“Dachshund” is a German word meaning “badger dog,” and the breed’s German history goes back some 600 years. And, as the breed name suggests, the Dachshund was developed to enthusiastically dig his way into a badger den and dispatch its occupant.
The Dachshund’s long, low body was custom-made for this dirty subterranean work.
For a dog of any size, a badger is a formidable adversary, weighing anywhere from 25 to 40 pounds, with razor-sharp teeth and claws.
The cleverness, courage, perseverance, and strength that are hallmarks of today’s Dachshund were first bred into his long-ago ancestors to best equip them for battling a deadly foe.
In addition to the breed’s short, smooth coat, selective breeding produced types with wire coats for work in thorny brier patches, and long coats for cold climates.
Dachshunds of various sizes were bred to work on different kinds of quarry. Packs of Dachshunds, according to breed authorities, were often used on wild boar. By the late 1800s, the process of standardizing the breed according to size, coat, and color varieties was well underway.
The Dachshund has long been a national symbol of Germany, so closely associated with the fatherland that during World War I American fanciers took to calling them Liberty Hounds due to anti-German sentiment.
Admitted to the AKC Stud Book in 1885, their popularity in America was immediate and enduring.