H.L. Mencken, a literary critic and humorous journalist, very wittily describes a Dachshund as
‘a half-a-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long’.
It’s even funnier when you think about a wolf running with all its mighty grace and then compare it with the awkward, yet cute, waddling of the Dachshund – an example of genetic mutations at work.
The way these dogs have been transformed from badge hunters to cute little additions to a family, shows the power of domestication and artificial selection.
Let’s take a look at the origins of this incredible drop-eared dog:
Where Did Dachshunds Originate From?
One theory suggests that Dachshunds originated in Ancient Egypt. However, that does not seem very likely.
The more plausible theory of their origin is that they were bred by German hunters to help them hunt badgers (Dachs means badger; hund means dog). The Dachshunds originated in Germany around 400 years back in what is now Black Forest.
The features of Dachshund might seem comical to you, but they were selectively bred for a very specific hunting purpose.
The short legs and long body allows Dachshund’s nose to be low to the ground. This helped them follow their “prey” more effectively. The shorter size also allowed them to fit in the burrows of small animals, such as rabbits. They would chase these animals out of their holes, making lives easier for the hunter.
It’s all in the Genes!
As the Dachshunds start growing older, their limb bones harden, impeding their growth and leading to a form of dwarfism called Chondrodysplasia.
The stunted legs are a result of a single genetic mutation. What happens is that FGF4 (Fibroblast Growth Factor 4), a gene that plays a crucial role in bone development, is copied and is fixed on a new location in the dog genome. This error, or mistake, in the genetic code leads to the rather awkward development of Dachshunds. Gene sequencing from 835 dogs across 76 breeds (95 of them short-legged) showed this unique genetic signature in stunted dog breeds.
Dachshunds in the US
Dachshunds arrived in the United States in the late 1800s. In the beginning, they were utilized for hunting purposes.
However, as time went by, these amazing canines evolved to become one of the most loveable household pets in the United States.
They are fun and interactive and become great social companions of their owners.
With nine years of experience studying the Dachshund breed and a team of passionate dog lovers, Red Oak Dachshund is home to miniature Dachshund puppies.
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