Doxies are an inherently puzzling breed. For example, you might be wondering, why are dachshunds long and short-legged, and is this intentional? What’s more, does it have any major health consequences for this breed? And how did the dachshund’s breeders even accomplish this feat? We’ll try to shed some light on these questions below and give you an idea as to why dachshunds look the way they do, what you should keep in mind, and why this breed is the phenomenal hunter many people fail to view it as.
Why Are Dachshunds Long?
They aren’t, technically. Instead, it’s more accurate to say that dachshunds are short-legged. If a standard dachshund had longer legs, its back’s length would be more or less on par with that of other hound breeds. However, because the dachshund legs are so incredibly short, the dogs look a bit elongated.
This doesn’t really answer the question, of course. Whether we focus on the back’s length or the legs’ shortness, the question remains – why?
In short – because they were intentionally bred that way. Approximately six centuries ago, German dog breeders decided that having a shorter scent hound would be fantastic for chasing badgers into their own underground burrows. So, the breeders started selecting dogs from a few different breeds for a condition based on a gene mutation called chondrodysplasia. This mutation is essentially dwarfism as it’s characterized by shorter legs and a changed skeletal structure.
Learn more about: What Do Dachshunds Hunt & Amazing Hunting Past
Because the condition is rare, the German breeders had to mix dogs from multiple different scent hound and pinscher breeds – so much so that we don’t need all the ancestors of the modern dachshund. Thanks to all that mixing, however, the German breeders managed to ensure a large enough gene pool for their new short-legged hounds.
From there, the next step was to select dogs with as good health as possible. Dwarfism does have a few unfortunate health side effects, of course, so the German breeders had to go above and beyond to make sure that such health risks are bred out of this new breed as quickly as possible. And, to a very large extent, they succeeded.
What Health Risks Remain For The Dachshunds Because Of Their Unique Body Shape?
Pretty much the only main health risk that’s a direct consequence of the dachshund’s unique body type is Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). This back disease has a hereditary component in the sense that dogs whose parents have had IVDD are more likely to develop it as well.
However, the environmental factor is arguably more significant. That’s because, with the right care, even a dog that’s predisposed to develop IVDD can be spared that problem. And, vice versa, even if your dog doesn’t have that predisposition, poor care or an accident can easily lead to IVDD regardless.
Overall, about 25% of all dachshunds are believed to develop IVDD at one point in their life. Fortunately, the condition isn’t immediately life-threatening when treated adequately. Unfortunately, it still affects the dog’s quality of life and this 25% number is twice larger than it is for Beagles and even larger compared to most other breeds.
So, Why Are Dachshunds Long and Short and What Does This Mean?
Dachshunds are long and short because they were bred that way. These dogs are literally called “badger hounds” in German because the purpose of this breed was to follow badgers into their narrow underground burrows and flush them out. So, dachshunds were bred to have shorter legs and to be able to fit where other dogs could not.
Why do Dachshunds have short legs and long bodies?
In short – because they were bred from hound breeds with genetic dwarfism. To add some more details, said breeding of dwarfism features was done completely intentionally as it allowed dachshunds the ability to fit in the burrows of badgers and foxes, something other scent hound breeds couldn’t do. So, while “bred for dwarfism” sounds bad at first, it wasn’t done just for the heck of it. Furthermore, once enough dogs were bred, the German breeders started selecting for health too, eventually breeding out most of the unfortunate health side effects dwarfism had on the early dachshund dogs. Some risks still remain to this day, of course, such as the risk of back problems. By and large, however, the breeders’ efforts were successful.
What is the longest Dachshund in the world?
Settling on a single “longest” dachshund is difficult as many people claim whatever numbers they want online. Additionally, lots of people measure their dogs’ length from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail instead of the proper way for measuring a dachshund – from the base of the neck to the start of the tail. So, there are quite a few contenders for the “title”. The famous Hurricane Ike dachshund is one candidate for the top spot but there are some even more fantastical claims you can find online. Certain dachs owners go as far as to insist that their dogs are 5-feet long (~150 cm). For something like that to be true, they certainly count the tail and head. Even then, however, these dogs either are crossbreeds or the measurements are a bit off.
Why are Dachshunds tails so long?
Dog tails are known to serve as a sort of “steering wheel” that helps the dog take turns while running at high speeds. That’s the case with wild canines, felines, and many other high-speed land predators. Dachshunds are hardly sprinters, of course – instead, they hunt by tracking their prey from a far and meticulously chasing it down its burrow. So, for the breed to have such a long tail can seem like a “waste” or just an evolutionary leftover at first. Dachshund tails did serve a purpose while hunting, however – they acted as a sort of “handle” for the breeder to pull the dachshund out of the badger’s burrow. Of course, you shouldn’t take this as an excuse to pull your dog’s tail as it certainly won’t enjoy it.