Dachshund Temperament, from Good to Bad

Travis Neighbor WardBehavior5 Comments

One reason people love dachshunds is that their personalities are so complex and often contradictory. When you live with a dachshund, you can’t help but laugh at them on a daily basis. In fact, as dog entertainment doxies can’t be beat!

Black-and-brown shorthaired dachshund puppy. Photo by Jason Tucker/Flickr

Black-and-brown shorthaired dachshund puppy. Photo by Jason Tucker/Flickr

Dachshunds Are Brave

First, dachshunds are incredibly brave. It’s in their DNA to fight badgers in dark holes. That means they’re bred to fight dirty (literally).

This courage expresses itself under all circumstances, usually with barking. They’ll bark at unfamiliar voices on the driveway or at the front door. They have a deep, gruff bark that makes them sound like large dogs.

This is partly because their lungs are large and their chest is shaped like a barrel. All that sound has room to resonate!

This also makes them fantastic guard dogs. I’ve had several contractors at my house say they assumed I had a large dog when they heard the barking outside the door.

Dachshunds will bark at the doorbell, the car door slamming, even the garage door rising. They’ll rush in the direction of whatever the threat is, ready to defend.

It’s hilarious to watch them barking at things that aren’t threats at all — like Halloween blow-up figures, balloons, and ocean waves.

The time when the dachshund’s courage can be annoying is while out on walks. I’ve seen dachshunds that don’t bark at other dogs, and I applaud their parents for successfully training them not to.

But the ones that do bark on walks do it with such gusto. This can suddenly take you by surprise as the leash is pulled tight and your doxie’s strong, little body strains hard as it rushes towards danger.

My dachshunds tend to lunge more at large dogs — which of course makes no sense from a survival standpoint. Then again, they were bred to hunt deer and wild boar.

This is true even of miniature dachshunds. We’ve had to hold our dogs on a short leash many a time to make sure they don’t bark in the face of Labs and pit bulls — and get eaten.

Dachshunds Are Stubborn and Clever!

Dachshunds are also stubborn — or, as some will say, they have an independent spirit. And by that I mean they absolutely refuse to do things if they don’t want to.

When you first get a dachshund puppy, you may mistakenly assume she’s not learning what you want her to learn.

But as you become wiser, you’ll realize she’s deciding not to obey you.

Dachshunds are extremely intelligent and clever. You can see their minds working as they choose to go their own way, regardless of what you say.

This can lead to the funniest dog expressions you’ll ever see — so funny that it’s impossible to stay angry at a doxie for long.

Dachshunds are famous for their expressions of fake guilt — after they pooped in your hallway or peed on your bathmat.

If you go on social media you’ll find thousands of memes that have doxies with this guilty look and a funny apology!

>> To see more funny memes, follow my Funny Dachshund board on Pinterest!

Some people say that dachshunds are virtually untrainable, and it may be because they’re stubborn.

But it also may be because they’re simply uninterested in what you’re proposing they learn, and they’d rather spend their time doing something else.

And when they don’t want you to find them, they won’t respond to your call. As my daughter says, “they won’t respond to anything!”

That said, there are people who show dachshunds in dog shows. They compete them in trials for obedience, conformation, agility, and and field trials. 

So the truth is it can be done, if you’re determined.

Weiner Dogs are Helpful

Dachshunds love to be helpful. The way they show this can be so funny you’ll find yourself crying with laughter!

For example, my miniature dachshund Cocoa will follow me around the house as I do chores. It’s very cute to see her patiently waiting for me to finish cleaning the kitchen at night before she’ll join the rest of the family in the living room.

She’s done this not once or twice but every time. As a puppy she didn’t. But as she got older she must’ve scolded herself that doing chores is part of being a mature doxie.

When I do laundry, Cocoa follows me from the laundry closet to the guest room. She watches as I fold clothes, an anxious expression in her eyes.

She’s nervous because she doesn’t know what we’re doing next and she doesn’t want to miss out on anything. She literally follows me with each load, studying my every move. If only I could get her to truly help!

Anyone who gets a dachshund should be prepared to hear the click clacking of tiny nails back and forth across the floor. They will follow you everywhere you go when they’re not napping.

It’s also delightful to have a dachshund in the garden with you while you water plants. They go into stealth mode because they can smell every creature that’s walked through it before them.

Any gardening chore becomes enjoyable because you can watch dachshunds creeping through the undergrowth like they’re in a jungle.

What are they sniffing with such intense curiosity? We’ll never know but it’s fully enjoyable to watch.

Dachshunds are Friendly and Affectionate

Dachshunds are extremely affectionate and yes, they can become a bit clingy. They love to nap when they get older, so you’ll get a break. But when they’re puppies it’s like having a new toddler that demands your attention around the clock.

