity caused it.
Welton also euphemistically suggests dachshunds can be “scrappy toward strange dogs, especially larger dogs.” What breed of dog is so stupid as to snip at a German Shepard? There may be others, but dachshunds may belong at the top of the list. And our experience was that the nicer the “strange dog” our dachshunds would encounter, the more aggressive our mutts became. Thus, Welton is right.
Next Welton tells us dachshunds like to chase and hunt. The name “dachshund” means “badger dog” in German. She should have added, “when they feel like it.” Our dachshunds were always too fat to chase down and kill either a bird or a squirrel. But this doesn’t mean they didn’t try. Hampered with their stubby little legs, they would run off, losing ground immediately to their prey. The chase was always pointless after a few seconds, but, if they weren’t on their leash, off they went. This meant we had to spend an hour chasing the dachshund down.
Welton also reports, truthfully, that the dachshund experiences “notorious housebreaking difficulties.” Our house often smelled like a stadium rest room. Our living room was scented with dog urine because of lifted legs. Unfortunately, Febreze hadn’t been invented yet. The dust ruffles on our furniture were stiff.
Welton does not emphasize the trouble in the toilet department enough. She might have said, “Impossible to housebreak.”
Comically, Welton also warns of a “Potential for excessive barking.” Unless you adopt a dachshund that has had it vocal cord removed, this isn’t a potential, it’s a certainty.
She also notes that dachshunds have the “potential” to dig holes. Our pack lived up to this potential. Most of their digging was targeted towards escape. (I can’t blame them). Of course, most of their efforts were failures, but this only meant that they tracked dirt into the house with remarkable regularity. Frequently, we could not tell if that brown spot on the kitchen floor was dirt or poop.
The next undesirable dachshund trait is described as “Excessive suspiciousness toward strangers when not socialized properly or made to behave.” How to you socialize something as stupid as a dachshund? We tried. Otto tried to bite my sister on the morning of the last day before he died.
Do not fool yourself into believing that you can “fix” a dachshund in the same way a horse whisperer can correct the bad behavior among equines. Just don’t try. If you are interested in getting a dog, do a little homework and get a dog that is not a menace to your neighbors and a health hazard to your home. Why not get a dog that doesn’t shed, s**t, bark, and bite? There are hundreds of breeds smarter, calmer, and cleaner than these miserable dogs.
I sometimes miss Hans (but not the rest of his family). It only takes a minute or two of remembering his ill temper, scent, and toilet habits to get over that.
Additional articles by this author:
Ten Years with a Goldendoodle
If you can find a better dog, adopt her; if not, seek out a Doodle
Eyeing the Ibis
The magic of a chance encounter with a large congregation made me wiser