Who doesn’t love a wiener dog? These little sausages are low to the ground, long, and one of the cutest dogs around. But did you know the Dachshund was originally bred to be a hunting dog? It’s true. The name Dachshund in German literally means “badger dog.” Yes, these little wieners are hunting dogs. Yes, badgers were their intended prey. But we all know, these little dogs don’t hunt that much anymore. Instead, they’ve made a home in our hearts and on our laps. Let’s learn a bit more about the Dachshund and how hunting is part of their history.
A Bit About the Dachshund
Badgers were considered quite the pest back in the day. They were notorious for eating people’s crops and just stirring up lots of trouble. With these pesky creatures living in holes, having a dog that was able to flush them out was a necessity. That’s when the development of these dogs began. While the breed itself originated in the 1500s throughout Germany, the name Dachshund didn’t come along until the 1600s.
For a dog to stand up to a badger, it needed to be tough. That’s exactly what you have when referring to a Dachshund. These little dogs are brave and very intelligent. They are also scent hounds which makes their nose their biggest weapon when it comes to hunting. Over the years, hunters decided thanks to their skill, that these little dogs could hunt other prey. That’s when rabbits, prairie dogs, and squirrels were added to the list. This smaller prey could also be hunted by the miniature Dachshund without issues.
Do Dachshunds Still Hunt?
For the most part, Dachshunds have made the transition from a hunter to family pets. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still hunters out there who aren’t profiting off the abilities of these small dogs. Across Europe, hunting with Dachshunds is still quite popular. You’ll even find a few hunters here in the US who still put these brave little dogs to the test by using them for hunting badgers just as they were intended.
The wildest part about Dachshunds and their hunting capabilities is the fact they go underground after their prey. This is where the bravery mentioned above comes into play. This dog breed needed to pop into holes and meet badgers, who are quite vicious, head-on. It was dangerous for the dogs, but Dachshunds excelled at it.
Building a Hunter
When the Germans were developing a dog for hunting badgers, they knew certain criteria needed to be met. The dogs had to be low to the ground. Hence, the Dachshund’s short legs. Those legs also needed a slight curve to them. This allows them to push the dirt out of their way while they burrow through the hole in search of their prey. The shoulder and upper arm needed to be at the right angle as well. This gave the Dachshund enough power to dig through the holes without difficulty.
You may wonder why Dachshunds are so long. There’s a reason for that as well. A long ribcage was needed to hold the heart and lungs, which these dogs needed while underground. The dog’s organs were better protected not only from its prey but sticks or roots that could poke or harm them. The shape of the head and prominent bone structure also aided Dachshunds when it came to taking the blows dealt by the badger.
While there are many nicknames out there for Dachshunds, the look and shape of these little dogs will forever make them memorable. Now, after hearing more about their past and their hunting prowess, you can have a new respect for these little warriors. As hunters, the Dachshund is quite incredible. As pets, who could resist these cuties? If you have a Dachshund in your life, don’t be surprised the next time a squirrel or rabbit runs through the yard and it gives chase. Hunting is simply what they were made for.
Feature Image Credit: NORRIE3699, Shutterstock