Changing Dachshund History One Litter at a Time
Surely you have spent time on dog lovers sites and seen the phrase “to better the breed”. It’s “the” motto of any self respecting, reputable dog breeder. It’s “that thing” that wakes a good dog breeder up in the morning, and keeps her going forward after all the stresses of raising a good litter of puppies. To think that all the work you do will produce the best of the breed is an awe inspiring thought. But I wonder if they ever thought about how they affected dachshund evolution. Over the years, in my research, I have come across old photo’s that inspired this section of my article.
When I first became obsessed with the miniature dachshund, it didn’t take me long to realize that were a lot of different shapes and sizes. At first, I was under the very false impression that these were lower quality dachshunds than the fancy ones that I often saw at dog shows. What I came to realize was there are so many different shapes and sizes because of dachshund breeders living by that motto “to better the breed”. This is dachshund evolution and ancestor genetics at it’s best. Now, in my opinion, each dachshund breeder will have a particular size and shape that they are drawn to. I have a breeder friend that prefers her doxies lean and small, another breeder friend that would NEVER own a dachshund that weighed less than 11 pounds. And, yet another that prefers a square head. Whereas most modern day breeders are shooting for the sloped head that came from English Cream Dachshunds. I spent most of a whole day talking to breeder in Poland once about how square and level the back is on an American Dachshund. Whereas the Polish prefer a downward angle. Then there is always the dog show and it’s influence on our breed. Breeding what’s in fashion versus what has always been. I admire the growth and changes that have come from forward thinking dachshund breeders. I wonder how my work as a breeder will influence the future of the dachshund breed.
How the Dachshund Appearance has Changed Over the Years
These are some of the earliest dachshund pictures that I could get my hands on. Combined with current photo’s of our miniature dachshunds. To give you a better idea of how the dachshund appearance has changed throughout dachshund history. I want to point out here, that I LOVE each and every single dachshund and pass NO judgment on them because of their differences. Quite the opposite, I embrace the variety of the breed. There is a huge difference between an old fashioned dachshund and a dachshund with faults. No dachshund breeder should breed a dachshund with faults. To learn more about that, you can visit our dachshund standard. To sum it all up, this section is intended to explain why everyone’s dachshund does not look the same. Time and careful breeding have brought about a lot of changes.
This is my all time favorite old picture. This truly gives you a great idea about the dachshund used to look. This is from The Dog Owner’s Manual by Josephine Z. Rine. It was published in 1936. What I find most interesting about this picture is the second photo from the top. Now, while this photo has “miniature dachshund” beside it, you’ll find that it looks very little like our modern day miniature doxie. Through years of hard work and careful breeding, our miniature dachshund now shows the same stunning build as the standard dachshund. Leaving me to think that this old body and size might be closer to what people refer to as a toy dachshund. There is a lot of emphasis and bad press, so to speak, about breeders using the term toy dachshunds. Personally, I believe we should all stick to mini and standard, but I think the term “toy dachshund” has come to represent this small body type of olden days. I have also read in old books about German Dachshund fanciers classifying the smaller sizes as dwarf and rabbit. Further saying that a dwarf dachshund should be 7.7 pounds for females and 8.8 pounds for males. They also say that the chest circumference of one of these dwarfs would be 13.8 inches. And, that a Rabbit Dachshund would weigh no more than 7.7 pounds for both sexes and have a chest circumference of no more than 11.8 inches. Saying further that the Rabbit sized dachshund was used more for hunting rabbits and was preferred at sizes between 5-6 pounds. Now, that’s a small mini doxie! I think our standard is much easier followed, having a weight of no more than 11 pounds at one year of age and no mention of chest size. Still, I think it’s fascinating that just 75 years ago this book gave insight on how these tiny Dachshunds still pop up in our litters. And, that maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge breeders that have a preference for the tiny “rabbit” dachshunds.
This is Sugar. She was one of my first wirehaired dachshunds. If you look back at the old photo above, you will see that she is almost a replica of the wirehaired dachshund being shown in 1936. I think she’s lovely. However, in the picture below, you can see that the modern wirehaired dachshund has taken on a much smaller, sturdier and perhaps boxier build.
Above are examples of our longhaired dachshunds. Again, if you look to the old picture above, you will notice that the head structure and ear shape of these two fellas on the left are very similar to the longhaired dachshund from 1936. In the picture on the right, you can see an amazing example of modern day, championship bloodline longhaired dachshund. Personally, I think they are all beautiful! But, I did want to point out how much they have changed over the last 75 years.
These are three wonderful examples of the old fashioned, smaller type dachshund.
Pay close attention to the smaller head, thinner legs and petite frames of these pretty little girls.
These are great examples of the evolution of the dachshund breed. Note the well muscled chest and short legs. The beautiful “roman nose” of the short haired dachshund on the left. The sloping head of the beautiful black and cream dachshund on the right.