The dachshund in Germany was also seen as an above ground dog that handled well and could be used to flush game, especially the small European roe deer, out of heavy cover of young growth forest. As a jump dog the dachshund was expected to give tongue on a fresh scent line and warn the hunters posted around the gridiron pattern of forest roads that game was on the way.
It was also discovered that the dachshund, bred to be the biddable hound and attuned to the needs of his handler, was very useful for finding wounded big game which left little or no blood trail. The good ones could learn to work the right deer even if it meant picking out the body and foot print scent of the individual deer. The dachshund was bred to be versatile dog, although individuals tended to excel in one or two categories, and less often in all three.
None of this dachshund work in Germany has much to do with the tasks that a beagle is asked to do in the United States and Canada. When dachshunds were brought to America most of them became show dogs or family pets. Even for those who wanted to keep the dachshund as a hunting dog, their underground purposes were soon forgotten. Teddy Moritz, who writes the first part of this column, is the person who had the most to do with reinventing the dachshund for underground work in America.
Taking a dachshund to an AKC field trial really designed for beagles is a little like taking a springer spaniel to a retriever trial. The spaniel, bred as a flushing dog, can retrieve, but not as well as a Lab. In a brace trial on rabbits the better dachshunds can do it, but not on the same level as the real rabbit specialists. The dachshund is a versatile hound, but rabbit work under brace trial rules is not the best act in his repertoire. When we get calls from beaglers asking about dachshund puppies, we ask a lot of questions about what they are looking for. A good many callers are really looking for a beagle that will please them more than what they have at the moment. If the man doesn’t realize that he would be getting into a completely different kind of dog, he is going to be disappointed. There are things that a good working dachshund can do as well or better than a field bred beagle; he had better be interested in one of these or there is no real point in getting a dachshund.
Over the years I have taken foxes with small standard dachshunds. I had a small standard dachshund bitch which bayed two foxes from a den and found a wounded deer, all in four hours. But this is the exception that proves the rule. Don’t count on it happening for you. Gerte, the 18 pound German bitch shown in the picture was lucky. She was really too big to get up to most foxes in Northeastern dens.
If you are a falconer, or if you want to get rabbits out of their dens in order to give your bigger hounds a run, then you should consider the really small miniature dachshunds which the Germans call Kaninchenteckels. These run from eight pounds down to six and a half. They would not be your first choice for heavy-duty blood tracking, but they can certainly do it in a pinch.
I hope that nothing I have said here will be taken as anti-beagle. I own a good gun dog beagle and I have been active in beagle clubs for many years. Beagles are great hound breed; and there is certainly some overlap in dachshund and beagle work. For example I know of several beagles with established reputations for tracking wounded deer. The individual characteristics of the dog are usually more important than its breed. This is certainly the case when it comes to dachshunds and beagles. Select the breed and the individual most likely to fit your personal needs.