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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbit Dachshund’

I was at a family reunion on Sunday, and I met this 11-week-old miniature dachshund named Abby. She belongs to my cousin Jeannie Wade, who also happens to be my parents’ boss.

Abby decided the best thing to do was dig some holes. It is amazing how into it she got, and for such a small dog, she dug some pretty deep holes.

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My grandmother's red miniature dachshund was a biter.

My grandmother's red miniature dachshund was a biter.

There are certain breeds of dogs that are forever etched in my memory.

Among these is a red miniature smooth-coated dachshund (Teckel, Dackel– I’ll explain the distinction later). I should mention here that I’m of German-American extraction, and one of the signs my family’s ethnic pride was to get one of these dogs.

The first of these lived with my grandparents while my father and uncle were adolescents to young adults. He was a standard dachshund with a smooth coat. Apparently, he was an oddity among standard dachshunds with smooth coats because he had all the hunting instincts and ability of the wire-haired hunting dachshund of Germany. He was a superb rabbit hunter, and he could game trail shot large game, just as his ancestors were used in the old country. He was a clever dog. Highly trainable for a sort of hound/terrier.

When he passed on, he was replaced with another red smooth-haired dachshund. However, this dog was treated like a small baby. She was only a few inches long when she arrived. She was also clever, but she used it to devious ends. She also was able to use her teeth to get what she wanted, and by the time she was two, she was biting people regularly. My grandmother never bothered to train her. She just coddled her little baby.

This was the only dog to have ever bitten me, and as a result, I have a few issues with red dachshunds, especially little ones with smooth coats. This dog bit me on more than one occasion, so you know how much this could affect my perception of this breed. I’m sure they’re not all nasty little red Nazi dogs, but I’m still unable to get the image out of my mind.

However, I happen to be somewhat of an admirer of the working Dachshund, which is still used in Germany. It is not called a Dachshund, which means “badger dog.” This term is a generic phrase that can mean the breed we call the Dachshund and to mean the two breeds of Dachsbrache (badger hound) that still exist in the Old Country (the Westphalian and the Alpine). The Westphalian is very rare, although its close cousin, the Drever, is still known in Sweden. The Alpine dog still exists in limited numbers.

The breed we call the Dachshund is known as the Dackel, which is probably a diminutive of the word for Dachsbracke. The Dackel was originally a smooth-haired dog, probably derived from crossing pinschers (German pseudo-terriers) with  the Dachsbracke. This dog was then crossed with the old German spaniel and English cocker spaniels to create the long-haired variety. And crosses griffon bassets, schnauzers, poodles, and maybe Dandie Dinmonts created the wire-haired variety, which is much more preferred as a working dog. All of these dogs are called Dackel, until they pass a scent trailing test. At that point the dogs become Teckel (I know them more as Teckel than Dackel for some reason. Perhaps it is  the dialect of German I’m more familiar with).

In the US and UK, the dachshund comes in two sizes: a miniature and a standard. Standards, according the AKC, run from 16 to 32 pounds (quite a range), while the miniatures are all under 11 pounds. The reason why there is such a gap is probably to prevent cross-breeding of sizes. In the US, the coat types are typically never interbred, even though they are members of the same breed.

In Germany (and the FCI standard), there are three sizes: Standard/Normalschlag, Dwarf/Zwerg, and Rabbit/Kaninchen. The Standard dog has a chest circumference of 35 cm. The Dwarf variety has a chest circumference of 30-35 cm. The Rabbit variety has a chest circumference up to 30 cm.

The reason why the chest is so important is that it determines which game the dog can be used against. The Normalschlag/Standard can be used on wild boar, foxes, and badgers, while the little Rabbit dachshund is a small game hunter and ratter. It is a specially designed dog for flushing rabbits. The ideal weight for one of these little ones is about 7 pounds.

My grandmother’s little terror weighed 7 pounds. If only my grandparents had known that the little ones are also designed for work, they might have worked with their little biter and made her into a great hunting dog. Then maybe she wouldn’t have decided to hunt everyone in the neighborhood.

P.S. I prefer not to type umlauts. Keep the comments in “Die Englische Sprache.”

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