If you stare into a dachshund’s eyes for even a second, you’ll quickly understand why the dog breed is almost impossible to resist. Not only do they have unbelievably cute faces but they also have the personality to back it up. Doxies are known for their independent spirit, curiosity, and nose (and ears) for mischief.
In honor of the dog breed that’s stolen millions of hearts across the world, we’ve rounded up 10 of the most unusual, intriguing, and even downright jaw-dropping dachshund facts that go back to the 17th century. You know you love dachshunds. Find out just how much history has loved them, too.
#1 They Have a Knack for Hunting (and a Nose for Badgers)
One of the most known facts about dachshunds is their namesake. In German, “dachs” means “badger” and “hund” means dog. As any dachshund owner will tell you, the breed is full of natural diggers and hunters—that’s because their comical bodies were specifically bred to allow them to crawl into burrows and hunt out badgers.
According to the American Kennel Club, dachshunds date all the way back to 17th century Germany, where they were masterful companions on hunts.1
#2 They’re Not Named After Hot Dogs
Although many affectionately refer to them as “wiener dogs,” it’s fair to ask: which came first, the doggy or the hot dog?
History proves that dachshunds date back at least 300 years. Hot dogs were also invented by Germans, but not in Germany. Legend has it that German immigrants to New York City started selling hot dogs on the street in the 1860s, and originally called their product the “Dachshund sausage” because of its uncanny resemblance to the dog. By the 1870s, the name was shortened to hot dog.2
Thanks to years of culinary history, dachshund owners have been providing the rest of us with adorable Halloween content every year, dressing their dogs up as a delectable, ketchup-and-mustard-covered treat.
#3 Dachshunds Went Through a Rebrand in WWII
When America was at war with Germany during World War II, it was forbidden to mention many German-derived names, including the beloved dachshund. This pup was particularly taboo as it was a symbol closely associated with Germany and used in propaganda. (Kaiser Wilhelm II’s fondness for the dog was particularly well-known.)
As dachshunds began to lose their popularity in America during the war, there was a campaign to rename the breed:
- The American Kennel Club tried introducing the literal German translation and calling them “badger dogs.”
- “Liberty pups” was a follow-up act when badger dogs didn’t take off the way they might have hoped.
Like the short-lived emergence of “freedom fries” in early ‘00s American culture, the term didn’t have much staying power. Today, beloved nicknames for dachshunds include doxies, wiener dogs, and best boys at the dog park.
#4 Germany May Have Had a Talking Dachshund
After World War I, German scientists claimed that they had taught dachshunds to read, spell, and communicate telepathically. The Germans developed a government program called Hundesprechschule Asra to delve further into the possibility of training the dogs, which they claimed were as smart as humans.3
One dog who belonged to the program was named Kurwenal, who went on tour showing off his ability to “speak.” His owner had trained him to respond with different barks for different letters, which allowed Kurwenal to speak with humans. At one point, the dog even had his own biographer who followed him around, documenting every single detail of his day. (Although the dog was a bona fido star around Germany, many suspected that he wasn’t communicating as much as he was following commands from his owners.)
However, there are reports that right before his death, Kurwenal barked out, “I am not afraid of dying; dogs have souls and they are like the souls of men.” Following his death, the dachshund was given a proper burial in the garden of his owner’s home.
#5 Dachshunds Were a Mascot at the Olympics
When the 1972 Olympics were held in Munich, Germany, the International Olympic Committee decided that it would nominate a mascot for the games for the first time ever. And what better way to honor the games in Germany than choosing the country’s most beloved dog as the mascot?
The adorable figure was named “Waldi.”
Waldi had a massive influence on the games that year, in more ways than one:
- There was a collectible plush Olympic dog whose body was striped with the colors of the Olympic Rings.4
- The Olympic marathon route was in the shape of the dog, with the route starting at the mascot’s neck and contestants running around counterclockwise.
- A dog named Cherie von Birkenhof became Waldi’s real-life alter ego after the president of the Munich Games Organising Committee gifted the dog to the president of the International Sports Press Association at the time.
#6 Dachshunds Were Early Clones
A dachshund named Winnie became famous around the world in 2014, after becoming the first dog in the UK to be successfully cloned. Scientists took a bit of skin from Winnie and then, via a surrogate mother, “Mini Winnie” was born.
The clone is 12 years younger than the original Winnie and came about after the owner won a contest sponsored by a South Korean biotech company. Although the cloned dog was born in Seoul, Mini Winnie went home to the UK and four years later, gave birth to two healthy puppies.5
#7 There Are Dachshund Races
The tradition likely dates back to 1970s Austria but has grown to become a worldwide sensation. Dachshund races are among the most amusing dog athletic events to watch.
