Correct Dachshund Conformation
Here at Merrywind Teckels, we strongly believe that form follows function and striving to breed correct conformation in our dogs, whether they are destined to be show dogs or family pets, is very important. It is part of our goal to breed dachshunds that are true to the breed standard and would be able to perform the job that the breed was originally developed for. This page is provided to help make the written standard(s) easier to understand and to give the novice a general overview of just a small little part of everything that we have to consider here before planning a mating between two dachshunds.
“Conformation” is a breeder’s term used to talk about the skeletal structure, proportions, and general appearance of a dog. A “standard” is a written description of the ideal conformation of a specific breed, in this case, the dachshund. This description will cover everything from the color of the hair coat, footpads, nose and nails to the correct angles for the bones in the shoulders, legs and other parts. The idea is for a person to be able to read this written “standard” and create a mental picture of the ideal dog.
The “ideal dog” is one that will not exist in real life, but as breeders we try to come as close as possible to achieving that ideal….along with the other factors we consider including health, temperament, and personality.
There are several different standards written to govern the correct conformation of the dachshund breed. The Dachshund Club of America (DCA) is the parent club recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and they have written the most commonly accepted standard for dachshunds in the United States.
The National Miniature Dachshund Club (NMDC) also maintains a separate standard for miniature dachshunds only (as opposed to both miniature and standard size dachshunds together as is the case in the DCA/AKC standards).
Other widely accepted standards from around the world include those written by: the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) ; the Kennel Club in the UK ; the FCI (an international kennel club); the Australian National Kennel Council ; the South African Dachshund Club ; and the United Kennel Club (UKC) .
It is interesting to note that of all the major kennel clubs worldwide, the US (AKC/DCA) is the only country that still considers the miniature size dachshund and the standard size dachshund the same breed. The Kennel Club in the UK, you will notice, actually calls the two sizes and three hair coats 6 completely separate breeds!
Also described in many of the standards is the correct movement of the dachshund!
The following pictures provide an illustrated look to help you learn to interpret the AKC/DCA dachshund standard…
Figure 1: the ideal head and skull. Eyes should be dark (except in chocolates) and oval. Round eyes are a fault.
Figure 2: excessively pronounced stop, low set and folded ears.
Figure 3: short, snipy jaw, with high-set ears.
… Figure 4: ideal head, seen from above, with the jaw tapering uniformly to the nose.
Figure 5: faulty jaw, pinched in between the eyes and nose.
Figure 6: shows dewlap (baggy skin under the neck). The skin should fit closely all over the body.
Figure 7: correct “Scissor” bite, with closely fitting top and bottom canine teeth. Any deviation from this is a fault.
Figure 8: incorrect “overshot” jaw which is more common than…
Figure 9: incorrect “undershot” jaw
… Figure 10: shows a “pincer” bite where both upper and lower teeth meet exactly edge to edge. This too is incorrect
There should be 22 lower teeth and 20 upper teeth. Number and alignment should both be examined by judges
There should be 6 incisors in each jaw (Faults: missing incisors – typically one missing, but occasionally two missing. Judges should check these.)
Figure 11: shows the ideal profile view of the forequarters; the dotted line indicates the extent of the breastbone. The point of the breastbone should be prominent and high up.
Figure 12: shows the correct shape and length of the breastbone. It should form a graceful curve down through the forelegs and well back towards the abdomen. There are 9 full ribs and 4 floating ribs on each side.
Figure …13: shows the ideal front view of the forequarters. The chest should be very oval and comparatively broad. The legs are close fitting to the ribcage down to the wrists. Below the wrists, the legs are straight and well apart. The feet may be turned slightly outwards or quite straight.
Figure 14: shows a chest that is too narrow (“chicken-breast”). The forelegs are too close together at the wrists and the feet are splayed out (“10 to 2”).
Figure 15: shows a breastbone that starts too low and is not prominent. It is short and comes down to a point behind the legs
Figure 16: is an even more exaggerated example of a faulty breastbone and forechest.
Note that a very deep chest is a fault as insufficient ground clearance will restrict the dog’s movement and ability to do a day’s work. At its lowest point (between the forelegs) it should be no lower than the wrist (knee). Low to ground means lowness from the withers, not lack of ground clearance.
Figure 17: shows the correct angulation of the shoulders and upper arm (set at 90 degrees). The correct form can be gauged by the width between the point of the breastbone and the back of the shoulder (as shown by the dotted lines).
Figure 18: shows the shoulder blade too steep and the upper arm joined at an angle greater than 90 degrees. Note also the less prominent forechest (“flat front”) which… often accompanies upright shoulders; and the forelegs that are placed too far forward. The dotted lines also highlight the lack of width between the point of the breastbone and the top of the shoulder.
Figure 19: shows further exaggeration, leading to knuckling over of the forelegs.
Figure 20: seen from the front, upright shoulders may, in bad cases, also cause the elbows to stand out from the ribs. The body should not hang loosely between the legs.
Figures 21, 21a and 21b: show the correct form of the feet. Forefeet should be large, round and close-knit, with firm pads and a distinct arch to each toe. There are 5 toes, but only four in use. The skin on the forelegs should not be wrinkled. The feet may be turned slightly outwards or quite straight.
Figures 22 and 22a: show an incorrect, long, narrow foot (“hare foot”). A small, round “terrier foot” is also incorrect.
Figure 23: shows the ideal outline. The line of the back from withers to rump should be level. The body should be long and muscular. Too short a body gives a “cloddy” appearance. The underline should not be “tucked up” to the abdomen (like a Greyhound). One head length equals neck length; tail length, and body depth. And, three head lengths equal length of the body from breastbone to hock.
