General Appearance - Low to ground, long in body and short of leg, with robust muscular development; the skin is elastic and pliable without excessive wrinkling. Appearing neither crippled, awkward, nor cramped in his capacity for movement, the Dachshund is well balanced with bold and confident head carriage and intelligent, alert facial expression. His hunting spirit, good nose, loud tongue and distinctive build make him well-suited for below-ground work and for beating the bush. His keen nose gives him an advantage over most other breeds for trailing. NOTE: Inasmuch as the Dachshund is a hunting dog, scars from honorable wounds shall not be considered a fault.

Size, Proportion, Substance - Bred and shown in two sizes, standard and miniature; miniatures are not a separate classification but compete in a class division for "11 pounds and under at 12 months of age and older." Weight of the standard size is usually between 16 and 32 pounds. 

Head - Viewed from above or from the side, the head tapers uniformly to the tip of the nose. The eyes are of medium size, almond-shaped and dark-rimmed, with an energetic, pleasant expression; not piercing; very dark in color. The bridge bones over the eyes are strongly prominent. Wall eyes, except in the case of dappled dogs, are a serious fault. The ears are set near the top of the head, not too far forward, of moderate length, rounded, not narrow, pointed, or folded. Their carriage, when animated, is with the forward edge just touching the cheek so that the ears frame the face. The skull is slightly arched, neither too broad nor too narrow, and slopes gradually with little perceptible stop into the finely-formed, slightly arched muzzle, giving a Roman appearance. Lips are tightly stretched, well covering the lower jaw. Nostrils well open. Jaws opening wide and hinged well back of the eyes, with strongly developed bones and teeth. Teeth - Powerful canine teeth; teeth fit closely together in a scissors bite. An even bite is a minor fault. Any other deviation is a serious fault.

Neck - Long, muscular, clean-cut, without dewlap, slightly arched in the nape, flowing gracefully into the shoulders without creating the impression of a right angle.

Trunk - The trunk is long and fully muscled. When viewed in profile, the back lies in the straightest possible line between the withers and the short, very slightly arched loin. A body that hangs loosely between the shoulders is a serious fault. Abdomen - Slightly drawn up.

Forequarters - For effective underground work, the front must be strong, deep, long and cleanly muscled. Forequarters in detail: Chest - The breast-bone is strongly prominent in front so that on either side a depression or dimple appears. When viewed from the front, the thorax appears oval and extends downward to the mid-point of the forearm. The enclosing structure of the well-sprung ribs appears full and oval to allow, by its ample capacity, complete development of heart and lungs. The keel merges gradually into the line of the abdomen and extends well beyond the front legs. Viewed in profile, the lowest point of the breast line is covered by the front leg. Shoulder blades - Long, broad, well laid back and firmly placed upon the fully developed thorax, closely fitted at the withers, furnished with hard yet pliable muscles. Upper Arm - Ideally the same length as the shoulder blade and at right angles to the latter, strong of bone and hard of muscle, lying close to the ribs, with elbows close to the body, yet capable of free movement. Forearm – Short; supplied with hard yet pliable muscles on the front and outside, with tightly stretched tendons on the inside and at the back, slightly curved inwards. The joints between the forearms and the feet (wrists) are closer together than the shoulder joints, so that the front does not appear absolutely straight. The inclined shoulder blades, upper arms and curved forearms form parentheses that enclose the ribcage, creating the correct “wraparound front.” Knuckling over is a disqualifying fault. Feet - Front paws are full, tight, compact, with well-arched toes and tough, thick pads. They may be equally inclined a trifle outward. There are five toes, four in use, close together with a pronounced arch and strong, short nails. Front dewclaws may be removed.

Hindquarters - Strong and cleanly muscled. The pelvis, the thigh, the second thigh, and the rear pastern are ideally the same length and give the appearance of a series of right angles. From the rear, the thighs are strong and powerful. The legs turn neither in nor out. Rear pasterns - Short and strong, perpendicular to the second thigh bone. When viewed from behind, they are upright and parallel. Feet - Hind Paws - Smaller than the front paws with four compactly closed and arched toes with tough, thick pads. The entire foot points straight ahead and is balanced equally on the ball and not merely on the toes. Rear dewclaws should be removed. Croup - Long, rounded and full, sinking slightly toward the tail. Tail - Set in continuation of the spine, extending without kinks, twists, or pronounced curvature, and not carried too gaily.

