In their native Germany, dachshunds are known as "badger dogs," bred to hunt this prey. If you aren't familiar with badgers, they are tough, vicious critters. That's why your little doxie isn't afraid to bark or take on dogs three times his size. Sometimes, you must protect him from himself.
Wiener dogs existed long before the invention of the hot dog, although sausages were probably around. Doxies were bred long and low so that they could dig out and slip into a badger burrow, so they could "fight to the death with the vicious badgers," according to the American Kennel Club. Modern doxies might not have any firsthand badger experience, but they're still very prey-driven. Squirrels, chipmunks and neighborhood cats can fill in for badgers in your doxie's mind. Digging is in his DNA, as is barking.
Your doxie is really a big dog in a small dog's body. While he's got the heart of a hunter, he also craves affection from his person. Many doxies are one-person dogs, or make it clear that they prefer a certain member of the family over others. While he's smart, he sometimes displays more courage than sense. He's a confident, determined dog, relentless in the pursuit of what he wants. That pursuit often pertains to food, but make sure he doesn't get overweight. Not only is excess fat unhealthy, it also puts a strain on his delicate back.
While your doxie will bark at bigger dogs, he also sounds like one of them. Doxies might be small, but they're not yappy. They're good watchdogs, and potential burglars might think you've got a Dobie rather than a doxie in your house if they can only hear him. On the downside, some doxies bark excessively. They're so alert, anything can set off the doxie alarm. That includes blowing leaves, birds at the feeder, cars driving by...you get the idea.
Because of their stubborn, independent streak, doxies aren't the easiest dogs to train. As Vetstreet points out, "obedient dachshund" is an oxymoron. You'll get there eventually with housebreaking, but it takes time and you might never reach 100 percent. Because doxies are such food hounds, treats are a great training incentive. While obedience isn't his strong suit, he'll enjoy getting back to his hunting nature in earthdog or field trials. Dachshunds do well as therapy dogs, bringing their badger dog charms to nursing homes and hospitals.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.