Figure 24: shows a hollow back (sometimes known as “soft in back”).
Figure 25: shows hindquarters higher than the shoulders.
Figure 26: shows a roach back, where the back is arched between the withers and the rump.
Figure 27: shows the long pelvis, with the upper thigh set on at a right angle to it. The lower thigh (shinbone) is of such length that the hock joint stands just clear of the back of the thigh. The foot bones stand vertically, up to the hock joint. The correct angulation can be gauged by the width shown by the dotted lines.
Figure 28: shows the correct hindquarters from behind, with good width. T…he hind legs are lighter in bone and the feet are smaller than the front ones.
Figure 29: shows a short pelvis and upper thigh set at an angle greater than 90 degrees. The lower thighbone is also too short. The back of the thigh overhangs the hock in this case. The dotted lines show the narrowness of this construction. This will result in cramped movement.
Figure 30: shows the same angulation, but with a more normal length of lower thigh, resulting in the hocks projecting too far behind the thigh.
Figure 31: shows narrow hindquarters, with the legs too close together and the feet turned outwards.
Figure 32: shows the pelvis bone set too sloping and with a long lower thigh and long foot bones, resulting in a “sickle-hock”. Note also, the low-set tail.
Figure 33: shows “cow hocks”, with the hock joints close together.
Figure 34: shows “bandy hocks”, with the feet turned inwards.
The Logic of Dachshund Structure
by Laurence Alden Horswell
as printed in The Pet Dachshund, 1958 edition
Functional design –
Badger earths were not air conditioned. As oxygen was reduced by repeated breathing, it became necessary to breathe a larger volume of the depleted air to support maximum exertion. Lungs extend back as far as the soft ribs, which help the diaphragm act as a bellows: the oval cross-section of the chest provide liberal room for the lungs and heart without extending the shoulder structure to excessive width. The longer the rib-cage, the more air could be processed; and a long rib-cage also helps support the long back, resembling in design, box girders under the southern approach to the N.Y., N.H. & H.R.R. Hell Gate bridge.
To move this long body freely through badger setts, it was necessary for the legs to fold to a minimum length. Anyone experimenting with a carpenter’s rule can convince himself that three sections of equal length can fold shorter, and extend longer than any comparable sections of unequal lengths. In the forequarters, the shoulder blade, upper arm, and forearm (elbow to wrist) do this folding. In the hindquarters, the thigh and shin bones and the ‘bone’ from hock joint to foot, are so folded in crawling through a burrow or under a bureau. Fully extended at a gallop, these same short Dachshund legs can cover an unexpected amount of ground.
Horswell’s sketch of the Dachshund running full out and in a burrow
When wild animals digging their tunnels encountered a rock or a large root, they dug around or over it, leaving a constriction. If an eager dachshund forced its chest past such an obstruction and had to back up to get clear, it becomes important that the breastbone of the after chest have the same gradual sled-runner up-curve as the forechest; like a shoehorn to ease the chest over the obstruction in either direction. A cut-up (chicken-breasted) afterchest could be ‘hung’ over such an obstacle as though by an anchor fluke. A properly constructed dachshund, with forelegs at the deepest point of the hammock-shaped keel can crawl through a tunnel which just clears its depth from keel to withers, equally able to move its legs ahead or back. Turned-out ‘digging’ front feet (once said to ‘throw dirt to the sides’ where there is no room for it in a tunnel) have been replaced by snug arched feet with forward alignment. Too heavy a chest, or too coarse bone are as much of a handicap as underdevelopment. A properly proportioned dachshund suggests the symmetrical build and lithe agility of the middle-weight boxing champion.
A long head provides suitable accommodation for the organs for keen scenting ability; and for strong jaws and teeth of maximum effectiveness, with scissor fit of incisors, interlocking fangs, and shearing capacity of molars. Eyes are protected by a deep setting, and well-developed surrounding bone structure. Ears set on high and well back can be drawn up over the neck out of harm’s way, like small braided pigtails. A neck of good length serves the thrusting and parrying purposes of a fencer’s nimble wrist. Even a tail of good size and length, in continuation of the spine, has been used by a hunter’s long arm forcibly to rescue many a dachshund from places of great tightness.
Further to adapt it to work in constricted space, a dachshund whose skin was elastic enough to stretch and slip like a loose glove, had an advantage. But as soon as released the skin should snap back to a slick fit, like the modern two-way stretch foundation garment; for a wrinkle of loose skin, by folding over, could (like a clutch) grip a dog in tight quarters. Loose skin around head and throat could be grasped or torn by an adversary with dangerous loss of blood; skin hanging around the ankles, like wrinkled socks, is also undesirable.
To avoid fatigue, straight legs, viewed from front or rear with gait parallel like locomotive side-rods make efficient use of muscular energy. Viewed from the side, front- and hind-leg action suggesting a broad capital ‘A’, expends this energy on desirable reach and thrust walking or trotting with surprising, apparently effortless speed, and split-second rocket-like ‘low gear’ getaway. The ninety-degree upper-arm to shoulder-blade angulation (each forty-five degrees from the vertical) provides ‘shock-absorber’ action, running or jumping. A fair clearance under the breastbone is needed, as under an automobile crankcase, to clear rough ground, or the treads of a staircase. Pawing the air, like the goose-step, under chin or belly, or throwing feet in or out waste energy and are undesirable. So are ‘dancing’ or ‘weaving’ gaits, or short stilted steps, or too many other variations from the correct gait above to be pictured. The back should stay level in motion, neither roach, sag or bounce.