In 1995, the Wienerschnitzel wiener Nationals competition began. And the legacy continues to this day. The rules are simple: show up with your dachshund and put them at the starting line. The fastest wiener dog wins.6
Owners are allowed to use dachshund toys or treats to entice their dog to finish the race, but the dogs have to run across the racetrack by themselves. The fastest dog each year takes home a cash prize (and, of course, bragging rights for being the fastest weenie).
#8 Dachshunds Have Superpowers
Those adorable, floppy ears aren’t just for show, and the dachshund’s most identifiable features aren’t a consequence of chance. As we’ve already told you, they were specifically bred as hunting dogs and each part of their body contributes to the hunt:
- Their ears drag along the ground and help pick up scents, which are then quickly transferred to the nose for keen analysis.
- The dog’s long, curved tail ensured that the dog could still be seen by its owner in tall grass. Additionally, if a doxie dug himself too deep into a badger burrow, their owner could reach into the hole and pull the dog out by the tail.
- Their short legs also keep their nose, quite literally, to the ground for better scent tracking.
- Even their personalities play a part in their success. Dachshunds are fearless and will get into a fight with a badger, even if it’s their equal in size. It’s just a plus that they look so cute doing it.
#9 They’re Becoming More and More Popular
Lately, it seems like the world can’t get enough of the endearing wiener dogs. They have now become the tenth most popular of all dog breeds in America, according to the American Kennel Club.7 But this isn’t the first time that dachshunds have quickly topped the charts.
From 1930 to 1940, dachshunds went from the 28th most popular breed in America to the sixth. You know what they say: everything that goes around comes back around again (even if that thing is a dachshund chasing its own tail).
If you are thinking of getting a dachshund due to their rise in popularity, there are other important things you should know about the breed. If you are wondering, how long do dachshunds live, we have the answer for you. Or if you are wanting to be knowledgeable about common dachshund health issues so that you can keep your pup happy and healthy we also can help guide you there.
#10 Celebrities Love Doxies As Much As the Rest of Us
Only the stoniest of hearts can resist the charming personality and exaggerated shape of the dachshund. Not even celebrities are immune to their charm. Here are just a few famous dachshund owners:
- In old Hollywood, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard had a doxie named Commissioner running around the house (who, apparently, was not impressed with Gable).
- E.B. White, the author of “Charlotte’s Web,” was so besotted with his pet dachshunds that he even wrote about them, saying, “Being the owner of dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot. Some day, if I ever get a chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the dachshund and why he can’t be trained and shouldn’t be.”8
- Andy Warhol had a dachshund named Archie, who was even the subject of a painting.
- Pablo Picasso also fell prey to the charms of a dachshund named Lump.
- Contemporary celebrities like Ashley Olsen, Fergie, Jack Black, Adele, and Kirsten Dunst are also fans of the wiener dog.
But really, who isn’t?
And Finally, They Deserve the Absolute Best Care, Including Food
There’s a lot that’s special about dachshunds, from their bodies to their unique personalities. So it only makes sense that dachshunds should dine on a diet specially formulated for their one-of-a-kind lifestyles.
If you’re lucky enough to have a doxie prancing around your home, feed them a formula that will address their unique needs and provide nutrients for great bone and immunity health. Check out BARK’s food for dachshunds—plus, get 25% off with code 25FOOD and free shipping!
- American Kennel Club. Things You Didn’t Know About the Dachshund. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/things-you-didnt-know-about-the-dachshund/
- The Culture Trip. A Brief History of the Hot Dog. https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/articles/a-brief-history-of-the-hot-dog/
- Mental Floss. 9 Short Facts About Dachshunds. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/63006/9-spunky-facts-about-dachshunds
- Olympics. Munich 1972, The Mascot. https://olympics.com/en/olympic-games/munich-1972/mascot
- Daily Mail. Britain’s first cloned dog Minnie Winnie – the duplicated dachshund conceived in South Korean lab after her owner won a competition – gives birth to a pair of healthy puppies. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6414465/First-cloned-dog-UK-Minnie-Winnie-gives-birth-two-dachshund-puppies.html
- Wienerschnitzel. Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals. https://www.wienerschnitzel.com/community/wiener-nationals/
- American Kennel Club. The Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2020. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/the-most-popular-dog-breeds-of-2020/
- Goodreads. E.B. White on Dogs. https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/23505643-e-b-white-on-dogs