Gait - Fluid and smooth. Forelegs reach well forward, without much lift, in unison with the driving action of hind legs. The correct shoulder assembly and well-fitted elbows allow the long, free stride in front. Viewed from the front, the legs do not move in exact parallel planes, but incline slightly inward. Hind legs drive on a line with the forelegs, with hock joints and rear pasterns (metatarsus) turning neither in nor out. The propulsion of the hind leg depends on the dog's ability to carry the hind leg to complete extension. Viewed in profile, the forward reach of the hind leg equals the rear extension. The thrust of correct movement is seen when the rear pads are clearly exposed during rear extension. Rear feet do not reach upward toward the abdomen and there is no appearance of walking on the rear pasterns. Feet must travel parallel to the line of motion with no tendency to swing out, cross over, or interfere with each other. Short, choppy movement, rolling or high-stepping gait, close or overly wide coming or going are incorrect. The Dachshund must have agility, freedom of movement, and endurance to do the work for which he was developed.

Temperament - The Dachshund is clever, lively and courageous to the point of rashness, persevering in above- and below-ground work, with all the senses well developed. Any display of shyness is a serious fault.

Special Characteristics of the Three Coat Varieties - The Dachshund is bred with three varieties of coat: (1) Smooth; (2) Wirehaired; (3) Longhaired and is shown in two sizes, standard and miniature. All three varieties and both sizes must conform to the characteristics already specified. The following features are applicable for each variety:

Smooth Dachshund -Coat - Short, smooth and shining. Should be neither too long nor too thick. Ears not leathery. Tail - Gradually tapered to a point, well but not too richly haired. Long sleek bristles on the underside are considered a patch of strong-growing hair, not a fault. A brush tail is a fault, as is also a partly or wholly hairless tail. Color of Hair - Although base color is immaterial, certain patterns and basic colors predominate. One-colored Dachshunds include red and cream, with or without a shading of interspersed dark hairs. A small amount of white on the chest is acceptable, but not desirable. Nose and nails - black.
Two-colored Dachshunds include black, chocolate, wild boar, gray (blue) and fawn (Isabella), each with deep, rich tan or cream markings over the eyes, on the sides of the jaw and underlip, on the inner edge of the ear, front, breast, sometimes on the throat, inside and behind the front legs, on the paws and around the anus, and from there to about one-third to one-half of the length of the tail on the underside. Undue prominence of tan or cream markings is undesirable. A small amount of white on the chest is acceptable but not desirable. Nose and nails - in the case of black dogs, black; for chocolate and all other colors, dark brown, but self-colored is acceptable. 

Dappled dachshunds - The dapple (merle) pattern is expressed as lighter-colored areas contrasting with the darker base color, which may be any acceptable color. Neither the light nor the dark color should predominate. Nose and nails are the same as for one- and two-colored Dachshunds. Partial or wholly blue (wall) eyes are as acceptable as dark eyes. A large area of white on the chest of a dapple is permissible. 

Brindle is a pattern (as opposed to a color) in which black or dark stripes occur over the entire body although in some specimens the pattern may be visible only in the tan points. 

Sable – the sable pattern consists of a uniform dark overlay on red dogs. The overlay hairs are double-pigmented, with the tip of each hair much darker than the base color. The pattern usually displays a widow’s peak on the head. Nose, nails and eye rims are black. Eyes are dark, the darker the better.

Wirehaired Dachshunds - Coat - With the exception of jaw, eyebrows, and ears, the whole body is covered with a uniform tight, short, thick, rough, hard, outer coat but with finer, somewhat softer, shorter hairs (undercoat) everywhere distributed between the coarser hairs. The absence of an undercoat is a fault. The distinctive facial furnishings include a beard and eyebrows. On the ears the hair is shorter than on the body, almost smooth. The general arrangement of the hair is such that the wirehaired Dachshund, when viewed from a distance, resembles the smooth. Any sort of soft hair in the outercoat, wherever found on the body, especially on the top of the head, is a fault. The same is true of long, curly, or wavy hair, or hair that sticks out irregularly in all directions. Tail - Robust, thickly haired, gradually tapering to a point. A flag tail is a fault. Color of Hair - While the most common colors are wild boar, black and tan, and various shades of red, all colors and patterns listed above are admissible. 

