Described as “friendly, curious, and spunky” by the American Kennel Club, it is no surprise Dachshunds are loved worldwide. However, what may surprise you is how these wonderful dogs secured their spot as the most popular dog in America.
Let’s take a look at how this breed that’s been around for centuries became a beloved dog in America through a German toy maker.
Why Dachshunds are the Most Popular Dog Breed
If there was a dog that could be the poster child for the term “puppy dog eyes” it would be the Dachshund. These popular pups are lovingly referred to by their human nicknames: weiner dog, sausage dog, and doxie, references to their long bodies and short legs.
Beyond the physical features that make these pups popular, these agreeable canines are equally loved for their personalities. Loyal, lovable, playful, funny, and affectionate are just some of the traits people love about their Dachshunds.
Always ready to roll around or chase after a toy for a game of fetch, these pups will keep you laughing all day long. Attentive to emotions, these pups will also cuddle up to you for a snuggle if they can tell you are sad. This is one of the ways they demonstrate their protective instincts.
While Dachshunds may be small, their bark is mighty! Combine their bark with their protective nature and you have the perfect guard dog. While this is great for alerting owners to someone suspicious at their home, it can catch people off guard when you are out for a walk. Therefore, be mindful of their loud bark when passing strangers on the street.
The Dachshund’s love of barking is also something to consider when thinking about living situations. Due to their affectionate and playful nature, they like having other dogs or people around them. While they do not need quite as much running space as another fellow short-legged canine, the Corgi, Dachshunds do need time to play and explore outside.
As a highly intelligent breed that is historically known as hunters, it is important to provide them with space to run, play, and dig! Yes, dig. There is more information on this later on.
When Dachshunds are bored or lonely the bark that is beloved for keeping its owner safe, can quickly become a bit too much.
While it is important to be mindful of providing enough space, companionship, and exercise to keep these pups entertained, overall they provide a perfect balance in a pet. Their protective and territorial nature, combined with their affectionate personality make them truly great pets for small and large families alike.
Their beloved nature and adorable features are not the only reason this breed has become one of the most popular dogs worldwide. However, before diving into the Dachshund’s unique rise to fame let’s dive a bit deeper into the history of these regal dogs to better understand their story.
The History of Dachshunds
While you may not look at the puppy dog eyes of a Dachshund and think “hunter,” that is what they were originally bred for. This iconic German dog breed is believed to have originated in the 15th century as a hunting dog. However, the first reference of the Dachshund in print is later on in 1723 in a book known as The Complete German Hunter (Der vollkommene teutsche Jäger) by German writer Johann Friedrich von Flemming.
If you’re not convinced that these cute cuddly pups were hunters, take a look at their ears. You will notice their large floppy ears are similar to those of a well-known hunting dog–the Bloodhound.
Dachshunds are believed to be descendants of Bloodhounds. It is thought that the Germans created Dachshunds by breeding dwarf mutations of Bloodhounds. Over time, this process allowed them to create a breed with similar hunting instincts, but shorter legs.
With their short legs, this new breed became the perfect hunter. Not only able to help hunt larger animals but perfect for following small animals into holes. Specifically, badger holes.
The name Dachshund literally means “badger dog” in German. It comes from the words “Dachs” and “hund.” They got their name as a result of becoming the perfect hunting dog to follow badgers where other dogs could not go–underground.
Badgers are a prevalent form of wildlife in Europe, including Germany. These are tunneling animals that use their paws to burrow deep into the earth. Badgers have been hunted for sport in Germany for centuries. It wasn’t until the Dachshund, however, that hunters had a dog able to track a badger beneath the ground.
The shape of the Dachshund’s long bodies is one thing that helps them burrow into badger holes. In addition to helping them fit into small spaces, the length of their body gives them greater lung capacity. This is helpful in hunting small animals like badgers and rabbits because they have more air while they are underground.
Beyond their long bodies, Dachshund paws are also built for burrowing. Next time you see one of these cute pups take a look at their paws. They are wide and flat like paddles. This helps them to dig better.
While Dachshunds were popularized as hunting dogs centuries ago, they have found a new type of popularity in the last century. Their popularity has transpired through art and even their own museum.
The Dachshund Museum in Germany
If you still have your doubts about the popularity and love of these unique dogs, enter Kleine Residenz. Klein Residenz means “Small Residence” in German. This small residence is home to The Dachshund Museum, located in Passau Germany.
Designed by Seppi Küblbeck and Oliver Storz, this collection of over 4,500 exhibits is dedicated to the adorable wiener dog. Exhibits that honor everything from their history as hunters to their appreciation by famed artist Pablo Picasso.
For centuries this cuddly creature has been loved in person and in art. A project that took 25 years to complete, the museum finally opened its doors in 2018, making this one of the newest expressions of love for the sausage dog.
In addition to being one of the only dog breeds to have their own museum, this beloved dog is also one of the only breeds to have a collection of figurines made of them. What type of figurines? Bobbleheads! That’s right, those quirky bouncy-headed figurines you see on car dashboards.
Dachshund bobbleheads are not the only thing to make these funny figurines popular. Bobbleheads have a long history just like the Dachshund. Let’s take a look at where these famed figurines come from. Then we will look at how they used their popularity to bring even more fame to the beloved Doxie.
History of Bobbleheads
If you have ever pulled up behind a car and seen a little figurine bobbing around, you already know what a bobblehead looks like. However, these fun figurines started long before the car was even invented.
While these funny caricatures may seem like an invention of the 20th century, their history is almost as old as the Dachshund dog breed. One of the first nods to the history of these dolls is in a painting of the Queen of England, Queen Charlotte, in the 1760s.
