Dachshunds are one of the oldest and most easily recognized dog breeds. When fully grown, they often still look like puppies. They retain a puppy’s irrepressible temperament as well, leading some owners to wonder, at what age does a dachshund finally calm down?
Dachshunds come into the world with high energy, and they are often two-years-old before they begin to show a more mellow side. Many factors besides a dog’s age play into a dachshund’s demeanor, including early socialization and neutering. One of the most important variables in this breed’s temperament is how its owner treats it.
Known for their courage, curiosity, and stubbornness, dachshunds are as famous for their personalities as their diminutive size. This article will discuss how the breed got its characteristic temperament and how owners can help their dogs learn to be more serene.
How Did They Get Such a Big Spirit in Such a Little Dog?
If dog breeds have inherent traits, then dachshunds are a perfect example of dogs who wake up full of energy each day. They exhibit intense curiosity about whatever they find interesting and love to burrow — even if it’s just under the covers.
The love of burrowing should not surprise an owner, considering that 600 years ago, dachshunds were bred to burrow underground and root out badgers. Their name, dachshund, literally translates from German as “badger dog.”
Early socialization, which includes introducing other dogs and people into their “pack,” helps the dachshund learn how to relate without expressing aggression. If the dachshund is not going to be used for breeding, having it neutered or spayed in its first six months of life helps in controlling its assertive tendencies.
Lots of handling, teaching, and discipline by the owner is a third factor, that may be the most important. If dachshunds learn early on that the owner is the one in charge, the owner will have more success in controlling and calming the dachshund throughout its life.
How Do Dachshunds Get Along with Other Dogs?
It may be surprising to those who own one that dachshunds are actually the breed most likely to be aggressive toward other dogs. Compared to other aggressive breeds, research has demonstrated the dachshund can be quite belligerent.
Compounding the seriousness of this, dachshunds do not seem to realize that they are comparatively small and typically will not hesitate to go after much larger animals.
The good news is the owner can moderate aggressiveness, provided they are willing to devote time to introducing new dogs to the dachshund. Because this breed is strong-willed and can be difficult to train, some owners may find it best to have the help of a professional dog trainer.
The younger the dog is, the easier it will be to train. The proverb, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” is not true. It is simply easier to train dachshunds when they are young.
Because dachshunds are highly intelligent and curious, you can train them throughout their life spans. Ideally, owners can use their dog’s curiosity to teach them how to react calmly to other dogs.
Are Dachshunds Good With Children and Strangers?
As a species, dogs are known to be territorial, and dachshunds especially express this characteristic. Thus, when a stranger comes into what the dog perceives as its personal space, a dachshund’s frequent response will be defensive, with barking and perhaps biting.
This trait of ownership also applies to the dog’s toys and other personal possessions. Because children are often thrilled at the appearance and size of a dachshund, they are particularly at risk of being challenged and bitten if they invade the dog’s space or try to hold something the dog views as its own.
Also, it is important to remember, if a child is frightened by a dachshund and tries to run away, that will very likely stimulate the dachshund to chase and bite the child.
There is a solution to this potentially dangerous situation is to work with the dog when it is young, particularly instilling discipline, along with the realization within the dog that the owner is in charge and making the rules.
Adhering to this principle more than any other factor will enable the dog to learn to be calm. Researchers have noted that 40% of aggressive behavior in dogs of all breeds is a result of owners not instilling necessary obedience in their dogs through consistent training and reinforcement (source).
This principle is especially true with dachshunds. Consistently reinforced training and disciple are key elements in helping this breed learn to remain calm.
What Does My Dachshund Need from Me?
As discussed, if an owner wants to help a dachshund overcome its natural, excitable tendencies and remain a peaceful member of the family, several important steps must be taken.
The first six months of life are the best period for socializing the animal, instilling discipline, and building the sort of relationship that will dictate the dog’s course throughout its life. Late-life training is possible but tends to be more difficult.
Dachshunds are legendary for their stubbornness as much as their intelligence. Patience is the most important quality an owner must possess or learn. These dogs do not respond well to anger, as they are quite sensitive to the owner’s emotions.
Introducing other Pets & People
Intentional introduction of other animals and human beings coached on how to interact with the dog is an important element that encourages calmness and diminishes aggression.
Being Present while the Dog Eats
Since everything surrounding feeding is especially significant to the dog, making certain that the owner is passively present will contribute to the overall peace of mind in the dachshund.
Eating in front of the Dog
When an owner eats in front of the dachshund, it conveys the message that the human controls food, feeding, and the eating schedule. This contributes to the dog’s sense that the owner is the master and, in turn, to the dog’s serenity.
What Should I Expect From My Dachshund as It Ages?
As is the case with some breeds of dogs, purebred dachshunds tend toward certain ailments. Beyond working to maintain the overall health of a dog as it ages, it is important to recognize that some conditions a dog experiences will detract from its calm demeanor.
This is especially the case when an aging dog finds itself in unrelenting physical discomfort or loses certain physical abilities.
Regarding illness and disabilities, it is important to note that dachshunds are known to be subject to several debilitating conditions that can conceivably impair its calmness. Dachshunds are prone to spinal column issues and, over time, this breed may suffer IVDD (intervertebral disk disease).
Some Common Ailments
There are also a couple of congenital defects that will worsen with the dog’s age, which will disrupt its peaceful demeanor. These include patellar luxation (bad kneecaps) and osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) (source).
Dachshunds who are suffering, particularly with IVDD, will show symptoms like becoming more anxious, difficulty standing or moving, crying out suddenly, and hunching their shoulders or backs. They may even grow malcontent or unable to rise at all.
Some dachshunds also suffer from eye and ear conditions that may lead to visual impairment, deafness, and excessive shedding.
How to Avoid Common Ailments
The owner’s best course to help the dog avoid this common ailment is to make sure the dog does not become obese. Along with weight, an owner will want to avoid excessively rough handling, jumping, or the sort of extreme exercise that strains the dog’s back.
While the owner should avoid overly strenuous exercise, it is important to remember that these dogs thrive on exercise. Breeders intended for these dogs to work long hours. An hour a day of exercise is suitable to keep their back muscles strong and supportive of their spines (source).
A key issue here is that dogs with these undiagnosed conditions may be irritable because of untreated chronic pain. Since, even as smart as they are, dachshunds cannot talk, an owner needs to know how to tell if a dog is in pain.
To counter the effect these conditions have on the dog, the owner must be patient, gentle, and affectionate. In this way, the owner can contribute to the dog’s ability to deal calmly with debilitating conditions.
Dachshunds are legendary creatures, and not merely because at 600 years old, they are one of the earliest purebred dog varieties. They are iconic dogs because of their appearance, their characteristics, and their startling abilities.
One of the greatest concerns owners have about this breed is how to deal with such a high-energy dog. Owners wonder if their dachshunds will ever settle down and stay calm.
There are several steps an owner can do to promote calmness in their dachshund, such as early training, consistent disciplining, and neutering, however, the single most important thing to do is to interact with the dog daily.
An owner needs to be patient and let their dachshund know their expectations, so both dog and owner can have peace of mind.