Mini Wire Dachshunds feature in January 2020 Kennel Gazette

“Small Dogs, Large Personality” is the main article in the Kennel Gazette:

MW Gazette 2020Miniature Wirehaired Dachshunds are large dogs in small bodies. They are intelligent and mischievous, will walk as far as you want to go, and can make excellent pets in the right household.

In 2018, Dachshunds made up over half the registrations in the Hound Group and Mini Wires were the third most popular of the 6 varieties. The Mini Wires have averaged around 740 registrations per year for the past 20 years, albeit with a slight dip from 2012 to 2016 when there were concerns over Lafora Disease in the breed. We are thankful that they haven’t seen the same exponential growth in popularity as the Mini Smooths. Social media has a lot to answer for and the Breed Council is constantly trying to raise awareness about the breed’s characteristics. Potential buyers need to understand that Dachshunds are working and hunting dogs, not lap-dogs or fur-babies. 

The Mini Wires probably don’t attract as much popularity because many people will think their coats are hard work. Like terriers, they have to be hand-stripped; perhaps 2 or 3 times a year, depending on the quality of the coat. Also, like many terriers, they can be tenacious hunters. They need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to ensure they can live as happy pets and companions.

In the show-ring, entries have been declining for some years and breed success has tended to be dominated by a few kennels who consistently produce and show top-quality dogs. The fact that these top kennels show different “types” inevitably makes the breed more challenging for newer judges, be they specialists or all-rounders.

The breed should be bold and good-tempered. Given that the “function” of the majority of Dachshunds today is to be family pets, temperament has to be one of the most important considerations of any breeder and judges should not be rewarding nervous dogs.

Dachshunds are inherently an exaggerated breed due to their short legs and therefore open to criticism from those campaigning against pedigree dogs. The Breed Standard was modified in 2009 to specify the body length and height proportions. Height at the withers should be half the length of the body, measured from breastbone to the rear of thigh. Mini Wires have benefited from numerous Scandinavian imports and, as a result, tend to be more moderate in their proportions than some of the other Dachshund varieties.

Some judges appear to be confused by the Breed Standard’s description of Dachshunds as being “moderately long and low”. They are also described as “compact” in the General appearance clause so it should be clear that exaggerated length is a fault. Judges often also refer to the breed as “low to ground” where they mean there is very little clearance between the chest and the ground. “Low” means height at the withers, compared with other dogs. The importation of Mini Wires bred to the FCI Standard has certainly helped ensure more of the breed has adequate length of leg and ground clearance to allow free movement. Having said that, the top-winning UK-bred dogs have had the correct proportions and ground clearance for many years.

Wire coats can also be challenging for judges. A Mini Wire should have a rough coat, suited to his working role; he should not be a fluffy, trimmed dog. Coat texture in Wire Dachshunds is a source of mystery and confusion to many people as they can range from “fluffy” (incorrect) through to “Pin Wire” where there are few furnishings on the face. A correct dog should have a double-coat with a longer, harsh top coat and a dense undercoat beneath. A good Mini Wire coat will have face furnishings and the leg hair will be harsh, like coconut matting.

Dachshund breed clubs have always been proactive in providing education and training for judges. Most years, there are 2 or 3 breed seminars (Breed Appreciation Days now) and newcomers have been encouraged to participate in mentoring (which can now be arranged through the Breed Education Coordinator).

Health-wise, Mini Wires are generally a pretty robust and long-lived breed. The average (median) age of death in the 2018 breed survey was 12 years. Back disease (IVDD) is the other well-known concern in the breed but breeders can help reduce the risks by using the X-ray screening programme that was introduced at the end of 2016. Lifestyle factors such as keeping them in good body condition and well-exercised also help mitigate the risks. A peer-reviewed paper published in 2018 also showed an increased risk of IVDD associated with early neutering so the recommendation is not to neuter under 12 months.

Lafora Disease is, perhaps, the most high-profile disease affecting Mini Wires. It is an inherited form of epilepsy for which a DNA test now exists. The Wirehaired Dachshund Club initiated research and a screening programme in 2010, which has been widely adopted by breeders. Thanks to fundraising by the breed clubs, together with support from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, DNA testing has reduced the prevalence of the Lafora mutation significantly. By the end of 2018, 95% of Mini Wire litters were safe, with no affected puppies being born.

In conclusion, for anyone who wants a small active dog with a big personality, then the Mini Wire Dachshund is definitely a dog for all seasons.