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Breed Priorities – The Dachshund

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250 – The Annual,2015-16

By Nikki Riggsbee


In AKC, Dachshunds come in three coats – smooth, longhaired, and wirehaired – that compete separately as varieties. The breed also comes in two sizes – standard and miniature, defined by weight – which are usually divided into two open classes. FCI also has the three coat divisions for the breed, but they have three size classifications as well: rabbit (up to 30 cm chest circumference), miniature (from 30 to 35 cm chest circumference), and standard (up to 19.84 pounds). In AKC, the three best of variety Dachshunds show in the hound group. In FCI, all the coat and size varieties are shown separately, and the nine BOV winners compete in a separate group just for Dachshunds.

We found sixty-one AKC Dachshund breeder-judges with email addresses to invite to take a survey on their breed’s priorities. Forty agreed to participate, and twenty-seven surveys were returned. Some judge only Dachshunds or a few other breeds, while others are multiple group judges. The group averaged over 32 years in the breed and averaged of over 11 years judging. As with other smaller breeds, there were several breeder-judges with over thirty, forty, and even fifty years in the breed. Almost all have judged Dachshund specialties, and many have judged their national.

Prioritizing Virtues

The breeder-judges were given a list of virtues from the Dachshund standard to prioritize from the most important to the least important. Below is the list of Dachshund characteristics in sequence by the breeder-judges’ average ranks, with 1 being the most important. Two of the participants did not rank the virtues, so these results were from twenty-five surveys.

1. Forelegs reach well forward and driving action of hind legs

2. Body long and low

3. Breastbone strongly prominent

4. Keel merges gradually into abdomen & extends well beyond front legs

5. Back straight between withers and loin

6. Thorax extends downward to the mid-point of the forearm

7. Pelvis, thigh, second thigh, and metatarsus the same length, forming a series of right angles

8. Courageous to the point of rashness

9. Long, muscular, clean-cut neck

10. Forearm slightly curved inwards

11. Tail a continuation of the spine, without kinks, twists, or pronounced curvature

12. Eyes medium size, almond-shaped and dark-rimmed, very dark in color

13. Feet tight, compact, with well-arched toes and tough, thick pads

14. Finely-formed, slightly arched muzzle

15. Ears set near the top of the head, not too far forward, of moderate length, rounded

16. Nostrils well open

The breeder-judges had majority agreement on all but four characteristics. The most agreement was on “Ears set near the top of the head, not too far forward, of moderate length, rounded” (15th), followed by “Nostrils well open” (16th), and then “Pelvis, thigh, second thigh, and metatarsus the same length, forming a series of right angles” (7th).

Seventeen of the group concurred on “Forelegs reach well forward and driving action of hind legs” (1st). Most of the first place ranks among the virtue were split among “Reach and drive” (1st), “Body long and low,” (2nd), “Back straight,” (7th) and “Courageous” (8th).

Several features had sixty-four percent agreement: “Body long and low” (2nd), “Keel merges gradually into abdomen & extends well beyond front legs” (4th), and “Finely-formed, slightly arched muzzle” (14th). Almost as many similarly ranked “Thorax extends downward to the mid-point of the forearm” (6th), “Long, muscular, clean-cut neck: (9th), and “Feet tight, compact, with well-arched toes and tough, thick pads” (13th).

“Breastbone strongly prominent” (3rd) had fourteen put it in the top quartile, although eight put it in the second quartile, lowering its rank. The smallest majority put “Back straight between withers and loin” (5th) in the top quartile, but others placed it lower, thus lowering its relative rank.

Those characteristics that did not garner a majority did have nearly half in agreement. These included “Tail a continuation of the spine, without kinks, twists, or pronounced curvature” (11th) and “Eyes medium size, almond-shaped and dark-rimmed, very dark in color” (12th).

Two others also had twelve agreeing, but with split decisions. “Courageous to the point of rashness” (8th) had the bigger group place it in the top quartile, but ten had it near the bottom. Perhaps this is another instance of when temperament isn’t a problem, people rank it as less important. “Forearm slightly curved inwards” (10th) had almost half place it at midpoint or somewhat above average, while eight experts thought it distinctly below average in importance.

