Dogs of all breeds can make excellent companions and fine additions to the household. The important thing is to understand the type of dog you are getting and what to expect when raising them.
Dachshunds are particularly aggressive because they have been selectively bred for centuries to hunt small game. Even to this day, owners use them for hunting small birds and similarly-sized quarry. This hunting instinct can be very difficult to control, but you can certainly manage it with the right training and patience.
In this article, we will discuss just how aggressive dachshunds are and why they are this way. We will explore a bit about their history and then look at ways to spot potential aggression and the best ways you can deal with it.
Are Dachshunds Actually Aggressive?
There are slightly differing opinions on the topic of dachshund aggression. Some studies have put them low on the list of aggressive dogs, while others have ranked them as the most aggressive breed (source).
The truth is that all dogs, even those from the same breed, are going to be unique. Some will have traits that make them more prone to aggressive tendencies.
Additionally, humans have been selectively breeding dogs for many centuries and have steadily whittled away the more aggressive and wild temperaments of this animal.
From the wild dogs that first started cohabitating with man millennia ago, these modern house pets have come an astounding way.
For the potential dog owner, this translates to a comforting result, that dogs of all breeds are fundamentally familiar with living alongside their humans.
Recently, though, there has been a recognizable shift in this dynamic. Modern dog owners are often less adept at training and managing these animals than their ancestors were, and dog breeding has started to lean more toward aesthetics than temperament management (source).
This has contributed to the aggressive image of the dachshund significantly.
In total, the dachshund is certainly one of the more susceptible breeds when it comes to aggressive tendencies. Let us look at why they have developed this way.
Why Dachshunds Are Aggressive
The main reason many consider the dachshund as aggressive is due to its rather recent history. Since the early 17th century, this breed of dog has been used for hunting all manner of smaller animals. The most notable of this is the badger, for which the breed acquired its name (source).
In German, dach means badger, so the name literally translates to “badger dog.” If you are not familiar with the nature of badgers, they are aggressive and powerful little creatures. Their sharp claws and underground tunnels make them very difficult to hunt.
Badgers are also around the same size as a dachshund, so to hunt these horrid little creatures, the dogs had to learn some important survival tactics. At the top of this list is aggression.
Being angry and nippy meant that they were more likely to handle confrontation with these wild creatures. Due to the burrows that badgers called home, dachshunds needed to be able to dig underground and fend off anything they encountered in that small space.
Breeding for these qualities produced their biting habits as well as their tendency to dig holes in the ground. On top of this, they would often be separated from their owners joining them on the hunt, as they were deep in the badger’s burrows, and so had to develop independent natures (source).
This has led to some of their notable stubbornness, as well as a willingness to act on their own.
Being hunting dogs, they are also used to a significant amount of training and outdoor activity. Deprived of these aspects, they are likely to get restless and bored. These traits can lead to further aggression and actions connected with this, like biting and chasing.
They also depend on a leadership hierarchy that they have experienced throughout their hunting history.
Owners need to establish themselves as the alpha in their relationship; otherwise, they can end up encouraging the more aggressive tendencies of the dogs. If you are not their master, then you are more likely competition than a friend.
Another factor that contributes to the potentially aggressive nature of these dogs is that of their small size.
Small dog syndrome is a well-known condition that rears its head most commonly in smaller breeds of dogs. However, it is not due to the size of the animal necessarily, but rather the way humans tend to treat smaller creatures.
Owners of small dogs often overprotect them, regarding their petite stature as requiring additional support. With pack animals like the dachshund, this coddling often leads them to adopt the alpha role in the relationship (source).
When we allow for misbehavior due to their smaller size, they quickly take advantage of this, and it can easily lead to increased aggression and stubbornness towards their owners.
Given the size and adorableness of dachshunds, they are certainly susceptible to this condition. This can compound with the underlying aggression induced into these dogs throughout their history.
Combined, this explains why dachshunds often end up high on the list of aggressive dogs, especially if you do not address these tendencies at an early age.
Fortunately, their history has also accustomed them to the training from their master. A well-trained and well-treated dachshund can make a fantastic pet.
Recognizing Unwanted Tendencies
Various triggers can lead to an increase in aggression with dogs, especially dachshunds that are already likely to experience this behavior. Being aware of these and following the necessary guidelines for curbing such tendencies can serve to bring much needed calm to the animal.
Anxiety in dogs can lead to a variety of disruptive behavior, including potentially aggressive actions like barking and chasing. The main triggers for anxiety in a dachshund are boredom and separation anxiety (source).
The reality is that most dog breeds, and especially the dachshund, are pack animals. When employed for hunting, they often do so in packs. This has developed a need for close companionship, whether with other animals or their owners.
Deprivation of this companionship can lead to a whole slew of outbreak behaviors and destructive tendencies.
To gain attention and help subdue some of their anxiety, they will bark, chew, run around, and generally attempt to display this discomfort to their owners. This can easily lead to further aggressive mannerisms unless addressed and dealt with as soon as possible.
According to Husker’s Hope Dachshund Rescue NPO, there is an important difference between aggressive behaviors and true aggression. The latter is caused by some form of significant trauma in the individual dog’s life.
These can be such that they are hard-coded into the unwitting animal and require specialized dog trainers to subdue. For the most part, this applies to all animals; once sufficiently mistreated, they can easily lose any sense of trust.
Beyond avoiding the obvious mistreatment of the dog, owners can observe more subtle issues that can lead to aggressive behaviors. These include the likes of kennel, leash, fence, food, and toy aggression.
Due to its breeding and nature, the dachshund is prone to each and, without the required care, can see a notable uptick in aggressive behavior.
Kennel, Leash, and Fence Aggression
With kennel, leash, and even fence situations, the dachshunds are not used to this sort of confinement. Remember, they are natural hunters and, as such, enjoy and thrive in open, free spaces. Locking them in rooms or tying them to objects with a leash for long periods can have detrimental effects.
By taking them on regular walks and providing them with a sense of freedom and exercise, they are less likely to act out.
It is important to note that keeping them on a leash for these walks is still advisable because of the independent nature and hunting instincts of the dachshunds. However, showing them they can go outside, and staying close and connected with them, will help to calm their more aggressive tendencies in this regard.
Food and Toy Aggression
Food, and the way it is presented, can also trigger certain hunting instincts that otherwise might remain dormant in a dachshund. This breed of dog has developed an understanding of respect around food, be it toward their owners or any other competing animals.
Governing the time that they eat and ensuring they are not forced to fight for food with other dogs can go a long way in preventing aggressive tendencies. This sense of possessiveness over their food can also be seen with toys, blankets, and anything else the dog believes they own.
Again, largely due to their hunting instincts, they are prone to hoarding, whether it is food or playthings. Establishing an understanding between yourself and the dog over who owns what is vital to keeping their aggression at bay.
This also links to the territorial side of all dogs’ natures. Hunting dogs are especially territorial and require clearly established guidelines over where they may and may not roam.
An important thing to note when managing these tendencies of your dachshund is to use positive reinforcement over negative ones. This breed responds much better with rewards for doing things correctly than punishments for any wrongs committed. Punishments can also lead to side effects like increased aggression and anxiety.
The dachshund is clearly a breed of dog inclined towards aggressive tendencies. Given their hunting history, it is also clear as to why this may be the case. However, with the right training and proper communication with your dog, they can make truly remarkable and loyal pets. Happy hunting!