Der Dackel (dachshund) is a short-legged, long-bodied German dog breed belonging to the hound family. The standard size was bred to scent, chase, and flush out badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the miniature version was developed to hunt smaller prey such as rabbits. Some have theorized that its early roots go back to ancient Egypt, where engravings were made featuring short-legged hunting dogs – but in its modern incarnation, the Dackel is a creation of German breeders and includes elements of German, French, and English hounds and terriers. Dackel have been kept by royal courts all over Europe. The original Dackel was larger than the modern full-size variety and came straight-legged and crook-legged (modern ones are descended from the latter). They have traditionally been viewed as a symbol of Germany and political cartoonists have commonly used their image to ridicule Germany. During WW1, their popularity in the USA plummeted because of this; there also are anecdotes of a Dackel being stoned to death in England at the time because of its association with the enemy. As a result they were often called “liberty hounds” by their owners similar to “liberty cabbage” becoming a term for sauerkraut in North America (LOL! Right along with more recent Freedom Fries, eh?). The stigma of the association was revived to a lesser extent during WW2, though it was more short-lived. Kaiser Wilhelm II and Field Marshal Erwin Rommel were known for keeping Dackel.
As a breed, they’re playful; as hunting dogs they like chasing small animals, birds, and tennis balls with great determination and ferocity. Many are stubborn and are a challenge to train. Statistically, they’re aggressive to both strangers and other dogs. They’re rated in the intelligence of dogs as an average working dog with a persistent ability to follow trained commands 50% of the time, ranking #49 in Stanley Coren’s Intelligence of Dogs. They can have a loud bark. Some bark a lot and may need training to stop, while others will not bark much at all. They’re known for their devotion and loyalty to their owners, and can be standoffish towards strangers. If left alone, they might whine until they’re back to having company. If left alone too frequently, they may be prone to separation anxiety and may chew objects in the house to relieve stress. They’re burrowers by nature and are likely to burrow in blankets and other items around the house when bored or tired. Their temperament and body language give the impression that they don’t know or care about their relatively small size. Like many small hunting dogs, they will challenge a larger dog. In Germany, you often see elderly people with this kind of dog.