The above is a painting by Arthur Wardle of two top-winning dachshunds from the early 1890′s.
The painting’s title is “Pterodactyl and Jackdaw.”
Now, those words both designate flying things, but in this case, they refer to these two dachshunds.
A description of both dogs can be found in Robert Leighton’s The Complete Book of the Dog (1933):
The Dachshund was first introduced to this country in sufficient numbers to merit notice in the early ‘sixties, and, speedily attracting notice by his quaint formation and undoubted sporting instincts, soon became a favourite. His rise has been rapid, although it must be acknowledged that since 1914 there has been an obvious check to his popularity. It must also be noticed that he has deteriorated in type, lost grit and sense, too, and is often a parody of the true sporting Dachshund of thirty years ago, when we had such outstanding good ones as Jackdaw and Pterodactyl.
Jackdaw was credited with being the most perfect Dachshund that had ever been seen in England. He was a black and tan, bred and owned by Mr. Harry Jones, of Ipswich. He was sired by Ch. Charkow, out of Wagtail, and born July 20, 1886. Through his dam he was descended from a famous bitch, Thusnelda, who was imported by Mr. Mudie in the early ‘eighties. She was a winner of high honours in Hanover. The name of Jackdaw figures in all the best pedigrees of to-day. Pterodactyl was born in 1888, and bred by Mr. Willink. He was in a measure an outcross from the standard type of the day, and his dam, whose pedigree is in dispute, was thought to have been imported. After passing through one or two hands he was purchased by Mr. Harry Jones, and speedily made a great name in the show ring and at the stud, and was eventually sold for a high price to Mr. Sidney Woodiwiss, who at that period had the largest kennel of Dachshunds in England. “Ptero,” as he was called, was a big, light red dog, with wonderful forequarters and great muscular development. He also possessed what is called a “punishing jaw ” and rather short ears, and looked a thorough “business” dog. He had an almost unbroken series of successes at shows in England, and became the favourite sire of his day and the fashionable colour (pg. 198-199).
If one looks at the two dogs juxtaposed to each other, one can see that Jackdaw is much shorter in the leg than Pterodactyl.
It should be of no surprise to read that he was of pure British breeding, for the British dog fancy always preferred a much shorter-legged dog than the Germans typically bred.
Pterodactyl, however, was much more of teckel-type, a longer-legged sort of dog that could be used to track wounded boars and deer, as well as dig out badgers and foxes and flush rabbits from cover.
The British also preferred smooth-coated dachshunds, which are actually the rarest type of dachshund in Germany. Most dachshunds in their native land are wire-haired and grizzle-colored.
But the British– and the entire English-speaking world– came to prefer smooth red dachshunds.
According to Leighton, Pterodactyl was to blame for this color’s popularity among British fanciers, and because American dog fanciers imported most of their dogs and ideologies from Britain, the red smooth dog likely became entrenched in the public conscious as being the “true” dachshund.
Ptero looks very much like the old dachshund that my dad’s family owned.
Huddles Sherman was very much a teckel. He could run rabbits with the beagles, and he had an advantage over the baying English dogs in that when the rabbits would take refuge in pipes and culverts, he could drive them out. And the chase could continue.
He could also blood trail a wounded deer as well as any dog, and he had the advantage of being small enough and slow enough for a person to follow him.
He developed a reputation as being a killer relatively early on his life. He took out a mink, which is not an easy task for any dog, and he rather famously killed an errant giant meat rabbit that some fool turned loose in the woods. The giant rabbit beat every beagle from mile around. Beagles do chase rabbits, but they really don’t know what to do when a giant rabbit attacks them.
However, dachshunds have not problem dealing with animals that want to fight, even if these animals are about the same size as they are.
The neighbor saw it happen. He said that he was sitting on the porch, when a red, black, and white blur came tearing around the yard and into the pasture. He didn’t have the best eyesight, so he really couldn’t make out what it was.
It ran by three or four times, then it disappeared into some brush at the edge of the pasture, where terrible squealing erupted. Then it stopped.
About a half hour later, he saw Huddles trotting around near the yard on his way to my grandparents’ house. The dog was bleeding from great scratches that were coming down the sides of his chest. He wondered what animal Huddles had tangled with, but then he began to put two and two together. He walked down to the brush pile where he had heard the squealing, and there he found the huge meat rabbit lying dead. The dachshund had killed the terror rabbit!
Unlike the reputation of his breed, he was very obedient and easily handled. He could be told not to bark,which certainly came in handy when he got sneaked into hotels.
He also slept with my dad every night, and when they got up in the morning, my grandmother fixed them both a breakfast of French toast.
That’s probably not the best thing for a dog to be eating, but when you’re an active dog like Huddles, you really don’t have to worry about gaining weight.
Huddles had several defects that were attributed to his conformation.
Because he was a smooth dachshund, he was regularly getting cut up in the briers when he went hunting with the beagles. The Germans had some sense when they began to prefer to use wire-haired dachshunds instead of the smooths. That wire coat is very good protection from thorny cover.
Huddles also issues with his vertebral discs, and when he “slipped a disc,” he could be out of commission for several weeks at a time. These disc issues are directly attributable to breeding for the long back and short legs, which make the spine quite unstable. The Germans always bred for a bit longer legged dog with a more stable spine, but Huddles was likely the descendant of many generations of British and American dachshund breeding, even though he was very similar to Pterodactyl in many other ways.
But whatever his faults, I think that if I had known him, I would have had a very different view of dachshunds. When Huddles died, he was replaced with a smooth miniature whose claim to fame was using her teeth to dominate me. I still get very nervous around small dachshunds even now.
Huddle’ss papers no longer exist. I believe they disappeared a long time ago, but he was an AKC-registered dog.
My guess is that if his pedigree could be traced back far enough, we’d find that prehistoric name.
No, the archosaurs called pterodactyls left no descendants on this earth, but that the red wiener dog with that was named after them clearly did.
And one of them may have been named Huddles Sherman.