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Breed Observations

    Published in the May 2003 edition of the Canine Chronicle


1. Tell me about the breed you are/were involved with as they were when
you first got started and how you have watched them change. Are you
still an active breeder?

After my early years in dogs having been spent with Irish setters, I got involved with dachshunds in the 1970s.  I began with miniature longhairs (and now breed both standards and miniatures longs), and the improvement in the miniature varieties over the past 20 to 30 years has been steady.  Breed type has advanced remarkably in many bloodlines and soundness has improved as well.  This is definitely not to say that a judge will be presented with nothing but fine examples, but at many shows the potential does exist to lay hands on some good ones.  There are many who feel that the standard varieties are not, overall, in as good a state as they were 10 or 20 years ago. There are those who disagree, of course. 


2. What are their strengths and weaknesses now and what should the
breeders be aware of?

Strengths seen in the breed today

There are exhibits of good breed type in most varieties.  Temperaments are generally quite good.

Prevalent weaknesses

Overall poor front-end construction: shoulders that are upright or set too far forward on the ribcage, or both; too much lifting of the front legs when trotting; movement that is either too wide or too narrow. 
Rears: weak hindquarters; cowhocks; rear action with the hock never moving past the perpendicular, or worse, "belly tapping," with all the action of the rear legs taking place under the dog; long rear pasterns.
Many exhibits are too fine in bone.

Breeders should be vigilant not to sacrifice truly correct front ends to merely impressive front ends.  Prominent forechest is a hallmark of breed type, but more is not necessarily better, as moderation in things that are already extreme can have its merits.  A huge forechest with bad shoulders does not make a good front, nor does it equip the dog for its intended work.  The growing prevalence of dogs with good forechest but an outline that is ruined by the sharp angle where the neck and shoulder meet is discouraging. 

Do you feel that the dogs within this breed are good representatives today?

       There are good examples to be found in each of the 6 dachshund varieties, but the breed does not currently have the depth of quality that I would like to see at shows.


3.  Has the breed strayed from the guidelines of the standard?

In my opinion the breed has evolved in one particular way as an interpretation of the breed standard that is not what the writers intended. The standard calls for the dachshund to be "low to ground."  Compared to most other breeds there is no doubt that it is an accurate description, but some breeders may have over-selected for this trait, as it is possible to be too low to function effectively.  This breed is something of an extreme of nature, and exaggerating that which is already extreme is considered unnecessary by many.

Did your breed change their standard over the last 25 years and if so what has been the impact?
       The breed standard was revised in 1992 to comply with AKC's desire for more uniform formats; the previous version had been approved in 1971.  A disqualification for knuckling over was added, and a change was made to the desired eye shape from "oval" to "almond," along with other alterations.  The listing of faults at the end was eliminated which has been bemoaned by some judges who found it a good tool. 
I do not think that the changes made have had a huge impact on the breed to date.


4. Are there areas which could be improved within the existing standard?
Dos the standard need additional changes? If so, please discuss the
areas. If not, are there areas in which your standard describes the
breed that are the very essence of the breed enabling the
exhibitor/breeder/judge to excel?

       The breed standard is currently undergoing a revision.  Clarification regarding colors and patterns is needed as the black-and-cream color and the piebald pattern have entered the show ring since the last revision. 
    The combination of the opening "General Description" paragraph and the "Temperament" statement in the standard can be quite helpful in understanding breed essence. Also, the front assembly of the dachshund is one of the breed's unique characteristic and the standard rightfully devotes its longest section to this part of the dachshund's anatomy.

5. I'd like to hear about the standard vs. fads etc.

     There are many breeders today who are fixated on color, putting their own twist to the old adage "no good dog can be a bad color," seeming to think that it reads, "No bad dog can be an interesting color."  Some astonishingly poor examples of the breed are currently being exhibited,  "interesting" patterns and/or colors being the only noteworthy thing about them aside from an overall lack of quality.  There are, of course, some very good dogs of the rarer colors and patterns also being exhibited, as there are some breeders who concentrate on breeding good dachshunds that happen to be other than the traditional colors.