Some average ranks were so close that additional input could change the relative sequence. The third and fourth virtues (“Prominent breastbone” and “Keel”) were within fractions of each other and are related virtues. “Thorax extends downward to the mid-point of the forearm” (6th) and “Pelvis, thigh, second thigh, and metatarsus the same length, forming a series of right angles” (7th) were less than a tenth of a point apart.

Ranking Faults

The breeder-judges also ranked a list of Dachshund faults taken directly or indirectly from the standard. The following is the list of faults in sequence by the experts’ average rank, from most serious to least serious, with 1 being the most serious. Again, two experts did not rank faults, so this is a result from twenty-five surveys.

1. Shyness

2. tie Short, choppy movement

2. tie Body hangs loosely between the shoulders

4. Shoulder blades not well-laid back

5. Back not straight

6. High-stepping gait

7. Front appearing straight when forearms not curved inwards and pastern joints not closer together than shoulder joints

8. Upper arm not same length as shoulder blade

9. Trunk not long

10. Overshot bite

11. Legs appearing longer when chest does not extend downward to the mid-point of the forearm

12. Short neck

13. Tail carried too gaily

14. Muzzle straight, not slightly arched

15. Ears narrow, pointed, or folded

16. Even bite

All but two of the surveys had “Even bite” (16th) in the bottom quartile. “Ears narrow, pointed, or folded” had twenty-two agreeing, and “Muzzle straight, not slightly arched” had twenty-one. As with the first list, Dachshund breeder-judges had greater unanimity on the least important virtues and faults.

Nineteen experts agreed that “Shyness” (1st) was most important; in fact, a majority placed it first overall. As noted, temperament is very important when there is a problem. Sixty percent of the group valued “Shoulder blades not well-laid back” (4th) moderately important.

Three faults had fourteen breeder-judges in agreement: “Front appearing straight when forearms not curved inwards and pastern joints not closer together than shoulder joints” (7th), “Upper arm not same length as shoulder blade” (8th), and “Tail carried too gaily” (13th). “Straight front” (7th) had a third of the experts consider it noticeably more important than the majority did; and forty percent placed “Gay tail” as more serious than the majority.

Slightly more than fifty percent concurred on “Short neck” (12th). Almost as many ranked “High-stepping gait” (6th) and “Legs appearing longer when chest does not extend downward to the mid-point of the forearm” (11th) similarly.

Almost half agreed on “Short, choppy movement” (tied at 2nd), “Body hangs loosely between the shoulders” (tied at 2nd), “Back not straight” (5th) and “Overshot bite” (10th). “Trunk not long” (8th) was placed all over, although ten agreed on its being middling below average while nine had it in the second quartile.

Several faults had bi-polar results, even some with majority agreement. “Legs longer/chest depth” (11th) had a bare majority put it lower in the third quartile, while nearly forty percent had it as much more serious. “Short choppy movement” (tied for 2nd) had eleven in the most serious quartile, but the same number ranked it a quarter lower. A similar distribution was found in the ranks for “Body hangs loosely” (tied for 2nd).

“Back not straight” (5th) was very important for eleven, but eight in the fourth quartile lowered the average. “High stepping” (6th) had a similar split. “Overshot” (10th) was middling important for less than half, but six think it very important.

Additional input would break the tie at second. It might also change the rank of “Shoulder blades not laid back” (4th) which was less than a tenth of a point behind the tied faults. “Straight forearms” (7th) and “Upper arm length” (8th) were also very close.

There was a gap of two points between “Lacking chest depth” (11th) and “Short neck” (12th) and more than two points between “Short neck” and “Gay tail” (13th), placing the last four, perhaps the last five definitely as not serious.

Most faults had majorities, although not as many as virtues. Front virtues ranked more consistently highly than did front faults. While “Body hanging between shoulders” (tied at 2nd) and “Shoulders not laid back” (4th), placed highly, several other front faults placed mid-list or lower: “Straight front” (7th), “Upper arm length: (8th), and “Depth of chest” (11th).

