Il bassotto è una razza canina di origine tedesca caratterizzata dall'altezza proporzionalmente inferiore alla lunghezza. Si tratta di un cane da caccia, selezionato per seguire gli animali selvatici nel sottobosco intricato, e affrontarlo anche nelle tane sotterranee.
La razza, nelle sue 9 varietà, descritte da un unico standard, il n° 148, è l'unica appartenente al 4° gruppo della Classificazione della FCI. Le 9 varietà si distinguono per taglia (Standard, Nano e Kaninchen) e lunghezza e tessitura del pelo (corto, lungo o duro). La taglia non viene riferita all'altezza al garrese, ma alla circonferenza toracica, superiore ai 35 cm per il Bassotto Standard, superiore ai 30 cm per il Bassotto Nano, e fino ai 30 cm per il Bassotto Kaninchen (in Italia viene misurata dopo il 12° mese di età).
I bassotti sono dei cani che non tengono in alcun conto le proprie dimensioni, che pure conoscono. Sono capaci di attaccare briga con cani molto più grandi di loro, totalmente incuranti dei rischi che corrono e delle eventuali conseguenze. Dolcissimi con i padroni, straordinariamente volitivi, riescono a essere molto simpatici con i bambini di casa. Con gli estranei sono spesso inizialmente guardinghi. I bassotti hanno un carattere piuttosto forte; guidati da immediate simpatie o antipatie, stringono rapporti diretti, affatto mediati dalle intenzioni dei padroni, tanto nei confronti degli umani che degli altri cani. Non c'è premio o lusinga che tenga: si piegano a quanto richiesto solo se ciò coincide con la propria volontà.
Cani piuttosto territoriali, in casa si trasformano completamente per diventare i compagni più amabili, più affettuosi, più delicati e rispettosi. Le femmine sono estremamente dolci e seducenti, i maschi buffamente protettivi con le donne di casa: sono gli unici cani il cui sesso è perfettamente riconoscibile dall'espressione del muso e dal portamento. Cani eccezionali, di grande tempra e capaci di rapporti profondi molto selettivi, hanno un grandissimo pregio e un grande difetto: non puzzano mai, hanno sempre un odore lieve e gradevole, anche quando sono bagnati, e non perdono pelo in estate, ma potete pure dimenticare che il divano l'avete comprato voi! Chiunque abbia avuto un bassotto sa che è un compagno indimenticabile e alla pari, capace di grande empatia, forte e nobile, allegro e non invadente, amante dell'aperta campagna e dei rassicuranti ambienti casalinghi, pronto ad amare con tenerezza e incrollabile fedeltà, coraggioso e soave, incredibilmente aristocratico col suo naso aquilino e i dolcissimi occhi vividi e brillanti. Da sconsigliare vivamente a chi in un cane cerca prevalentemente uno specchio di sé; da consigliare vivamente a chi cerca piuttosto un implacabile, costante, indomabile, amorosissimo confronto.
The dachshund is a short-legged, elongated dog breed of the hound family. The breed's name is German and literally means "badger dog," from (der) Dachs, badger, and (der) Hund, dog. The standard size was developed to scent, chase, and flush badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the miniature was to hunt rabbits. Due to the long, narrow build, they are sometimes referred to as a wiener dog, hot dog, or sausage dog. Notwithstanding the German origin of the dachshund's name, within Germany the breed is known — both formally and informally — as the Dackel or Teckel.
Dachshunds come in three sizes. A full-grown standard dachshund averages 16 to 28 pounds. (7 to 12.7 kg), while the miniature variety typically weighs less than 11 lb. The kaninchen weighs 7-9 lb. (5 kg).
According to kennel club standards, the miniature variety differs from the full-size only by size and weight, thus offspring from miniature parents must never weigh more than the miniature standard to be considered a miniature as well.
H. L. Mencken said that "A dachshund is a half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long," which is their main claim to fame, although many poems and songs refer to them as "two dogs long." This characteristic has led them to be quite a recognizable breed and featured in many a joke and cartoon, particularly The Far Side by Gary Larson.
Coat and color
Dachshunds have a wide range of colouration. Dominant colors and patterns are red and black-and-red (often referred to as black-and-tan). Also occurring are cream, blue, wild boar, chocolate brown, fawn, brindle, piebald, and a lighter "boar" red. The reds range from coppers to deep rusts, with somewhat common black hairs peppered along the back, tail, face, and ear edges, lending much character and an almost burnished appearance; this is often desirable and is referred to among breeders and enthusiasts as a "stag" or an "overlay."
Solid black and solid chocolate-brown dachshunds occur and, even though dogs with such coloration are often considered handsome, the colors are nonstandard – that is, the dogs are disqualified from conformance competitions in the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, according to the Conformation judges of the DCA (Dachshand Club of America), and the AKC (American Kennel Club) assert the Piebald pattern a nonstandard and has voted to dismiss this pattern from competition.
Light-colored dachshunds usually sport green or blue eyes, rather than brown. They can also have eyes of two different colors; in rare cases, such as the double-dappled coloration (called merle in other dog breeds), dachshunds can have a blue and brown eye. Color aside, this eye condition has led to the double-dapple coat being disfavored among breeders and owners.
Dachshunds come in three coat varieties. The most common and associated with the dachshund is the smooth coated dog. The next most recognised is the long coat. The wire-haired dachshund is least common. Many people cannot recognize wire-hairs as dachshunds and can be mistaken as other kinds of dogs.
