Dachshunds, with their long, low bodies, are easily recognizable. However, they're a diverse breed. The American Kennel Club recognizes two sizes and three coat types. There is the standard or miniature dachshund to choose from, and both sizes can have smooth, long or wiry coats. Their coats also come in a wide range of colors. Different coat patterns add to the dachshund's varied appearance.
Dachshunds originated in Germany in the 1700s where they were developed for hunting badgers, foxes and other small mammals. Their short legs and long, muscular bodies made them ideal for following their quarry underground. They would flush, or pull, their prey to the surface; or hold a badger at bay for hunters to dig it out. The AKC officially recognized the dachshund as a breed, in the hound group, in 1885. Today, dachshunds are popular family pets.
Dachshunds are bred and shown in two sizes. According to the AKC breed standard, standard dachshunds usually weigh between 16 to 32 pounds. Miniature dachshunds are in the same classification as standard dogs, but they compete in a class division for dogs weighing 11 pounds or less at 12 months of age or older. The AKC breed standard doesn't specify any height for dachshunds. D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D., in "The Dog Breed Bible," gives the height for standard dachshund as 8 to 9 inches at the withers and 5 to 6 inches for miniature dogs.
The Smooth Dachshund
Smooth dachshunds were the original variation of the breed. They ideally have short, smooth, shiny coats that lie neatly against their bodies. Their tails should be well covered with hair -- the underside can have longer bristles -- and taper to a point at the end. The smooth ears shouldn't look leathery. Their smooth coats only need a weekly brush to remove dead hairs, and an occasional bath if they get dirty.
The Longhaired Dachshund
The longhaired dachshund was developed by hunters who wanted dogs with greater protection from the cold. Canine researcher D. Caroline Coile Ph.D., explains in her book, "Barron's Dog Bibles Dachshunds," how smooth dachshunds may have been crossed with spaniels to produce the longhaired variation, or hunters could have bred selectively from smooth dachshunds born with longer hair. Longhaired dachshunds have straight or slightly wavy hair, which is longer on their ears and chests, under their necks, the underside of their bodies and behind their legs. The long hair on their tails forms a flag shape. Their elegant coats don't require trimming, but will need to be brushed twice a week and bathed monthly.
The Wirehaired Dachshund
In 1890, five years after dachshunds were recognized as a breed by the AKC, the organization officially recognized wirehaired dachshunds as a third variation. In her book "Barron's Dog Bibles Dachshunds," Coile believes, hardcoated terriers and wirehaired pinschers probably were crossed with smooth dachshunds to produce the wirehaired variety, as hunters needed dogs with coats that would provide maximum protection in dense undergrowth. Wirehaired dachshunds have a short, thick, rough outercoat, with a softer undercoat, distributed between the coarser hairs. Beards and eyebrows are the wirehaired dogs' distinguishing facial features. They have thickly haired tails that taper to a point. Wirehaired dachshunds require weekly brushing and bathing every few months. Their coats also need stripping twice a year to remove dead hairs.
Coat Colors and Patterns
Smooth and longhaired dachshund's coats can be red or cream, with or without interspersed dark hairs. They can also have two-colored coats that can be black, chocolate, wild boar, gray or fawn -- Isabella -- with tan or cream markings. The most common colors for wirehaired dachshunds are wild boar, with the variations of red boar and chocolate and tan boar, black and tan or different shades of red. However, the AKC allows wirehaired dogs to be any of the recognized colors. All three coat types can have patterns superimposed over the dominant color. A dapple pattern has patches of a lighter color contrasting with the darker main color. Brindle dachshunds are patterned with black or dark stripes over their entire bodies. Sables are red coats that have a uniform overlay of hairs, which are darker at the tips.