A Dog with a Purpose

The dachshund is one of the world's most distinctive dog breeds. The dachsie's elongated body, short legs, and sleek hound head are unmistakable. This is one breed whose original purpose played a key role in literally shaping the dog physically and also continues to affect its character today.

In Germany, the literal translation of dachshund is badger dog (Dachs + Hund). The first mention of a badger-hunting dog was made in the 1500s. What's important to realize is that the dachshund of the 1500s was not a purebred. A dog known as a dachshund was simply a dog — of any breeding — with the courage and tenacity to go to ground and corner one of the earth's vilest creatures: the badger. Coat color, patterning, lineage — none of this mattered to the individual who was hunting badgers. The hunter simply wanted the best possible dog for the job, so he would breed — or search out puppies from the breeding of — two dogs that performed this job well.

Through this manner of selective breeding, the characteristics of the ideal badger dog were effectively created. This ideal was a short-legged, longer-bodied dog with the ability to track game, fit into a badger's den, and then corner and hold the badger until the hunter could dig down to finish it off.

What other names are there for this so-called badger dog?

The dachshund goes by many names: dachsie, doxie, dox, wiener dog, hot dog, long dog, and carpet shark, to name a few. In Germany, there's dachshund, dachsel, dackel, and teckel.

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