Illustrations dating from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries show badgers hunted by dogs with elongated bodies, short legs, and hound-type ears--some with the bent front legs of the Basset, some with the heads of terriers, and some with indications of smooth and long coats. It is well to consider that these illustrations were made before the days of photography, that artists capable of depicting dogs with anatomical fidelity have always been rare, and that woodcuts do not lend themselves to fine reproductions of coat distinctions. At best, the pictures and descriptive words can be interpreted with certainty only as defining functions of the dogs used on badger.
The preponderance of available evidence indicates that smooth and longhaired coats were separated by selective breeding long prior to recorded registrations; whereas within such recorded history, the wirehaired coat was produced for protection against briar and thorn by crossing in harsh, wiry terrier coats and then breeding out incompatible characteristics of conformation. Early in the 17th century the name Dachshund became the designation of a breed type with smooth and longhaired coat varieties, and since 1890 wirehairs have been registered as the third variety. German breeders early learned that crossing between longhairs and either smooths or wirehairs did more harm than good, and barred such crosses from registration. During the early decades of wirehairs when breeding stock was comparatively rare, crosses with smooths were permitted. Now, with sufficient breeding stock within each of the three varieties to provide any desired characteristics, there is no advantage in coat crossing, with inevitable production of intermediate coats conforming to neither coat standard, and uncertainty of coat texture for several generations.
The badger was a formidable 25 to 40 pound adversary. Strength and stamina, as well as keenness and courage above and below ground, were required of badger dogs. Weights of 30 to 35 pounds were not uncommon. Such Dachshunds in packs also were serviceable against wild boar. With this start the breed was adapted to hunt other game. A smaller 16 to 22 pound Dachshund proved effective against foxes and to trail wounded deer, and this size has become best known in this country. Still smaller 12-pound Dachshunds were used on stoat and hare. In the first quarter of the 20th century, for bolting cottontail rabbits, miniatures with adult weights under five pounds and chest girths under 12 inches, but with plenty of hunting spirit, were produced.
Before the German Dachshund or Deutscher Teckelklub was found in 1888, "racial characteristics," or a standard for the breed had been set up in 1879, and German registration of Dachshunds was included (not always with complete generation data or systematic coat notations) in a general all-breed stud book, the Deutscher Hunde-Stammbuch. Its first volume, in 1840, recorded 54 Dachshunds and the names of several subsequently prominent breeders, and publication continued until it was officially terminated in 1935. The Gebrauchsteckel-Klubs, or hunting Dachshund associations, kept separate stud books, in which were recorded only dogs of demonstrated hunting accomplishment, with scant attention to coat or conformation. From early volumes of the Deutscher Teckelklub stud book, first published in 1890, despite meager correlation with older records, pedigrees have been extended back as far as 1860 and 1859. Stud books maintained by clubs devoted to wirehairs, longhairs, and miniatures have waxed and waned. Not until 1915 did the coat-identifying initials K for Kurzhaar or smooth, R for Rauhhaar or wirehair, and L for Langhaar or longhair, become integral components of the Teckelklub registration numbers. Later Z was added to distinguish Zwerg and Kaninchentechel, or miniatures, by re-registration after one year on official certification of eligible size. It can be recommended to American Dachshund breeders of longhairs and wirehairs to incorporate the initials L and W, respectively, in names submitted to the AKC for registration of Dachshunds of these coats.
The management of the breed in Germany, as well as the stud books, had been divided. The Teckelklub managed the bench shows, while the Gebrauchsteckel-Klubs conducted organized hunting activities. In 1935, the nationalized consolidation of all German Dachshund clubs as the Fachschaft Dachshunde im Reichsverband fur das Deutsche Hundewesen (FD-RDG) unified the breed stud books and coordinated the conduct of bench shows with natural-hunting field trials.
Since World War II, management of the Dachshund breed in Germany has reverted to the Deutscher Teckelklub (whose registrations are accepted by the AKC) and the Gebrauchsteckelklub. The balance of breeding for hunting and symmetry which advanced the breed for 25 years before the war was altered after the war to stress hunting, with a more terrier-like conformation, whereas in this country the prewar objectives have continued to direct the breed.
Importation of Dachshunds into this country antedates the earliest American dog shows of stud books; eleven were included in AKC Stud Book, Volume II in 1885. Our dogs have found little employment in organized hunting, as we lack the badger and wild boar and do not hunt deer with dogs, nor foxes with pick and shovel. The true character and conformation of the breed have been encouraged by frequent importation of German hunting strains; and to encourage hunting capacity and exemplary conformation and temperament, field trials under AKC rules were instituted in 1935.
The advance of the breed in this country has not been without reverses. Fostered since 1895 by the Dachshund Club of America, by 1913 and 1914 it had gained a place among the ten most numerous breeds at the Westminster Kennel Club shows--to fall in the postwar years to a mere dozen and temporarily translate its name to "badger dog."
After World War I, with replenished breeding stock, there were noteworthy gains. From 1930 to 1940, Dachshunds advanced from 28th to sixth rank among American registrations, and maintained this average rank through World War II by constructive public relations. Since that time, as the all-breed registration totals have continued to increase year by year, the Dachshund has maintained an important place in the proportionate number of dogs registered and exhibited in the ring.
It is unlikely that one American Dachshund in a thousand is used to hunt, but to understand the functional origin and development of the breed helps us to appreciate its elegant, streamlined proportions, and gives significance to the application of the breed standard.
The medium-sized, smooth-haired Dachshund, which predominates in this country in small enough to live in house or apartment, yet large enough for street, suburb, or country. Its short legs insure maximum exercise per mile. Its odorless, sleek, dark, short coat requires no plucking, trimming, brushing, combing, oiling, and no bathing except to remove accidental dirt. Outdoors the Dachshund is hardy, vigorous, and tireless; indoors he is affectionate and responsive, companionable in restful mood, hilarious in play, alert in announcing strangers. The breed offers a range of three coat varieties; standard and miniature sizes; red and black-and-tan and a number of other colors.