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Feisty and Brave: The Layers of Dachshund Temperament

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Dachshund temperament covers a variety of layers

Ask anyone in the veterinary profession to describe Dachshund temperament, and they’ll likely use one word: fearless. Nothing stopped my heart (or tested my reflexes), quite like watching a Doxie fling themself off the exam table. Then they’d flash a doggie grin – “Just testing!” Such superhero moments are normal for Doxie owners, and once you learn where that temperament comes from, it makes sense. It just never stops scaring the daylights out of vet staff.

The Intelligent “Badger Dog”

Dachshunds worked as badger hunters originally

Dachshund means “badger dog” in German. These little dogs were bred and trained to tunnel into burrows after badgers (badgers!), foxes, and other small game. No human could fit into those tunnels, so Dachshunds needed to be smart enough to problem-solve independently. That crafty intelligence carries forward to today. They focus on a situation until they unravel it. As such, puzzle toys are great options for Doxies. Now, this focus also means you might only get five feet during walks as they stop to sniff every inch of the sidewalk, so be prepared.

Sending Dachshunds after animals as fierce as badgers meant needing a courageous temperament. These little guys are certainly brave, even if taking on a stuffed badger. While that bravery is admirable, it can get them into trouble as they challenge dogs four times their size. (Or as they insist on jumping off exam tables.) Always keep your Doxie on a leash!


On the flip side, that same breeding manifests in the form of obstinance. Dachshunds are smart enough to manipulate situations to their benefit. This can make training difficult. Until you hit on your Doxie’s motivation, he’s only going to learn what he WANTS to learn. You’ll need patience and consistency if you want to outsmart your Dachsund.

“I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a Dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred, I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do.”

~E.B. White, Author of Charlotte’s Web

Loyal Dachshund Temperament

Dachshund temperament includes loyalty

Dachshunds bond with their family members. They are sweethearts, and they become attached to the people they love, sometimes to the point of becoming needy. They demand attention, and you’ll often find them underfoot. Oh, and it’s an unwritten rule that Doxies have unlimited access under the covers of the bed (ask any Dachshund owner). If you want a constant companion as you do chores, the Dachshund’s temperament is perfect for that. (Whether you wanted help sweeping the floor is another story) This loyalty makes them perfect guard dogs. It doesn’t hurt that Doxies also have the bark of a much bigger dog.


Unfortunately, the devotion that lies at the heart of a Dachshund’s temperament can lead to problems with aggression. Again, they were bred to take on BADGERS. And like many other small breed dogs, they have a bit of a Napoleon complex. They are not afraid to defend themselves or their families. Studies conducted rank Doxies in the top 50 most aggressive breeds – often higher than Rottweilers!

Dachshunds are not only aggressive toward strangers, but other dogs and even their owners (stubbornness has bad side effects). Strangers often view Doxies as cute and harmless. (Turns out that big bark isn’t always enough to dissuade people) I have to admit – my one dog bite was a Dachshund. (I went to shake his owner’s hand)

The best way to counter possible aggression problems: make sure your Dachshund is properly socialized. You can’t do much about the ingrained temperament, but exposing her to different people – starting as young as possible – will help.

And loyalty isn’t all bad. Dachshunds have been known to rescue their owners from bad situations!

Send in the Clowns

Dachshund temperament includes silliness, too

Dachshunds love to play, and their faces reflect their sense of humor. This temperament allows them to make a game out of just about anything. Fetch is a particular favorite of theirs – they just might not always bring the toy back (independent thought at work). As part of their loyalty, Doxies will look to you for interaction. While you need to be careful of their backs (discourage jumping on/off furniture), the activity will keep their mischievousness in check. Small children don’t mesh well (those backs again), but older children and Doxies are a great combination.

Back in the Tunnels

If left to their own devices, Dachshunds will revert to the hunting side of their temperament for activity. This means your gardens could come under assault. Doxies LOVE to dig. Leaving them unsupervised in the backyard isn’t recommended; they can tunnel OUT. They also have a prey drive for smaller creatures. This often translates to toys getting “killed.” So long as you’re prepared to replace toys (and remove debris), you’re good.

Triple Dachshund Temperament?

Dachshunds come in three varieties, and fanciers swear each has a unique temperament. The Long-Haired Dachshund is reported to be easy-going and the calmest. Meanwhile, the Wire-Haired Dachshund is considered the opposite: an extroverted entertainer. That leaves the Smooth-Haired Dachshund (the most popular in the United States). As expected, this breed falls in the middle of the other two. However, some feel the Smooth-Coat is the bossiest of the trio.

In reality, the temperament of your Dachshund depends on your training, the socialization they experience as a puppy, and what you allow them to get away with regularly.

