The Dachshund is perhaps the most recognizable dog breed on the planet. For most people, it only takes a glimpse to associate that long, low-slung body and short legs with the “doxie,” aka the “weiner dog,” aka the “hotdog.”
But is this the only reason why the Dachshund is the 12th most popular purebred dog in America (out of nearly 200 dog breeds)? Could there perhaps be more to the story of this breed’s enduring popularity? Let’s find out!
Are Dachshunds Good Hunting Dogs?
Dachshunds make great hunting dogs. What even dachshund enthusiasts sometimes don’t realize is that the Dachshund breed was originally developed as a hunting dog with a very special mission – hunting burrowing mammals like badgers. In fact, their German breed name means “badger hound.” The Dachshund is one of the most prized hunting dogs throughout Europe.
According to North American Teckel Club (NATC) club directors, a well-bred, well-trained Dachshund can be indispensable in the following five areas:
- Hunting with falconry.
- Bringing wounded game to ground (even big game like deer).
- Hunting rabbits.
- Hunting woodchuck/groundhog.
- Hunting foxes, raccoons, opossums, badgers, squirrels and ground-dwelling game birds.
Let’s take a closer look at each category to learn how a Dachshund can assist people as an expert hunting and tracking dog.
How Dachshund Dogs Assist with Falconry Hunting
Dachshund dogs are now being paired with falcons alongside human hunters. This interesting mix may not seem intuitive at first glance. But the Dachshund, with their keen nose and low clearance, can help flush out prey so the falcons, with their keen eyesight and speed on the wing, can then bring it down.
What is so interesting here is how easily a Dachshund typically picks up on the team approach to hunting. Both the falcon and the Dachshund are very intelligent and independent, so each animal works well in a team setting when given some autonomy to do their jobs well.
As well, since the Dachshund is a very reward-driven dogs, the reward of being permitted to run free and sniff and flush prey makes them highly motivated hunting partners.
How a Dachshund Tracks Large & Small Downed Prey
Not only does the Dachshund do well in trio hunting teams, but they also pair well with other Dachshund hunting partners and other hunting dog breeds. This works especially well when the prey is larger or fiercer and it takes a team effort to reel it in. The Dachshund’s size and stature also makes this dog ideal for tracking through dense undergrowth without difficulty. The Dachshund is deployed on the trail of an animal and can track the animal to where it expired, helping the hunter to quickly and effectively find downed game.
How a Dachshund Hunts Small Quick Rabbits
Since the Dachshund is scarcely bigger than most wild rabbits, it often takes seeing a Dachshund in action to realize how optimal this pairing can be. In fact, in many cases rabbits are a young Dachshund’s training prey because, while they are quick, they are not dangerous and are lightweight to drag. Dachshunds can easily enter rabbit burrows to scare the rabbits out of hiding, into either traps placed at burrow entrances or to a waiting hunter.
How a Dachshund Hunts Woodchucks (Groundhogs)
Groundhogs in popular culture are sleepy burrowing mammals that can barely rouse themselves to figure out if spring is on its way. But a wild woodchuck cornered in its den or run to ground is no laughing matter. Because the woodchuck burrows can be narrow, many hunters choose a smaller Dachshund dog to train for this type of hunting. Much like using Dachshunds to hunt rabbits, Dachshunds are released into perspective burrows to chase woodchucks into waiting traps placed at the burrow entrances or to waiting hunters.
How a Dachshund Hunts Small Ground-Dwelling Mammals & Birds
The Dachshund is well situated to hunt fox and other small ground-dwelling mammals and birds. These dogs can even be trained to do night hunting for nocturnal mammals like opossum. Here, the size of the Dachshund can make a big difference in hunting success and safety. A smaller Dachshund will fare well at tracking and flushing. A larger Dachshund will have the advantage in confronting grounded prey without bearing too great a risk of serious injury. This is another area where hunting several Dachshund dogs in a team can make sense.
Traits That Make the Dachshund a Great Hunting Dog
Experienced human hunters pick their canine hunting partners for breed personality traits over looks. Happily, the adorable Dachshund can deliver on both counts. But underneath that cute and compact exterior lies the heart of a warrior. The Dachshund as a breed (particularly wire-haired Dachshunds) makes a great hunting companion because they tend to have these traits:
- Adrenaline junkies (they love a good chase).
- “No fear” is the Dachshund’s motto in hunting and in life.
- Incredible stamina despite those short legs.
- High pain threshold.
- Their keen noses are naturally close to the ground!
- They stay on task no matter what (sometimes to their own detriment).
- Protective water-resistant coat.
- Floppy ears protect ears and eyes from damage.
- Sturdy yet lightweight, muscular bodies.
- Compact hunting partners to take along for extended hunts.
Plus, the Dachshund does not seem to be aware that they are small dogs. Many anecdotes describe a Dachshund tackling and dragging downed prey three or four times their size without any qualms whatsoever.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Dachshund Dog & Hunting
Because the Dachshund has acquired a reputation as a popular pet dog, many modern dog lovers do not even realize that hunting quite literally runs in this breed’s blood. In fact, dog trials and scent tracking are popular canine sports in which the Dachshund excels.
These frequently asked questions will help you consider whether your Dachshund might enjoy training for the hunt.
Doesn’t the Dachshund breed have a history of bad backs?
The Dachshund is known to suffer from genetic back problems, in particular issues with intervertebral discs. In some ways, this just comes with the territory when a dog has such a long back and a tendency to enjoy running and jumping. However, it is possible to control for back problems by carefully examining the lineage of the puppy’s dam and sire to screen out known issues. Carefully monitoring the Dachshund’s diet and providing proper exercise from an early age is another way to reduce the likelihood of back or disc problems later in life.
What about that famous Dachshund stubbornness?
The Dachshund typically doesn’t score very high on the types of intelligence tests that favor quickly mastering and reliably repeating common tricks and commands. This is because the Dachshund is a breed that has been specifically developed to partner with humans from a place of some independence. Where a Dachshund will excel is in the exact type of tenacity needed to chase prey until the prey is trapped and cornered or can simply run no more. So that famous Dachshund stubbornness that makes this breed somewhat problematic as a couch potato pet is a mighty asset in hunting scenarios.
How early can a Dachshund puppy be trained to hunt?
It may be hard to believe, but some hunters are even insistent upon starting young puppies out learning the ropes of hunting while they are still in the womb! How is this possible? The hunter will run the pregnant dam. However, once the puppies are born, it is important to ensure they have received all of their vaccinations and pest treatments before being permitted to start training in the great outdoors. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) this can mean waiting until your Dachshund puppy is 16 weeks of age or older before starting to train in earnest.
Can an older Dachshund still learn to hunt?
Interestingly, many hunters who work with the Dachshund breed say that age doesn’t matter so long as the dog in question is healthy in every way and fit to run and maneuver and hunt. In some cases, a young Dachshund puppy may excel from the start and peter out later in life. In other cases, a puppy may seem to not grasp the concept until adulthood.
Overall, as long as your Dachshund adult dog seems healthy in every way, there is no reason why an older dog cannot be trained to enjoy hunting. When in doubt, always ask your canine veterinarian to do a health and spinal exam to rule out any restrictions against hunting.
The Dachshund has a breed history that extends back in time several hundred years. With their rough and ready coats, loud and resonant barks, study and compact bodies and fiery temperament, the Dachshund seems tailor-made for hunting, and indeed this dog is!
In fact, the Dachshund has been known to take down even the notoriously fearsome wild boar in team hunting. With the right approach and consistent, well-rounded training, a Dachshund can make an excellent hunting companion.