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We got our miniature dachshund, Herbie, earlier this year. We did plenty of research before getting him and we’ve put in lots of time training him since he arrived. He features a lot over on my Instastories and I love getting messages about him. He gets a a lot of love there and I also get a fair few questions about what it’s like living with a dachshund. Which is why today I thought it’d be helpful to answer some of your questions and share a little about our experiences of life with him so you can decide, ‘is a miniature dachshund for you?’…
I will preface this with the obvious fact that every dog is different. There will be a lot of traits that are inherent within the breed, but then your own training and home life will have a big impact on how your miniature dachshund behaves. There are also three different types of miniature dachshund, a smooth-haired (like Herbie), a long-haired and a wire-haired. All three have different traits associated with them and different grooming needs. As such, I can speak for us and our experiences with our miniature smooth dachshund and recommend that you check out the Dachshund Breed Council website for further information.
I think the first thing to understand about these dogs is that they are from the Hound group of dogs, and as such, they behave like hounds. They might be small, but they are mighty! If you are looking for a small, calm, gentle lapdog then these probably aren’t the breed for you. They are scent hounds bred to go to ground, they have a fair bit of energy and they like to use their skills – digging, sniffing, chewing and so on. Our previous dog was a hound and we love the group so we knew that we wanted to get a small hound this time.
From day one, Herbie wanted cuddles and affection and that has never changed. Whilst he is now less attached to me than he was at a few weeks old, he is still happiest when he is lying on my lap, as he is now as I write this. If I sit down, unless it’s at the dining table where he knows he can’t come up, he will sit on me. I am now a puppy’s seat, and I am quite content with that!
Herbie is a very cuddly dog and he is playful and curious. He adores a new toy and likes to play enrichment games. Herbie loves the sunshine and being warm, so he will always find the sunniest spot in the house and at night he likes to burrow under his many blankets to be snug. He loves to chew and to sniff and I’ll share more in a moment on those. He is not a natural retriever or a swimmer, he is never drawn to water. In fact, when we are out he will do all he can to walk around water and puddles. He’s low to the ground, it must be very chilly!
To buy a miniature dachshund from a reputable breeder (use the Kennel Club website to find breeders) it will typically cost £1400-2000 at the moment. You can then expect to pay £25-30 per month on pet insurance and around £20-30 on food. There are then vet bills for vaccinations and boosters, flea and worm treatments and any other issues arising. To get everything you need for your puppy, I have popped suggested items for puppies in my Amazon store.
These little dogs get a bad rep when it comes to kids, but I can honestly say that Herbie adores children. He was very well socialised with them, and I believe that’s the key, so he’s very comfortable around kids. Kids can be unpredictable, they make sudden movements and funny noises, so it is worth socialising your miniature dachshund well with them from an early age so that they are not nervous and unsure around them.
We taught the kids to respect him, as they should with any dog. They don’t grab at him, taunt him, mess with him whilst he’s eating and they know to leave him alone if he chooses to take himself off to his crate. He has never shown the slightest sign of aggression towards them, but they need to understand that he is an animal and not a toy.
Herbie adores them. He cuddles up to them, chases after them in the garden and is desperate to see them both when they first get up each morning. Of course, the kids love Herbie more than anything else in the world.
All of Herbie’s training has been positive reinforcement training and it has been a pleasure working with him like this. He has responded very well to it and at nearly ten months old , I am pleased with his behaviour. There is still work to do as he can get overexcited and a little too hump happy when he is over tired, so we will keep working on that! Dachshunds can be quite sure of themselves and it helps if they want to do whatever it is that you are attempting to get them to do. For this reason, I think the positive reinforcement training is key so that he gets praised regularly and is not forced to do things that he doesn’t want to do.
I started clicker training Herbie in his very first week with us. He responded very well and loved his training sessions. I kept them short and used his favourite treats of chicken and cheese to train him.
We then started going to puppy classes when he was around twelve weeks old. He loved them from day one and did very well there, too. I am confident that we have a bond that enables me to continue to train him and that he trusts me to do so.