The figurines seen in the painting of the Queen are nodding-head dolls from China. Other royal figures also had an appreciation for these types of dolls in the 18th century, including The Prince of Wales. Known for his love of Chinese art and culture, the Prince imported several different pieces of art. Included were nodding-head dolls.
While many recognize nodding-head dolls as the earliest example of the type of dolls that became bobbleheads, it was actually mentioned in a book that is the first time the term was used. In the 1800s, Russian writer Gogol described a character as a “bobblehead” in his short story “The Overcoat.”
With mentions in Russia and history in China, it was Germany who made the first doll that most resembles the bobbleheads we see today. German bobbleheads were first made in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
A century later, there was a glimpse into the future of the famous dachshund bobbleheads with the first ceramic animal bobbleheads being made in Germany in 1901. However, it would still be almost another hundred years before the sausage dog found fame as a bobblehead.
Bobbleheads and Sports
Before the dachshund became a famous bobblehead, bobbleheads gained popularity because of famous athletes. While sports team mascots created some buzz around bobbleheads, it was when the players got involved that things really took off for these types of figurines.
Bobblehead dolls are closely tied to sports, especially baseball. These dolls are a popular form of sports memorabilia. In the mid-1900s sports teams started to make bobbleheads in the likeness of a team mascot. A huge success, the world of bobbleheads went one step further with bobblehead dolls in sports.
In the 1960s, famous baseball players like Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Willie Mays became the first inspiration for bobble head dolls beyond mascots. This was the beginning of the first bobblehead craze.
Famous People and Bobbleheads
From the 1960s through the 1970s athletes and other famous people were memorialized through bobbleheads. Fans began to collect these figurines of their favorite players and singers.
Singers like Elvis Presley and bands like The Beatles have all been memorialized through these collectibles. However, this early craze for bobbleheads died out in the 1980s when other collectible fads took over.
However, in the late 1990s bobbleheads made their way back into the hearts of fans the same way they had in the 1960s. Baseball once again brought the love for bobbleheads back. The San Francisco Giants to be exact. In 1999, thousands of Giants’ fans received a classic Willie Mays bobblehead when they attended the 40th anniversary of the stadium. Just like that, bobbleheads were a part of pop culture again.
The National Bobblehead Hall
Throughout the early 2000s these dolls continued to make a comeback. Even spurring the creation of The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and an official National Bobblehead Day. In addition to the hall of fame, these toys also made their way into the Guinness Book of World Records. The current record is for the largest collection of bobbleheads.
While it was famous figures who brought these iconic dolls back around, it was man’s best friend that became a favorite among collectors. It is fitting that dog bobbleheads made the biggest comeback since it was originally a dog bobblehead that started the buzz decades before.
Dachshund Bobblehead History
Long recognized as a popular German symbol, the Dachshund was memorialized as an iconic symbol of Germany in the 1970s when the first Dachshund bobblehead was created.
Just as adorable as the real thing, these dachshund bobbleheads became a popular car commodity. These dachshund toys found homes in the rear dash of traditional German notchback cars throughout the 1970s.
Similar to the ups and downs of the bobblehead phenomenon in the United States, the excitement around these dachshund bobbleheads slowly died down. However, just like in the United States they also saw a resurgence in the 1990s.
While baseball brought the bobble back to life in the United States, it was an advertisement that resurrected the Dachshund. A late 90s German advertisement featured the pop culture relic and in less than a year over 500,000 Dachshund bobbleheads had sold.
The Dachshund Bobblehead in the 21st Century
More than a decade after the resurgence of the Dachshund bobblehead, this iconic figure of German culture found fame once again. This time, through technology.
In a very 21st Century way, this iconic German toy that first rose to fame in the 1970s was brought back to life digitally. Artist and engineer David Lu chose to honor the history of the Dachshund and the bobblehead with an animated Google Doodle.
Released centuries after the first mention of the word bobblehead, Lu’s doodle depicts a Dachshund doll wobbling around on the dashboard as it looks out the window at the German countryside.
While many choose to honor this breed simply because of their love for these special pups, Lu had a different reason. He wanted to highlight the word “wackeldackel” which for non-German speakers means, “wobbling Dachshund.” David Lu believed this beloved word needed to be appreciated more.
Dachshunds and Their Famous Owners
Although the artist who brought the wobbling Dachshund back to life with his Google Doodle didn’t own his own Doxie, this famed dog has no trouble attracting owners.
While the adorable breed has no trouble finding people to love it, it doesn’t hurt that many of its admirers are also well known.
The Queen of England has a love for short-legged and small-bodied dogs. While she is best known for her love of Corgis, she has also owned Dachshunds.
While Queen Elizabeth has brought popularity to the Corgi, it is American royalty that has helped to further popularize the Dachshund in the United States. From the White House to Hollywood, Dachshunds have found homes with some of the most well-known names in the United States.
John F. Kennedy, John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, and Marilyn Monroe are just a handful of famous people who have owned Dachshunds.
Dachshunds today have found homes with singers like Adele and comedians like Jack Black. From Buckingham Palace to Hollywood hills, the Dachshund has truly secured its spot as the most popular breed.
Future Fame for the Dachshund
Fame comes from many places. While it always helps to have a famous owner, the beloved Dachshund is bound to find fame regardless of who its owners are.
Their loyalty and protective nature will continue to attract families looking for the perfect guard dog and cuddle buddy. Hunters will continue to seek them out as a companion to burrow into the smallest tunnels of their prey. Fans and artists will make dachshund toys to memorialize them for years to come.
The Dachshunds fame began long before Hollywood, and even before the beloved bobblehead rendering. Most likely, this beloved breed will continue to find fame for decades, even centuries, to come.