Meet Maree and Daphne the Miniature Dachshund, aged 3 years.

About the breed

Whilst they are a long backed, short legged dog of diminutive height, the Miniature Dachshund is still muscular and powerfully built with a deep, broad chest and well-developed forelegs. The breed can be directly traced back to the 15th century in Germany and were exported to Great Britain with Prince Albert and became popular in Britain and America throughout the 19th century. However, Dachshund type dogs have appeared in ancient Egyptian and Mexican art and remains found with shipwreck remnants in Italy, dating back to the 1st century AD.

Why did you choose this particular breed?

My parents had one and she was nuts but incredibly pretty and lovable.

When my partner Ross and I decided to take the next step in our relationship and have a DB (dog-baby), I did lots of research – looking for a dog that liked exercise but wouldn’t fret too much if we missed a day. And, we wanted a companion dog that could fit with our inner city urban lives.

Our considerations Must love being inside with us. Non destructive. Non smelly (she didn’t smell at all until we started adding raw kangaroo to her diet in addition to premium dry food).

  • Friendly, not a barker (she has lived in the two most densely populated suburbs in Melbourne with us – Elwood and Richmond). We discouraged barking – and did not yell at her – they can be quite a vocal breed.
  • Low shedding. She has shed since she was about 1yo, but short black hair isn’t much of a problem.
  • Portable. Good traveler. Must be able to fit easily into car, not wreck the leather and happily spend a day on the road with me.

Is their personality/behaviour in line with what people may associate with the breed?

She can be quite aloof with strangers and completely blank them at the dog park. Everyone stops us to pat her, but she is much more interested in other dogs than humans. Definitely not a people pleaser 😉

Being a mini hound, people get a shock when they hear her hound’s voice – she has a big deep bark. Many a terrified courier has heard her carrying on behind our front door, guarding the threshold (wooden floors, high ceilings = great amplification too), only to crack up laughing when the door opens to reveal our tiny hound (usually wearing a bright coat or fleecy pyjamas).

She has a sense of humour and knows exactly how to wind us up (stealing socks & running up and down the hallway until I come to investigate). Climbing up on the outdoor furniture and looking in the window when I lock her outside.

Any Tips for someone considering getting this breed?

They hate the cold. They like to tunnel under a blanket to sleep, even in summer. Daphne wags her tail when I get out her pj’s or her coat.

Not ideal with young children, and especially not young boys. Kids need to be taught not to roughhouse with the dog as it is easy to hurt them, especially their long backs.

Not great alone. Suffers from isolation anxiety and can be prone to separation anxiety. Daphne gets tense as soon as I touch my handbag or put on heels or perfume and starts guarding the front door and showing signs of anxiety. She pines when I am away. And has a daily 2 hour vigil by the front door waiting for my partner to come home from work.

Suits someone at home a lot or who can take dog out with them.

Have to be very strict with weighing food and with what you feed your sausage. They are little scavengers and being so close to the ground they miss NOTHING on a walk! They are prone to easy weight gain which is a danger to their back health. Grain free is best and no bones with marrow (too rich for them) and grains can predispose them to pancreatitis.

We scrape soft marrow out and only let her have bones with hard marrow for an hour or two and then seal in ziplock bag and keep the rest in freezer until the next time. She only gets them once in a while.

To keep their backs healthy keep your sausage slim and fit. They should have a defined “waist” viewed from all angles. No stairs and no jumping down from a height (very difficult to stop them jumping down from the bed). Some owners install ramps or have portable ramps by the bed or the couch.

Buy from a reputable breeder.  Bad breeding = too short legs: too long back ratio. Increases likelihood of back issues (typically age 6-8). Leg: back ratio should be less than 1:2 ie: length of back (from whither to rump) should be shorter than 2x leg length from ground to whither. Read up on IVDD.
OR
Also be aware of the perils of “designer colours” like Dapple.
Bad breeding = Dapple x Dapple (“double dapple”) – puppies are fraught with inbreeding issues especially eye degeneration.

How interested/good at training or obedience?

Be strict from Day 1 about who is the Top Dog. These pooches are very wilful and can be quite disobedient. However they are also smart and highly food motivated, so quite easy to train if they can be bothered. The Recall has been the hardest thing. She often pretends not to know us if we ask her to come to us before she’s ready to come home. A clever dog trainer called Lara Shannon helped us with this issue.

Any tricks, skills or community work?

I would love to take her to a retirement village on a regular basis – a lot of old people relate to this breed. And Daphne likes old people.

She has been very easy to train. She knows how to play Hide & Seek – I tell her where to wait and she has to find me. She is not very good at this game, but very enthusiastic – especially as she gets a treat for finding me. She absolutely loves this game and gets very excited when we play it.

She also knows commands – Roll over (both ways). Shake hands. Sit. Drop. Play dead (“Bang!”). Stay. Wait (for food). Wait (before coming inside, getting out of car, going through gates etc).