Wild boar (agouti) appears as banding of the individual hairs and imparts an overall grizzled effect which is most often seen on wirehaired Dachshunds, but may also appear on other coats. Tan points may or may not be evident. Variations include red boar and chocolate-and-tan boar. Nose, nails and eye rims are black on wild-boar and red-boar dachshunds. On chocolate-and-tan-boar dachshunds, nose, nails, eye rims and eyes are self-colored, the darker the better. 

A small amount of white on the chest, although acceptable, is not desirable. Nose and nails - same as for the smooth variety.

Longhaired Dachshund - Coat - The sleek, glistening, often slightly wavy hair is longer under the neck and on forechest, the underside of the body, the ears and behind the legs. The coat gives the dog an elegant appearance. Short hair on the ear is not desirable. Too profuse a coat which masks type, equally long hair over the whole body, a curly coat, or a pronounced parting on the back are faults. Tail - Carried gracefully in prolongation of the spine; the hair attains its greatest length here and forms a veritable flag. Color of Hair - Same as for the smooth Dachshund. Nose and nails - same as for the smooth.

The foregoing description is that of the ideal Dachshund. Any deviation from the above described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation keeping in mind the importance of the contribution of the various features toward the basic original purpose of the breed.

DISQUALIFICATION: Knuckling over of front legs.

Approved January 8, 2007

Effective March 1, 2007

 Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)

Small breed dogs with short, thick legs such as the Dachshund, Bassett Hound and Beagle are at the highest risk of intervertebral disc disease, which develops earlier in these dogs (ages 3 to 7) versus other dogs (ages 8 to 10). About one in every four Dachshunds will suffer from disc-related problems in its lifetime. Dogs suffering spinal cord trauma are also at a high risk of IVDD and should see a veterinarian immediately, especially if they are paralyzed. 

Vertebrae are separated by soft tissue, which acts as shock absorbers, called intervertebral discs. The intervertebral discs form an elastic cushion between the vertebrae, which allows movement, minimizes trauma and shock and helps connect the spinal column. With age, the inner part of the intervertebral disc (nucleus pulposus) degenerates, decreases its water content, becomes hard and finally loses its elastic cushioning function.

In Dachshund, Beagle, Shih Tzu and other toy breeds this process occurs at young age. These breeds tend also to have the acute form of intervertebral disc extrusion (type I), in which the inner part of the intervertebral disc extrudes into the spinal canal and compresses the spinal cord. 

German Shepherd, Belgian Shepherd and large sized dogs in general tend to have the chronic form of disc protrusion (type II) in which the inner and the external part (annulus fibrosus) of the intervertebral disc degenerates. Usually clinical signs occur at middle age and are slow and progressive. 

Initially, especially in the acute form in which the intervertebral disc compresses the spinal cord, mild to severe pain is present. In later stages of intervertebral disc disease, dogs may have incoordination, paralysis and loss of bladder control.

Early treatments for IVDD may be simple cage rest in which the dog is restricted from jumping. Treatment with corticosteroids to alleviate spinal cord pain can be dangerous because dogs that are pain-free tend to become more active (instead of rest) with the consequence that additional intervertebral disc can herniate and irreversibly compress the already damaged spinal cord. 

Surgical therapy is used if the dog is not improving or getting worse with cage rest and if signs of incoordination are present. Surgery should be performed immediately if signs of paralysis are present. If a dog suffering paralysis from a compressed or slipped disc goes without surgery for more than 24 hours, the damage may become permanent

By Dr. Simon Petersen-Jones

 Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is the name given to a group of conditions that are inherited and result in a progressive loss of vision leading to blindness. The disease targets the photoreceptors in the retina. These are the cells that convert the picture formed on the retina at the back of the eye into electrical messages that are conveyed to the brain, the retina being the equivalent of the film in a camera.

Several different forms of PRA occur with each different form being caused by a different gene mutation. PRA is described in many breeds of dog, with one survey reporting that over 100 different breeds may suffer from it. It is known that some forms of PRA affect more than one breed of dog, for example the progressive rod cone degeneration (prcd) form of PRA is known to affect several different breeds. However, other forms of PRA seem to be breed-specific. 