Dachshunds are playful, fun dogs, known for their propensity to chase small animals, birds and tennis balls with great determination and ferocity. Many dachshunds are strong-headed or stubborn, making them a challenge to train. Dachshunds have been known to have a liking to dig holes in the garden, or chase small animals such as birds, squirrels, or lizards. They have a particularly loud bark, making dachshunds good watchdogs. Dachshunds are known for their devotion and loyalty to their owners. If left alone many dachshunds will whine until they have companionship. Some dachshunds are prone to separation anxiety and may chew objects in the house to relieve stress.
According to the American Kennel Club’s breed standards, "the dachshund is clever, lively and courageous to the point of rashness, persevering in above and below ground work, with all the senses well-developed. Any display of shyness is a serious fault." Their temperament and body language give the impression that they do not know or care about their relatively small and comical stature. Indulged dachshunds may become snappy. Fanciers of the breed often say that "Dachshunds are big dogs in small packages".
The dachshund's temperament may vary greatly from dog to dog. Seemingly most dachshunds do not like unfamiliar people, and will growl or bark in response. Although the dachshund is generally an energetic dog, some are laid back. Due to this dog's behavior, it is not the dog for everyone. A bored dachshund will become destructive. If raised improperly, dachshunds can become aggressive or fearful. They require a caring owner that understands their need to have entertainment and exercise. Some may not be good with children, and they may bite an unfamiliar child.
The breed is known to have spinal problems, especially intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), due in part to an extremely long spinal column and short rib cage. The risk of injury can be worsened by obesity, which places greater strain on the vertebrae. In order to prevent injury, it is recommended that dachshunds be discouraged from jumping and taking stairs, and encouraged to instead take the elevator (though some veterinarians say that slow stair-climbing is unlikely to lead to injury). (Holding the dog properly is important, with both front and rear portions of the body fully supported.) However, according to the same article above, dachshunds that climb stairs regularly may actually be less prone to IVDD, probably because the exercise helps to keep them fitter and healthier, and positive correlations were found between physically fit dogs and a lower incidence of IVDD.
As it has become increasingly apparent that the occurrence and severity of these spinal problems, or intervertebral disk disease, is largely hereditary, responsible breeders are working to eliminate this characteristic in the breed. Treatment consists of various combinations of crate confinement and courses of anti-inflammatory medications (steroids). Serious cases may require surgery to remove the troublesome disk contents. Some double dapples have problems with deafness and blindness. Therefore they need an owner who understands a disabled dog's special needs. Generally responsible breeders refuse to breed this coloration because of this.
Some have theorized that the early roots of the dachshund go back to Ancient Egypt, where engravings were made featuring short-legged hunting dogs. But in its modern incarnation, the dachshund is a creation of European breeders, and includes elements of German, French, and English hounds and terriers. Dachshunds have been kept by royal courts all over Europe, including that of Queen Victoria, who was particularly enamored of the breed.
The first verifiable references to the dachshund, originally named the "Tachs Kriecher" (badger crawler) or "Tachs Krieger" (badger warrior), came from books written in the early 1700s. Prior to that, there exist references to "badger dogs" and "hole dogs", but these likely refer to purposes rather than to specific breeds. The original German dachshunds were larger than the modern full-size variety, weighing between 30 and 40 lb. (14 to 18 kg), and originally came in straight-legged and crook-legged varieties (the modern dachshund is descended from the latter). Though the breed is famous for its use in exterminating badgers and badger-baiting, dachshunds were also commonly used for rabbit and fox hunting, for locating wounded deer, and in packs were known to hunt game as large as wild boar and as fierce as the wolverine.
Double-dapple dachshunds are prone to eye disease and therefore are rare. It is generally believed that the breed was introduced to the United States between 1879 and 1885.
Symbol of Germany
Dachshunds have traditionally been viewed as a symbol of Germany, despite their pan-European heritage. Political cartoonists commonly used the image of the dachshund to ridicule Germany. The stigma of the association was revived to a lesser extent during World War II, though it was comparatively short-lived. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was known for keeping dachshunds.
For this association with Germany, the dachshund was chosen to be the first official mascot for the 1972 Summer Olympics, with the name Waldi.
The flap-down ears and famous curved tail of the dachshund have deliberately been bred into the dog. In the case of the ears, this is so that grass seeds, dirt and other matter do not enter into the ear canal. The curved tail is dual-purposed: to be seen more easily in long grass and, in the case of burrowing dachshunds, to help haul the dog out if it becomes stuck in a burrow.
Some people train and enter their dachshund to compete in dachshund racing, such as the Wiener Nationals. Several races across the country routinely draw several thousand attendees, including races in Buda, Texas, Davis, California, Los Alamitos, California, Findlay, Ohio, Oklahoma City, OK, Kansas City, KS, and Shakopee, MN. Despite the popularity of these events, the Dachshund Club of America opposes "wiener racing", as many greyhound tracks use the events to draw large crowds to their facilities. The DCA also is worried about potential injuries to dogs, due to their predisposition to back injuries.
Another favorite sport is earthdog trials, in which dachshunds enter tunnels with dead ends and obstacles attempting to locate an artificial bait or live but caged and protected mice. Dachshunds, being true scent hounds, also compete in scent tracking events, with a national championship sponsored every year by the DCA.
Dackel versus Teckel
In Germany dachshunds are widely named as 'Dackel' (both singular and plural). To be classified as a full Teckel, these dogs must undergo Blood Tracking tests. Classically, any dog of dackel heritage is given an official tattoo upon one ear. After suitable training, the dog must then follow a blood trail that is at least 48 hours old successfully to its conclusion. Once this is completed, another tattoo is marked on the other ear to denote full Teckel rank. As 'Teckel' are bred for hunting purposes, teckels tattooed or not, tend to be visibly larger in their chests than their dackel counterparts, though marginally shorter in length.