What Were Dachshunds Originally Bred For? 3 Important Features 

Dachshunds have numerous interesting traits, the most notable being their short legs and narrow bodies. Temperament-wise, these dogs are daredevils with an above-average potential for aggression. Therefore, if you’re the curious type, you’ve probably wondered, “What were Dachshunds originally bred for?”

Dachshunds were originally bred to track and kill badgers. Their pack mentality and aggressive, curious, and bold temperaments gave them maximum chances of surviving hunts. Moreover, their short legs and narrow bodies allowed them to crawl into tunnels and flush out ground-burrowing animals.

Read on as we dive into the details of what the Dachshund dog was bred for. We will also analyze the breed’s traits and why they were imperative to ensuring it excelled in what it was bred to do.

Why Were Dachshunds Bred That Way?

Dachshunds were bred that way to ensure excellence at hunting badgers. Their short legs and long, narrow bodies allowed easy crawling into tight tunnels where ground-burrowing creatures hid. Dachsies are also recklessly courageous, independent, and combative to ensure they survive hunts.

The following are the three main Dachshund breeding features you can observe on your dog:

1. The Dachshund’s Physical Traits

Dachshunds were developed by cross-breeding various dog breeds, including the Bloodhound, Pinscher, and Basset Hound. These dogs go by several nicknames originating in Germany around the early 16th century. 

Fond names like wiener and sausage dog illustrate the breed’s oddly proportioned short legs and long, narrow body.

Dachshunds are long and low to the ground for reasons beyond breeders wanting to develop a comically cute dog breed. They’re badger hunters, and in German, “Dach” means badger, and “hund” means dog.

A Dachshund’s lean body, elongated snout, and long whippy tail allow it to easily enter narrow underground dens and tunnels. The short legs are instrumental in helping the dog maintain balance and maneuver easily.

At this point, you’re probably wondering, why the long body?

The long body is another crucial physical trait that ensures maximum efficiency during hunts. Dachshunds have extended and well-developed ribcages for three main reasons. They include:

  1. To protect vital internal organs from punctures caused by roots or an agitated badger
  2. To provide adequate room for the heart and lungs
  3. To ensure maximum endurance when battling badgers in poorly ventilated underground tunnels

Find Out: What Is a Dapple Dachshund? The Ultimate Guide

2. The Dachshund’s Temperament

what were dachshunds originally bred for

Dachshunds are full of personality. Although they’re goofy and affectionate under most circumstances, don’t let their small statures fool you. These dogs are fierce hunters whose size contradicts their potential for aggressiveness.

Facing badgers head-on is not a task for the weak-hearted. Badgers are so aggressive that they have few natural enemies. Although they rarely attack humans, they can reign havoc on farms and ruin the crop.

The Germans developed the Dachshunds to engage in potentially deadly adventures of hunting and killing badgers. These short, stout, and powerful burrowing creatures live in tunnels over 50 meters long (164.04 feet). They have tough claws and thick coats and hiss, growl, and show their sharp teeth when threatened.

To concur over such a ferocious creature, Dachshunds were developed to have temperaments matching their jobs’ danger levels. They have the “perfect” mix of traits for the job and are brave, confident, independent, and highly aggressive.

3. The Dachshund’s Independent Nature

Dachshunds don’t always listen to instructions. They’re independent and strong-willed, traits that can drive you up the wall, especially during training.

Awkward as it may sound, their headstrong nature is not a genetic mistake!

Hunting badgers is a dangerous endeavor that risks a dog getting trapped in a tight tunnel while facing a formidable and aggressive opponent. Dachshunds were bred to depend on their wits and decide the best steps to take in different situations.

Moreover, Dachshunds have high work ethics and are naturally devoted to “getting the job done” without compromise. This increases their likelihood of disobeying commands, especially when specific orders get in their way of completing a job.

Generally, raising your voice or hopes when your pet disobeys is useless. You can never truly own a Dachshund; your dog will likely ignore you even if an order involves something it wants to do. 

Fortunately, these dogs offer lifelong affection and loyalty to those they perceive as pack members.

Also Read: Dachshund Pitbull Mix: The Ultimate Guide

Why Were Dachshunds Bred to Hunt Badgers?

Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers because their bodies could fit swiftly into underground tunnels. Also, their bravery, curiosity, and potential for aggression gave them excellent chances of surviving hunts. These dogs are also mouthy to alert hunters of successful hunts.

Dachshunds have high instinctive intelligence. These dogs are quick to do what they were bred to do. 

When on hunts, these scent hounds use their strong olfactory senses to sniff the unfamiliar and immediately go into digging mode. They use their powerful front claws to expand the openings of burrows and push their long, lean bodies down the hole to get the job done.

Here is a list of the valuable traits that made Dachsies excel at hunting badgers.

  • They have a strong prey drive and over 125 million scent receptors
  • Their short legs and lean bodies allow swift maneuvers in tunnels
  • They are brave, curious, intelligent, and maintain high work ethics
  • They have incredible stamina that enables them to fight badgers to the death
  • They are highly vocal and can bark long and hard to alert hunters of their catch

What Did Germans Use Dachshunds For?

Hairy dachshund dog

Initially, Germans used Dachshund dogs to hunt badgers and protect crops from ruin. They later started using the dogs to hunt badgers for their pelts or for badger-baiting. Dachshunds also proved helpful during the war, and Germans used them as mine detectors.

The following are the four main ways Germans used Dachshund dogs:

1. Hunting Badgers to Protect Their Crop

Dachshunds are scent hounds bred in the 15th century to hunt tunneling animals.

Badgers were a real menace because they were frightening to encounter and preferred living on farmland and close to human habitats. Although they’re likelier to flee than attack humans, they can cause damage to crops, agricultural lands, and even farm buildings.

2. Self-Entertainment in Badger-Baiting Blood Sports

Although badger baiting was outlawed in 1835 under the Cruelty to Animals Act, it was once a beloved blood sport. 

Germans bred Dachshunds for this sport because they perceived them as well-matched opponents against fierce badgers.

3. Hunting Badgers for Their Pelts

Badger pelts were in high demand centuries back and were used to make shaving brushes. Although most people hunted the burrowing creatures to stop them from becoming a crop nuisance, others trapped them commercially for their pelts.

Dachshunds came in handy to make the hunts easier and give hunters better chances of success.

4. Strategic Combat Assistants during World War II 

Dachshunds are brilliant and brave dogs with strong olfactory senses. These traits were helpful during World War II, and Germans involved the dogs in essential parts of many strategies. They trained Dachshunds for the battlefront, where the dogs amazed the masses with their incredible acts of courage, brilliance, and perseverance.

For instance, they maximized their extraordinary sense of smell and used them as mine detection dogs.

Two Dachshunds named Herman and Berta are credited for uncovering over 600 land mines throughout Europe. Thanks to their bravery, a  museum in Germany is dedicated to Dachshund dogs!

So, What Were Dachshunds Originally Bred For?

Dachshunds have oddly proportioned bodies and strong-spirited characters. Consequently, it’s natural to ask yourself, “What were Dachshunds originally bred for?” after spending a few moments with them.

The dogs were originally bred to hunt badgers. This explains why you may have noticed the dog going into digging mode when you let it run off into the yard. In a wrap, Dachshies are hunting dogs uniquely bred to hunt burrowing animals like badgers and bunnies.

Today, Dachshunds are better known as devoted furry companions. They have sat on the laps of the rich and famous, including Elizabeth Taylor, Pablo Picasso, Queen Victoria, and the Queen of Denmark, Queen Margarethe II.

Leave a Comment