It's one thing to prepare for a dog; it's another thing to prepare for a Dachshund. Dachshunds have all the basic needs of a dog, but they come with a few of their own special quirks and considerations. If you have your heart set on owning a Dachsie — who can blame you after seeing a cutie like the pup shown in Figure 1-1? — you must be ready to handle a few extras. The following list presents the common characteristics of Dachshunds:
i Dachshunds have fragile backs. Because of their dwarfism (big dog, short legs), Dachshunds are genetically predisposed to have faulty spines, which can become injured when handled incorrectly, or sometimes for no apparent reason. Certain things can be hard on a Dachshund's back and can even result in a paralyzing disk rupture:
• Going up and down stairs
• Jumping off furniture
• Even running quickly around a sharp corner.
Get ready to carry your Dachshund up and down the stairs!
i Dachshunds love to jump. But because jumping is so hard on a Dachshund's back, you need to keep an eye on your Dachsie to keep him from jumping off high places like beds, couches, porches, and so on. Some people install ramps in their homes so their dogs can ascend and descend from high places without jarring their spines. (For more on making your home Dachshund-friendly, see Chapter 6.)
The name Dachshundis German for "badger dog." Although plenty of people pronounce it like dash-hound, the word is correctly pronounced docks-hoont.Yet, in Germany, the Dachshund isn't called a Dachshund at all. The dog is a Teckelor Dackel. (Back in the 19th century, the Dachshund was even called the Royal Teutonic Dog by some.)
The name Dachshund is somewhat misunderstood. Dachs means "badger" in German; hund doesn't, contrary to what you may think, mean "hound." It simply means "dog." Although Dachshunds are, to this day, classified in the Hound group according to the American Kennel Club, they could arguably fit just as well with the Terriers. Terrier means "earth dog," and going underground is what Dachshunds do best (well, one of the many things they do best). Dachshunds hunt by scent and have keen noses like their Hound brothers and sisters, but if you're on the other side of a door, that bark sounds an awful lot like a Terrier.
In any case, categories don't really matter. What matters is knowing that your Dachshund will display characteristics of the Hound andthe Terrier. You can call him anything you like! (How about "good dog"?)
i Dachshunds live to eat. Obesity puts further strain on a Dachshund's back — not to mention his heart and entire body. Cute and pleading as he may be, you must be prepared to keep your Dachshund's eating under control. No, your Dachshund shouldn't eat that quarter-pound burger with cheese, let alone too many extra dog treats!
Dachshunds (like all dogs) have fewer taste buds than humans, so the taste of food isn't as intense for them as it is for us. For this reason, dogs are more likely to eat just about anything, taste not withstanding.
i Dachshunds bark. Barking is part of their modus operandi. They were bred to hunt badgers or other small game underground (see Chapter 2). When the game was cornered, a Dachshund would bark to alert his human. Although you can train any dog not to bark excessively, Dachshunds bark pretty frequently. Get used to it, or don't get a Dachshund.
i Dachshunds are manipulative. They're cute, and they know it. They're clever, too. They can get you to do just about anything, unless you have rules and you stick to your guns. Your dog has to know that rules are rules and that what you say goes. If you're a big marshmallow when it comes to consistency and rule enforcement, you can't get angry at your dog for making his own rules. Somebody has to do it!
So, what would your Dachsie's rules be? Here's a good guess:
• I can do whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it.
• If I touch it, lick it, chew it, shred it, smell it, or see it, it's mine.
Unless those rules sound reasonable to you (Hint: They shouldn't!), prepare to accept your role as pack leader.
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Getting a new puppy is a fun and interesting time. You probably went to a breeder or pet store or maybe just saw an ad on the Internet or the newspaper, for puppies, and decided just to check it out. Before you knew it those little eyes and fluffy puppy fur had your heart melting and you were headed home with him or her in your arms.