Understanding Dachshund Temperament

As with any dog breed, the Dachshund’s temperament has its pros and cons. As one of the most popular breeds in the world, owners understand the importance of working with the Doxie’s nature. If you want a dog to snuggle under the blankets, “help” with your daily routine, and scare everyone who knocks at the door, then the Dachshund is the dog for you.

Just be ready when they get that superhero glint in their eye.

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Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy

Andria grew up in a pet-friendly household. On weekends, the family made trips to zoos and aquariums in the area. So it wasn’t a surprise when she gravitated toward a career with animals.

After six years working among the background operations at the Philadelphia Zoo, she gained a unique insight into the veterinary world. The vet staff provided her first lessons in terminology, the identification of medical equipment, and glimpses of radiographs (x-rays). She also enjoyed plenty of opportunities to talk with everyone, including the veterinary technicians. And they offered an alternative for someone NOT interested in surgical pathways: Namely, their course of study.

Andria enrolled at Harcum College. Philadelphia boasts two programs for vet techs, but only Harcum works with the Ryan Veterinary Hospital and New Bolton Center (University of Pennsylvania’s small and large animal facilities, respectively). Harcum’s vet tech students receive six months of hands-on teaching and experience alongside Penn’s vet students.

With the opportunities and connections available with one of the top veterinary schools, the decision was easy for her to make.

New Bolton Center: Large Animal Medicine
Andria ended up trudging through snow up to the knee and shivering in subzero temperatures during her winter semester, but she wasn’t disappointed with her choice. New Bolton provided a thorough grounding in large animal medicine. A horse-lover as a child, the experience renewed those old emotions.

And a few memories stood out and remained to this day:

  • Standing alongside a Clydesdale and feeling TINY
  • Holding the reins of a horse galloping at top speed on a treadmill
  • Nursing tiny foals through the first days of their life

Ryan Veterinary Hospital: Small Animal Medicine
Veterinary students can legally work at a practice while studying. Andria took advantage of the opportunity, gaining “real life” experience while attending class. It provided a slight advantage when she entered her three months at the small animal hospital.

However, as Ryan Veterinary Hospital offers treatments unique to the veterinary community, she continued to gain valuable experience. For instance, she spent a day working alongside their Chemo Team. The positivity of everyone she encountered – staff, clients, and patients alike – left a lasting impression.

Additional standout moments included:

  • An afternoon spent with the head of the feline kidney transplant program
  • A day serving as the anesthesia technician in their new radiation unit
  • Recognizing a radiograph of a giant elephant shrew (applying her previous zoo knowledge)

Emergency/ICU Veterinary Technician
Accompanying her Associate of Science in Veterinary Technology, Andria received a passing score on the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). The two led to her certification/license as a veterinary technician – first in Pennsylvania (CVT) and later in Virginia (LVT).

Emergency medicine appealed to her from the beginning. The flux of ailments, injuries, and even species kept her mind sharp at all times. The knowledge required to handle cats, dogs, exotics, and even wildlife is highest in an ICU setting. When a vet tech never knows the patient’s stability coming back to the treatment area, skills and the ability to respond in an instant always stay in peak shape.

With treatments evolving at a constant basis, Andria sought out the best Continuing Education opportunities. She attended the International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (IVECCS) Conference whenever possible. This allowed her to discuss the latest wound treatments, medications, and advancements in diet formulations.

Cardiology Veterinary Technician
With the increased knowledge and experience, Andria noticed gaps in her abilities. Her grasp of cardiology remained at the basic level. She wanted to boost her skills and understanding as much as possible, improving her patient care. When an opportunity within the practice arose to move into the cardiology department, she accepted.

She sharpened her ability to read ECGs, recognizing arrhythmias of every type. Speaking with the cardiologist, she learned to read echocardiograms, picking out the most common disease processes. And, courtesy of her position in the department, she took in everything she could regarding the grain-free diet concern.

And throughout her ten-year career, she built her store of client interactions. She learned stories of heartbreak and hope. In the middle of the night, she shared touching and humorous conversations. Every moment taught her to engage with people. And the skill blended into her writing ability, capturing the interest of pet-lovers everywhere.

Check out Andria’s LinkedIn here


  1. And here all this time, I thought Dachshund was German for “little pain in the ass “…..

    • Sunny,
      Dachshunds can come across as temperamental to some people, but a lot of people feel the different layers of their temperament are worth working with. It’s not really fair to look at one aspect of their personality to the exclusion of the others.

  2. I agree my dauschund bear is a layer and everyday those layers make him enjoyable or my pain in the ads

    • Maggie,
      I’m glad to hear Bear keeps you on your toes. The best dogs always do, right?
      Thanks for your support here at Bone & Yarn!

    • Our Rupert is only a few inches tall…but every inch tells him he’s a Rottweiler! ????

      • Ronnie,
        They’re little spitfires, aren’t they?

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