The toilet training
Miniature dachshunds have a reputation for being difficult to toilet train. I know this can put a lot of people off getting them (as many of you ask me this question!).
I didn’t find Herbie to be particularly difficult, to be honest. I can’t quite recall when he last had an accident in the house, but I’d guess it’s been at least three months, so we can say he was fully trained by six months old and he had rarely had accidents for a few weeks before that. I feel like I was happy to stop watching him like a hawk when he was around four months old.
We worked on taking him outside from day one, night and day, and never used puppy pads. When there were accidents, we ignored them and cleaned them up using a neutralising spray so he couldn’t smell anything there (remember dogs sense of smell is way better than ours so your normal cleaning sprays won’t do the job here). We didn’t reward with treats, just lots of smiles and praise whenever he got it right. He soon understood and his teeny bladder soon grew enough for him to control it.
Herbie didn’t bark much at all until he was about five to six months old. Then he discovered his voice! Again, miniature dachshunds can be known for being very vocal. Herbie’s not too bad, though when he starts barking, he wants to keep barking! He is very good in that he sits and watches the world go by at our window and rarely makes a sound – when some dogs walk by (it seems to just be certain ones) he barks, but that’s about it. He doesn’t bark when the doorbell goes or when people arrive or depart, so he’s not bad at all. Squirrels, birds or any other interloper in our garden (yes, sometimes leaves and other inanimate objects) can make him very cross, though!
I was asked a question about how to stop the barking, and I’d suggest treating and distracting the second before you know your dog is going to bark. Before is key as if you treat afterwards you are just rewarding him for barking! Herbie knows we don’t want him barking, so as soon as I enter the room that he’s barking in, he stops. I normally distract him by cuddling or playing with him so he expects this.
No doubt about it, dachshunds like to chew!
From day one, we offered Herbie one of his toys when he went to bite us, as all puppies will do. It worked, and despite being the most amazingly strong chewer (again, do not be deceived by their size, this dog could out-chew a dog five times his size!) he has never chewed our furniture, rugs, walls, nothing. His own things, however, destroyed within minutes! It is a challenge to find toys that last for more than a day here now, but he has a few and then we improvise using recycling and paper to play with when he wants a change.
He was pretty good at not chewing inside from his first weeks here, and I ensured that I prevented him from being near to things that he could chew and harm himself on. He loved chewing everything in the garden which was trickier to police, but I used anti-chew spray out there to put him off things. These days he might chew the odd leaf or twig, but he’s nowhere near as bad as he was.
This part is easy as Herbie doesn’t need much grooming. He needs his nails trimmed, of course, but his coat never needs to be trimmed and a quick brush once a week to remove any loose hairs is all that he needs. He then gets bathed just two to three times a year and whenever he is muddy from the park, I can towel it off him and I then just give him a quick wipe down (which he loves!) and he’s good to go.
Do not be fooled by his tiny little legs. Dachshunds can walk for miles and miles and are built for endurance. Of course, as he’s still a puppy, we don’t push him and walk him for too long, but we know what he’s capable of. They tend to be ‘medium’ energy dogs and Herbie’s quite content with one walk a day. We walk for between half an hour and an hour each day.
He then enjoys playing with the kids at home and running around and sniffing out in the garden. They are dogs that love a lounge around as much as they love getting outside so you get the best of both worlds. I will say that Herbie hates the rain, so we rarely go out for walks in the rain, and if we do, he wears a coat and we walk quickly round the block! When it is just a quick walk like this, he’s absolutely fine and not bouncing off the walls due to lack of exercise.
I worked quite hard with socialising Herbie when he first came home to us. Puppies need to be exposed to as many different sights, sounds, smells and experiences as possible during their socialisation window, when they are around 8-16 weeks old. Being so small, I was able to take him everywhere with me in a bag, and then on the ground when immunised, so he saw a lot of the world in those two months.
This is all about confidence building and helping your dog to know that you will keep him safe. Herbie knows that I have got his back, and so he wanders about in the world quite content that he is safe and he can enjoy himself. He is not nervous meeting other dogs (unless they surround him or come at him suddenly, but then who can blame him?) and is content meeting new people.