It is therefore difficult to predict how many different forms of PRA exist. Research into retinitis pigmentosa in humans, which is the human equivalent of PRA, shows that there are over 30 different forms and over 130 genes known to cause hereditary retinal diseases of all forms. We can expect that dogs suffer from a many different forms of PRA. The retina is a complex structure and its formation and continued function are controlled by a large number of genes.

Potentially mutations in any of the genes that govern retinal structure and function could cause a disease such as PRA. The potentially large numbers of different forms of PRA makes studies to detect the gene mutation that causes the disease in any one breed difficult.

Inheritance patterns of PRA 

The majority of forms of PRA are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, although dominant and X-linked forms have been identified. Autosomal recessive diseases require that both copies of the disease gene are abnormal for the dog to develop the disease itself. Thus one abnormal copy of the gene is received from the dam and one from the sire. Dogs that have one abnormal copy and one normal copy are described as carriers. Carriers do not develop the disease themselves but they will pass on the abnormal gene to approximately 50% of their offspring. This has the effect that the condition will skip generations. Recessive diseases are particularly difficult to eradicate without a genetic test. 

Where there is no genetic test carriers can only be identified by test mating with a known affected animal and seeing if the offspring become affected. To stand a very good chance that the test dog is not a carrier several clear offspring must be produced from the mating with the known affected dog. To achieve the required number of offspring more than one litter may be needed. For diseases that cannot be diagnosed until the affected dogs are several years of age test-mating is not a practical proposition. Diseases that cannot be diagnosed until the affected dogs are several years of age have the added complication that affected dogs have often been bred from before the diagnosis is made.

The affect that PRA has on a dog 

PRA causes a loss of the cells in the retina that detect light (the photoreceptors). Photoreceptors come in two main types; rods for dim light vision, and cones for bright light color vision. With PRA the rod photoreceptors die first followed by the cone photoreceptors. Therefore the affected dogs lose nighttime vision initially followed by daytime vision, until they are totally blind. The onset and speed of vision loss varies between the types of PRA. Some forms result in night-blindness in puppies followed by total blindness in the first few years of life, whereas other forms have an onset in middle-age and result in blindness several years later.

Owners may notice that the pupils of a PRA-affected dog seems more dilated than those of their other dogs. There is also an increased reflection of light from the back of the eye (eye shine) that is made more obvious by the more widely dilated pupils. Secondary cataract is common with the later-onset forms of PRA. Indeed owners will assume that the loss of vision is due to the formation of cataracts. Veterinary ophthalmologists will always rule out the presence of PRA prior to performing cataract surgery on a dog.

Eye Examinations to Detect PRA 

Regular eye examinations are useful in detecting PRA. The changes the ophthalmologists can see are an increased reflection from the tapetum of the eye. The tapetum is a highly reflective structure in the wall of the upper part of the back of the eye. It underlies the retina and reflects light back through the retina to help increase vision in dim light. The tapetum is responsible for the colored reflection seen from the eyes of animals caught in a car's headlights. When the retina becomes thinned due to PRA it allows even more reflection of light back from the tapetum. 

This appearance is described as tapetal hyperreflectivity. The next change the ophthalmologist looks for is a thinning of the blood vessels that overlie the retina. Because the retina is dieing these blood vessels that supply the retina do not need to supply so much blood. The vessels transmitting less blood look thinned. This can first be seen in the smaller blood vessels.

Electroretinograms to Detect PRA

The electroretinogram is a technique for assessing the function of the retina. When a flash of light is shone into the eye it triggers electrical activity in the retina. This response, the electroretinogram (ERG), can be recorded at the surface of the eye. The ERG can be a sensitive detector of early generalized retinal dysfunction and can therefore be useful in the early diagnosis of PRA. It is important to realize that there are different standards of ERG. The sort of ERG that is commonly used by veterinary ophthalmologists to check that that the retina is functioning before removing a cataract is quite different from the detailed ERG needed for early detection of PRA.

General anesthesia and a quite extensive protocol measuring responses to flashes of different light intensities and sometimes different colors of light is required for early PRA detection. The ERG responses vary a lot between different breeds of dog and with age, so to detect early changes in the ERG tracings due to the early stages of PRA it is important that the normal responses for the breed and age of the dog are already known. This means that a database of normal ERG responses needs to be established for the breed prior to detecting early PRA changes.