Correct side gait movement was the highest ranked virtue, and “Short, choppy movement” was tied for second most serious among the faults. The group was consistent between the lists on topline, tail, muzzle, and ears. “Courageous” (8th) was midpoint in importance as a virtue, but “Shyness” (1st) was the most important fault. Body length was important as a virtue, but only moderately serious as a fault.

Essential Characteristics

The breeder-judges were asked to name four to six characteristics that a Dachshund must have, the primary characteristics that they look for when they judge. Consistent with the priority list of virtues, the breeder-judges listed movement most often. Front assembly, including forechest, keel, shoulder angulation, and wrap front, was a strong second. Temperament was close behind, some feeling that shyness was too often excused; this was consistent with the group’s prioritizing of faults. Balance was mentioned frequently, as was breed type, defined as outline, front, and head. The group also valued a level topline.

One feature noted that isn’t explicitly named in the Dachshund standard is underline. The correct Dachshund underline is a product of prominent forechest, good length of keel and rib cage, and placement of the front assembly.


The judges were asked to place six Dachshund dogs and six Dachshund bitches based on outlines only. The outlines were of real dogs, but not current ones. So none was perfect. Before reading further, select your Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex from the Dachshund outlines here. The breeder-judges’ placements of the outlines were averaged to determine their collective selections.

The top male based on the best average placement was Dachshund “A;” he was also placed first by more than half of the breeder-judges. Those who selected him said he had the “best balance,” a “better head,” “very good topline…well crested neck,” “short hocks,” better “front assembly,” “best outline and keel,” “front well under,” “good long back,” and good “ear set.”

Dachshund “E” had the next best average and was placed first by five judges. Those who picked “E” said he had “balance, type, good front assembly,” “good shoulder layback, nice ground clearance, nice bend of stifle,” “proper position of feet under withers,” and “not too extreme.”

The bitch with the best average placement and the most first placements among the bitches was Dachshund “V.” Those who chose her said she had a “good topline, head, & underline, good front,” “lovely outline,” “well balanced, lovely neck and bend of stifle, good forechest,” “excellent balance and type,” “short hocks…clean underline,” and “good prow…good tail carriage.”

Close behind was Dachshund bitch “W.” Those who picked her said “feminine, typey, lovely balanced outline,” “correct head, neck, front, underline, and back,” “cleaner outline and balance,” “correct head, ears, keel, and neck,” and “nice tailset…nice flow of neck into withers.”

Overall, the breeder-judges thought the quality was much higher in the outlines of bitches compared to the outlines of dogs. The highest average placement of Dachshund “A” may have been the result of his being the best of a mediocre bunch of dogs. Several bitches were thought to be good and therefore shared the top placements. Bitch “V” was selected Best of Breed by almost a third of the breeder-judges, even though dog “A” had more first placements and a higher average placement score. Next most often named BOB were Dachshund W and Dachshund X, all bitches. Dog “A” was the only dog awarded BOB more than once.

Additional Comments

Some of the comments offered by the Dachshund breeder-judges are the following:

• The longer I judge, the more I realize the importance of looking at the sum of the parts and not fault judging.

• Type incorporates an acceptable outline, a correct front, and a headpiece that is unmistakably a Dachshund.

• First and foremost, the Dachshund should be balanced and not over-exaggerated.

• Ribbing and keel are absolutely essential for a strong back that can support the length of body in this breed.

• Most anyone can make a dog look good stacked; soundness is of the utmost importance and can only be observed on the move.

• The hallmark of the breed is the forechest with a prominent breastbone with a dimple on each side.

• I place great emphasis on a dog’s ability to keep its correct form while moving.

• These are hunting dogs that must be athletic.

• First and foremost is temperament; if they don’t have good temperament, I would not even consider them.

• Carriage is outline on the move.

• The front of the Dachshund is what makes the breed

Thanks to all the Dachshund breeder-judges who shared their expertise.

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Posted by on Jan 8 2016. Filed under Current Articles, Editorial, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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