There’s nothing sadder than saying goodbye to a dachshund when you leave your house to go to work! They’ll sit watching you with their deep eyes, an expression of true pain in them.

That’s also why I recommend you have another dog to be their companion.

When we first got our dachshund Emily it was terrible leaving her alone. But once we got our second dachshund, Cocoa, Emily was fine when we’d leave her home.

This clingy quality also means you get lots of love and kisses from your dachshund. There’s a reason why people train them as therapy dogs!

Dachshunds are snuggle bugs at night especially, and will stake their claim by your side — for a short while, before they burrow deep under the covers to the foot of the bed.

We often hold our dachshund like a baby, on her back, and she loves it. (Of course, you have to be careful not to hurt a doxie’s back, which is more prone to injury than other breeds.)

Doxies love being swadlled in blankets at all times. They love sitting on your lap and riding with you in the car. When they get tired on walks, they like being carried.

It’s wonderful if you’re into it. Every dachshund parent I know would never give that up.

Some warn that dachshunds can become too clingy with one person and then snap at others. My only experience with this is with our first dachshund Emily, whom I loved dearly.

Emily became extra-attached to me in our family. If she was sitting beside me on our bed and someone tried to pick her up, she’d act as if she were going to give them a little nip.

That’s not to say she ever bit anyone; she didn’t. But it was her way of telling them to leave her be.

When Emily wasn’t on the bed with me, she was clingy with every member of our family. Dachshunds are great family pets — it’s like you’re collectively taking care of an eternal young toddler.

What's your experience with the dachshund temperament?

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5 Comments on “Dachshund Temperament, from Good to Bad”

  1. My dachshund suddenly lunched at me and bit me. The next morning she laid on my lap and suddenly bit me in the other hand without warning. Is this normal behaviour of must I look out for something that can be wrong???

    1. Hi, Yvonne! Thanks for writing in. I would definitely ask a trainer or vet about that. It’s very important to understand why the biting is occurring as soon as possible, and to get her to stop doing it now. Also, make sure to treat any bite properly. You don’t want that to get infected, so if your skin is broken I would definitely show your own doctor.

      In terms of my experience with our dogs biting:
      Our first dachshund, Emily, was the sweetest dog until I tried taking a bone away from her. Then she growled ferociously, though she didn’t bite. So we stopped giving her bones and she never did that again. But did have a biting problem develop temporarily with our spaniel. Again, she was the sweetest dog and then she “suddenly” started biting. At least, that’s how it seemed to us. Then we realized she had been showing signs of increasing aggressive behavior over months. When we looked at what had changed in those months, the only thing that stood out was a medicine our previous vet had prescribed for her incontinence. It turned out the medicine (called Proin) was actually speed — they used to call it Dexatrim when people took it for weight loss, but it was banned for use in humans!! That vet hadn’t told us it was speed, or that the aggression and biting were possible side effects! I was so upset. When we pulled our dog off of it, she went back to being her sweet self in a matter of two weeks.

      So, my advice is ask a pro to take a look at your dachshund, and also take a look at any changes you might have made to her routine/diet/medicine that might be playing a role in this. Let me know what you find out! Good luck!

  2. My doxie has suddenly started acting like she’s spooked. She paces. She will scream if you get close to her. She’ll hunch her back and walk around with her head down. She yelps sometimes for no reason. Then, an hour later, she’s back to normal. What the heck? Is it arthritis?

    1. Hi, Brenda! As you know, I’m not a vet. So I’d definitely recommend you see your vet if it persists. But I can tell you that we’ve had our dachshunds behave in a similar manner under two different circumstances in the past.

      In one case it was because our dog Emily had eaten a chicken bone (she’d somehow gotten into our trash bag), and it was causing her bowel discomfort. In this case she only yelped when we tried to pick her up. When we took her to the vet, they gave us some medicine that would dissolve the bone so it wouldn’t risk hurting her when it came out.

      In the other case our dog Cocoa had hurt her back. In fact, with Cocoa this has happened several times over the years. She’d yelp when we tried to pick her up and when she was just standing there. Each time we need to crate her for a few days on and off to give her back a chance to heal. She loves jumping and it’s so easy for dachshunds to throw their back out.

      Let me know if you find out the cause so other readers can benefit from it! I hope all goes well.

  3. Good article. I have owned a couple dachshunds, spanning 2/3 of my life. Fun, smart dogs, but they do have a penchant for combat, with other (usually much larger) dogs. My 14yr old sent several dobermans and German sheppards running for their lives, on occasion, haha. You definitely have to keep an eye on them at the dog park. This is probably not the best breed for a first-time dog owner, lol.

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