Walkies with Dachshunds
The dachshund has truly won over our hearts, but its rise in popularity
means more reasons to be wary
Every dog has its day – and the distinctive dachshund, with its unmistakable silhouette, is Britain’s latest hot dog. Whether it’s in your local card shop or on your Instagram feed, there’s no escaping the diminutive breed.
Nearly 9,000 dachshunds were reportedly registered with the Kennel Club last year – a rise of 40 per cent in the last three years. Caroline Kisko of the Kennel Club thinks part of the resurgence is due to modern lifestyles. ‘It’s only speculative, but we can presume the popularity of small dogs is about practicality, because many people are living in towns or cities and are limited on space,’ she says. ‘We’ve also seen an increase in the popularity of specific small breeds such as French bulldogs, pugs and dachshunds, and that tends to be because these breeds feature in popular advertising campaigns.’
Dachshunds are classed in the ‘hound’ grouping and were historically used to hunt by scent and flush out burrowing animals classed as pests. Often associated with Germany, the breed’s popularity has fluctuated over the years, largely due to Anglo-German relations of the time. Queen Victoria was a fan, importing a dog called Deckel from Bavaria in the 1840s, but during the two world wars they were seen as unpatriotic and political cartoonists used images of them to ridicule Germany.
Today, the dachshund – whether standard or miniature, with its smooth, long or wiry coat – is the 16th most popular breed of dog in the UK. Celebrity owners include the singer Adele and actor Clint Eastwood; Crusoe, an internetfamous dachshund, has over three
million social media followers; and the worlds of fashion, gifts and home décor have fallen in love with the breed.
But of the thousands of registered dachshunds – often referred to as sausage dogs – many thousands more unregistered dogs are believed to be bred by unofficial breeders.
Dogs Trust recognises dachshunds as one of the most popular breeds to be smuggled into the country illegally, with the breed accounting for 26 per cent of those brought in through its Puppy Pilot project, an initiative working to track dogs illegally smuggled into the UK.
It’s feared demand could also lead to a rise in irresponsible breeding and an increase in health and behavioural problems. Caroline says: ‘We saw it with breeds like the Dalmatian after the release of 101 Dalmatians and the old English sheepdog, used in Dulux advertisements. At the time, people raised concerns about the temperament of those dogs because unscrupulous breeders aren’t worried about behavioural problems – but it’s a huge issue for the puppy’s owner.’
Though their elongated bodies are admired, dachshunds are predisposed to spinal problems related to their long-backed and short-legged conformation, says Hannah Baker of Dogs Trust. ‘Owners should consider the possible implications of this not least in terms of possible veterinary treatment that may be required, but also on the quality of their dog’s life,’ she adds. ‘There is potential for poor breeders to cannibalise on the growing demand for any breed of dog as the focus shifts from producing healthy puppies to merely creating a production line of dogs, often with no concern for health and wellbeing.’
People are urged to adopt instead of buying, or to purchase dogs from reliable sources such as the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme. Hannah summarises: ‘There is no denying the cutefactor that inevitably influences people’s choices. However, it’s important that a decision to get a dog, and which breed to choose, is based on more than just face value.’
LEFT:Talk about cute... a puppy dachshund
ABOVE: Black and tan Miniature Dachshund