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What Were Dachshunds Bred For? History & FAQs

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

What Were Dachshunds Bred For? History & FAQs

Whether you have a Dachshund or are thinking of getting one, you may be wondering about this little dog’s history. Without a doubt, the Dachshund is one of the most easily recognized dog breeds, thanks to its unique look.

With its oddly proportioned long and low-to-the-ground body, the Dachshund has long been called comical names like “hotdog”, “Wiener-dog”, or “sausage dog”. But the name dachshund means “badger dog” in German. This tells us that Dachshunds were originally bred to hunt those nocturnal ground-burrowing animals because hunters could sell or trade the badger’s pelt.

We’ll look at the Dachshund breed through history, starting with its origin, so you can see this hunting breed’s past, which is fascinating!

divider-pawOrigin of the Dachshund Breed

Europeans had been using dogs to hunt badgers since the Middle Ages, but it wasn’t until the late 1600s that the Dachshund breed began to take form. Some European countries had their own versions of badger-hunting dogs, including France and Spain, but it was the German forest workers and hunters that began to breed these small and powerful dogs consistently.

The original German Dachshunds were bigger than the modern full-sized dogs, weighing 31 to 40 pounds. In addition to being used for exterminating badgers, Dachshunds were also used for hunting rabbits and foxes. Additionally, these dogs were used for tracking down wounded deer. It wasn’t unheard of for packs of Dachshunds to be used for hunting wild boar and even the fierce wolverine.

Miniature Dachshund close up
Image By: Pixabay

A Dog’s Body Built for Fighting

As voracious wild animals, badgers didn’t give up their pelts without a good fight. These compact and powerful animals have thick skin and razor-sharp teeth and claws, making them well-equipped to protect their underground dens from intruders.

The Germans knew they had to develop a dog with short legs and an elongated body to easily fit into badger burrows. The feet had to be paddle-like to easily push the dog along underground. The chest had to be deep so the lungs and heart had ample room to provide the dog with the endurance needed to battle for hours underground.

Since the badger dog had to fight the animal head-on with no options for turning around, the “business end” of the dog had to be just right. The original Dachshund was bred to have a prominent bridge bone over the eyes for protection, a strong well-hinged jaw, and large teeth so he could stand up to the ferocious badger.

The Germans also knew that the Dachshund had to be bold, independent, and courageous, which is exactly how this breed is described today. On top of all that, the Dachshund was bred to have a loud, sharp bark so the hunters aboveground knew where their dogs were at all times.

Dachshunds in the Modern Era

The Dachshund was, and still is, one of the most popular dog breeds in Germany. This early popularity helped the Dachshund become known as a symbol of Germany in the minds of many people. It was during this time that political cartoonists used images of the breed to ridicule Germany and its people.

Unfortunately, this led to viewing anyone owning a Dachshund in the United States as being a German sympathizer, wherein they and their dogs were attacked. Without a doubt, the Wiener-dog was given a bad rap. Sometimes Dachshunds were on the receiving end of stones thrown at them while others were kidnapped and killed by all the misdirected hate.

Despite all this bad history, the Dachshund breed survived and enjoyed a tremendous come-back. The Dachshund was even chosen to be the official mascot for the Summer Olympics held in Munich, Germany, in 1972.

Back in the United States, Dachshunds became increasingly popular as people loved these friendly and confident little dogs. While there are smooth-coated, long-haired, and wire-haired Dachshunds, the smooth-coated dogs were, and still are, America’s favorite type.

Dachshund sitting on a ramp
Image By: Masarik, Shutterstock

Dachshunds Are Very Popular Today

Today, the small but mighty Dachshund is a popular dog to keep as a pet. The appearance of the little Wiener-dog makes it a frontrunner in the cuteness category.

While all dogs are cute when puppies, Dachshunds retain their cuteness through adulthood. Couple that with their loyalty and charming personalities, and you have a dog that’s melting hearts the world over!

Not many people can resist the long floppy ears, adorable eyes, and innocent face of the typical Dachshund. These silly little dogs are loads of fun and always ready to play. They’re always game for a new adventure, and they’re as loyal as they can be. A Dachshund also makes an incredible guard dog that will warn its human family of any perceived danger it senses.


As you can see, the Dachshund breed has a long and fascinating history. While this breed has been through everything imaginable, it is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States today.

If you’re thinking of getting a Dachshund puppy, expect to be put on a breeder’s waiting list! But once you bring your little hotdog home, you’ll have a loyal friend for life that’s loads of fun to have around!

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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