In This Chapter
^ Deciding how much dog you need ^ Picking out your favorite coat ^ Settling on a color and pattern ^ Choosing a boy or a girl (or boy and girl)
ne of the great things about bringing home a Dachshund is that you have so many options: Big or small; longhaired, short-haired, or wirehaired; and plenty of colors to choose from, too. Do you want a boy or a girl? A puppy or an older dog? You have some important choices ahead of you, and you need to think about some issues and weigh some options before you can choose the Dachsie that best suits your life. This chapter will help you consider your options. I also help shed some light on which Dachshund differences don't really make any, well, difference, as well as those options that can make all the difference in the world.
The bottom line when choosing your new family member? All the cosmetic considerations don't really matter that much (assuming you aren't planning on breeding/showing your dog). Health and temperament, health and temperament, health and temperament are what matter. Make that your mantra as you visit breeders and meet puppies and their parents (see Chapter 4). The best dogs have two healthy parents — better yet, four healthy grandparents as well. They're raised in a family home by a breeder who makes an effort to socialize them. They're given proper medical care from the beginning of their lives and are bred to exhibit the classic Dachshund personality: fun, funny, feisty, fearless, and fantastic (see Chapter 2). Need I say more?
Size Matters (Or Does It?)
When it comes to Dachshunds, size does matter — at least in some ways. By North American standards, Dachshunds come in two sizes: Standard and Miniature, as shown in Figure 3-1. Dachshunds that fall right in between the Miniature and Standard weights are unofficially called tweenies by some. Sizes are divided according to weight, not height.
By European standards, Dachshunds come in three sizes: Standard, Miniature, and Rabbit; the Rabbits, the smallest size, are approximately equivalent to a Miniature Dachshund, and sizes are distinguished by chest circumference rather than weight.
But what difference does size really make? It depends. Standards and Minis were bred differently, and their personalities and needs, although similar, aren't interchangeable. Also, one size may fit your lifestyle better than another.
The following sections run down the differences between micro-and macro-wiener dogs (and those that fall somewhere in between). But before you dive into the details, take a minute to answer some questions to get a feel for which Dachshund size may best suit you.
Determining your size match before you get the details
Answering the following questions may help you decide which type of size to focus on in your search for a new pup:
1. When you imagine yourself bonding with your new Dachshund puppy, what qualities do you picture yourself treasuring most?
A. Energy, playfulness, and the Romp Factor.
B. The clowning, the hilarity of the big watchdog in a little package, and, of course, the Cute-as-a-Button Factor.
C. The combination of independent thinker and devoted companion.
2. The quality you're least looking forward to dealing with in your new Dachshund is
A. Shedding — you can't stand the thought of dog hair everywhere.
B. Barking — shrill noises really get to you.
3. The other members of your family include
B. One other adult.
C. Another dog and/or a cat.
4. You live
B. In an apartment.
C. In a house with a fenced backyard.
5. Your activity level is
A. Pretty high. You like to go on walks, and you like to keep moving. You wonder, "Can Dachshunds catch a Frisbee?"
B. Pretty low. You're housebound or can't move too quickly, for whatever reason. Or maybe you just don't like to move more than you have to!
C. About average. You plan to walk your dog every day, but you're no athlete.
6. Your house has
A. Plenty of high places — high couches, steep stairs, high beds, and so on.
B. Plenty of low and level places — futon beds and couches, for example, but no stairs.
C. Some high places and some low places, but the high places and steep stairs can be modified if necessary with ramps or some obstacles.
A. The costs associated with your Dachshund. You're willing to do what it takes, but you wonder, "How much is this going to run me, anyway?" (Check out Chapter 8 for some common Dachsie expenses.)
B. Accidentally injuring your Dachshund. "They look so delicate."
C. Training your Dachshund. You've heard the breed is pretty darned stubborn.
8. Above all, you're looking for
A. A playmate that can really play. "No wimpy, sissy dogs for me!"
B. A precious little lap dog to dote on and spoil.
C. A companion to be with you throughout your days and nights, sharing your life as much as possible.
Now, tally up how many As, Bs, and Cs you have. If you have mostly As, a Standard is probably the dog for you. Mostly Bs? Consider a Miniature. If your tally is heavy on the Cs, it probably doesn't matter what size you choose. Any size, including tweenies, will work for you, because you're just glad to have a Dachshund, period.
But each of the preceding questions brings up some specific issues, so you need to look closely at each size, one at a time. Pay particular attention to the size that interests you the most, according to the quiz. If size truly doesn't matter to you, read all three of the following sections to prepare for any type of dog may you end up with.
In general, your preference for a Standard or a Mini is largely a matter of personal taste, but if you aren't sure, visit several breeders and meet plenty of Dachsies. One size or the other will probably capture your heart.
If your main concern is to have a dog with the classic Dachshund personality — an independent and devoted Dachsie, a clown, a chow hound, a dog that's full of mischief and love — it really doesn't matter which size you choose. All sizes reflect the classic Dachshund personality. But other issues beyond personality may concern you. Read on to discover how other factors may impact your decision.
Kids and Dachshunds are made for each other — especially when the Dachshund is the more durable Standard size (Miniature Dachshunds can be too small and fragile for very young children). Encourage your children to take an active part in the care, socialization, and training of your Dachshund. Draw up a feeding schedule and let your kids measure out or prepare the dog food. Make walks a family affair. Look for local puppy- or dog-training courses for kids. If your child is a natural, he or she can even compete as a junior handler in a dog show. (Contact your local dog club or the AKC for info on how to become a junior handler. Chapter 19 contains the AKC's contact info.)
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Bark collars are a specific type of training tool that is ideal for dogs with a natural tendency to bark excessively, or more than usual for any reason. Bark collars are designed to provide negative reinforcement in reaction to the unwanted barking behavior. Over time, the dog will learn to avoid the behavior in order to avoid the negative reinforcement.