The separation issues
Dachshunds do have a reputation for suffering from separation anxiety. Knowing this to be the case, we followed the advice to keep Herbie with us until we felt that he was confident enough to be left alone. In our case, that was around seven months old and he has been absolutely fine since then and shows no signs at all of suffering with separation anxiety.
He is very sociable and loves nothing more than a house full of us all. As I work from home, he’s normally left for the school runs each day and the occasional outing or errand. It doesn’t seem to bother him at all and there are never any accidents or chewing incidents to deal with when I get home, phew!
The greatest concern with a long, low dog, is his back. You do need to be careful to lift him properly, whilst supporting his back and Herbie has never been allowed to run down stairs. He flies up them, though, when he spots the stair gate is open!
It is crucial that dachshunds do not become overweight as this puts more pressure on their backs. They should be fit and exercised and they should not be neutered before they are fully matured. One in four dachshunds do get IVDD, so it is a case of doing what you can to reduce the risk and then ensuring that you have good insurance in place should they be unfortunate enough to be that one in four.
The scent hound
Herbie adores sniffing. He’s very good at it. He was bred for it.
I do what I can to encourage his skills and get him to enjoy his natural instincts. He has a snuffle mat, we play treat trail games and whenever we’re on walks I give him plenty of time to sniff around. I’ll rarely move him on from a scent, unless he’s about to lead us into a holly bush (it happens more than you’d think!).
I love watching him when he has picked up a scent as it makes him so happy. His little tail’s up in the air wagging, and he is dashing around with his nose to the ground.
OK, just to cover off a couple of final questions that you’ve asked me…
Would he be good for a first time dog owner?
I find this one a bit tricky to answer, to be honest. I had dogs throughout my entire childhood, from the day I was born until the day I left home we had a dog in the house. We then had Harry who passed away a few years ago, so I am very used to dogs.
I feel that Herbie has been easy to train and look after, certainly no more difficult than other dogs I’ve known, but then I am very comfortable with dogs myself. I also did plenty of research before getting him and have worked hard to understand and follow positive reinforcement training methods. It’s fair to say that I have put the time in training and bonding with him and I’d say that if you do that, a miniature dachshund will be a wonderful first time dog for you and you will never look back.
Easier or harder than a baby?
Good question! I think this is probably more of a general puppy question than a miniature dachshund question. I wrote The Truth About Life With A Puppy earlier this year which will give you a better idea of all that those early puppy days entail.
Unlike babies, they will wee on your floor, they will bite you and they don’t stay in the place that you just put them in! Like babies, they will get you up in the night, wake up early and require all of your attention. They need a lot of input from you when they are young, and the more you do now to socialise and train them the better, as your puppy will then grow to be a lovely dog.
However, the great thing about puppies is that they grow up a lot faster than babies. I don’t feel that Herbie is hard work now and he’s not even a year old – I am quite sure that I didn’t feel that way about the kids at this age! He needs feeding, walking once a day, the occasional vet visit and then he just wants cuddles. Easier than a baby.
I think that’s covered just about everything, I believe that I have answered all of your questions. I thought I’d end this post with all of the reasons that a miniature dachshund makes a fabulous pet.
This is why you should have a miniature dachshund…
I love that the kids can have him on the lead and he’ll never be too strong for them.
I love that whilst we don’t encourage him to jump up people, when he does he can do no harm to them. (we do discourage this, to look after his back)
I love that he doesn’t need a huge amount of food, costing us a lot less than a large breed hound.
I love that he barely sheds. I think this really varies by individual, but Herbie doesn’t shed much at all.
I love that he has very low grooming needs.
I love that I can easily pick him up. It makes it easy for me to get him out of scrapes, pop him into the car and if he’s ever poorly, I can safely lift and get him to the vets.
I love that he makes me laugh every day.
I love that dachshunds make people smile. I hear Sausage shouted a lot whilst we’re out!
I love that he is utterly adorable. Just look at him.
I honestly cannot imagine owning any other breed now, I am a complete miniature dachshund convert!
What do you think, is a miniature dachshund for you? Feel free to ask any questions!
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