Teckel: Hunting Dog Breed Profile
The old adage “Good things come in small packages” certainly applies to the sprightly and spirited Dachshund breed. (Photo by: Damon Bungard/Jaeger Tracks)
You may also see or hear them being referred to as “dachshunds” or “dachshunds,” and these little dogs may at first glance look like your grandmother’s barking, overweight wiener dog, but the real dachshund is anything but. To put this comparison in simple terms that most sporting dog owners should understand, true dachshunds are to America’s Daschund what Deutsch Wirehaired Pointers are to German Wirehaired Pointers. Today’s Dachshunds are a product of Germany’s strict testing and breeding standards, with strict regulations in place to maintain the integrity of what these dogs were originally bred to do hundreds of years ago.
Although the dachshund looks similar to a Wiener dog at first glance, the real dachshund is much more than a couch potato. (Photo by: Damon Bungard/Jaeger Tracks) Bigger isn’t better
Mike Schlapa owns and operates from Mountain Creek in Northwest Georgia, where he is the only wire-haired dachshund breeder in the United States. His family, originally from Germany and Denmark, has been involved with hunting dogs for a long time. Growing up, Schlapa and his family regularly ran a kennel with dogs ranging from beagles and hounds to retrievers and pointers, as they tracked everything from pigeons and deer to quail and wild boar. About a decade ago, Schlapa was striving to reduce the number of dogs he owned and wanted a single dog to do what four to five different breeds would do for him.
He initially started out breeding and raising German Wirehaired Pointers, but after a few years saw where a smaller bodied dog would be more beneficial when he became interested in nuisance fighting and earthwork. He also continued to hunt almost any game in season and developed a need for a blood-searching dog. “I knew the dachshund’s reputation,” said Schlapa, “so I decided it would be another good option for me. I started my search to find the kind of dog I was looking for and it took me years to find the right dogs.”
With an exceptional nose and a strong prey drive, dachshunds can be used to flush and retrieve game birds from the uplands. (Photo by: Damon Bungard/Jaeger Tracks)
With family ties and connections to Germany, Schlapa went through a rigorous selection process before he was able to import his first dachshund. After his first dog, he became interested in breeding and strictly adhered to the standards of the German system. These standards were originally developed in 1888 when the Deutsch Teckel Klub (DTK) (under the umbrella of the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)) was founded in Germany. Their mission is to maintain the breed’s standards, with tests and evaluations dealing with physical confirmation, hair/coat, temperament, hunting ability, health clearances, obedience, tracking ability, field and water work, and weapon handling to to name just a few factors, and it only takes one of many faults to disqualify a dog from breeding.
History and development of dachshunds
The short-legged dachshund comes from Germany and was bred to be a versatile hunting dog in the truest sense of the word. Schlapa refers to the dachshund as the original forester’s dog; a dog for everything. “Hundreds of years ago, hunting was about food and function, not sport. A ranger worked for the state to manage the forest and manage the game that lived there. Royalty also had a ranger who looked after pests and predators and procured meals. They used teckels to drive away and kill foxes, badgers and wolves. Teckels would go into the animal burrows to drive out the vermin and either catch and kill them or flush them out for the hunters to shoot.”
Schlapa mentions that in addition to underground earthworks, dachshunds were also used above ground on driven hunts to kill birds, small game and large game for food. “The legend,” adds Schlapa, “that all dachshunds descended from some of the original shorthaired dogs over the years, but since the hunters wanted dogs that could do the earthwork better, they probably bred a terrier into them to help them smaller and with that came the coarse hair variations.”
Many dachshunds are bred for a variety of uses and excel at bloodtracking big game. (Photo by: Damon Bungard/Jaeger Tracks) Dachshund characteristics and characteristics
The dachshund comes in a total of nine varieties, with three different sizes based on chest circumference (dachshund, miniature dachshund, and rabbit dachshund) and three different coat varieties (smooth-haired, wire-haired, and long-haired). Coat color varies widely, from single to multiple shades of red, brown, and black to merle and brindle with inclusions of tan and gray.
According to the FCI, dachshunds generally have a long, powerful snout and a low, short-legged, elongated, muscular body. They are fast, energetic and agile, bred to scavenge and pursue game above and below ground. Their nature is described as friendly, neither fearful nor aggressive, with an even temperament and a passionate, persistent hunting drive with an excellent nose.
Hunting with a dachshund
In Germany and much of Europe, the teckel is still one of the most widespread hunting dogs. Schlapa adds that dachshunds are so effective partly because of their size, as game may not be quite as threatened and may not run, making it easier for hunters to target game than a pack of larger hounds.
Over the years, dachshunds have been introduced to the United States through immigration, but primarily as a result of military soldiers returning home from Europe after World War II. In the US, dachshunds are used primarily as trackers and big game recovery dogs, but as Schlapa describes, “They are very nose driven and have a lot of prey drive. They also have the ability to call off work, but that’s not their forte. Some dachshunds that have a decent hound become arboreal, but the main thing that limits their performance is the length of their legs. They will do almost anything you ask them to do, but they will not do well in deep snow on a mountain chasing (mountain) lions.”
You may fret about their small stature and wonder how they pull it off, but Schlapa reiterates that these dogs were bred to be all-purpose working dogs and will flush all sizes of game, and retrieving a dachshund isn’t out of the question. Ducks, too Rearing squirrels, running a wild boar, chasing down a wounded deer and flushing quail.
Dachshunds are not afraid of water and can be used for retrieval on a waterfowl hunt. (Photo by: Damon Bungard/Jaeger Tracks) Who is the dachshund for?
With dachshunds still being used for their original purpose, which includes a wide range of versatility, the dachshund is unlikely to make a great couch potato pet, or even make good play for the weekend warrior hunter. Schlapa warns that this rare breed of hunting dog isn’t for everyone and shouldn’t be your next pet project. “You come with a lot of responsibility. They’re the biggest little dogs you’ll ever meet, and they may be cute as puppies, but they’re a serious, all-round gun dog. If you are not willing to make the commitment to train the dog and provide the opportunities it needs and a consistent work opportunity, you will quickly find yourself in trouble.”
Schlapa mentions that he takes strict care when screening potential owners in his breeding program, a development that can sometimes take several years. “It’s not a quick or easy process and I’m not here to provide pets. I want to do what is best for my dogs and my number one goal is to ensure they go to a functioning home where they are well cared for.”
If you are interested in learning more about this unique gun dog breed, Schlapa recommends readers do some research and check out online resources such as the German Teckel Club or the North American Teckel Club to get a better idea of what these dogs are really capable of.
Think a cute little dachshund is for you? Make sure you honestly evaluate your lifestyle and judge whether or not you’re up to the challenge. (Photo by: Damon Bungard/Jaeger Tracks)