Are Dachshunds aggressive
It is unfair and inaccurate to say that the Dachshund is an aggressive breed of dog. The breed is supposed to be suspicious towards strangers, but they should not be aggressive towards them. What is often perceived as aggression is their natural protective and controlling instinct. This can still be a behavior issue but should be dealt with differently.
Every dog is an individual and some Dachshunds are aggressive which is true of any breed of dog. The reason for the aggressive behavior of an individual Dachshund is not so much a trait of the breed but likely the result of their past or poor training. In some cases, it may be the result of bad breeding. It is the old nature vs nurture debate.
A 2008 study by animal behavioral scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, published in the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science, paints the Dachshund as an aggressive breed. It listed the Dachshund as the most aggressive breed towards stranglers and other dogs. It ranked them second at being aggressive towards towards their owners.
What is aggression in dogs
It is also important to distinguish between aggressive behavior and behavior related to their instinctive drive. Dachshunds can have a reputation for biting when in reality they are warning. This is still not acceptable behavior but it is not aggression. It is more a dominant and controlling behavior.
The Dachshund is also very loyal and become attached to members of their family and can be extremely protective of them. As a result, they can be overprotective of you when people the dog doesn’t know do anything they see as threatening.
So it is important when dealing with what is perceived to be an aggression issue with a Dachshund that you determine if it is actual aggression or their instinctive protective nature. Both behaviors can be an issue, but the approach to solving them is different.
Types of Aggression in dogs
Aggression towards people is quite unconnected with aggression towards other dogs. Dogs that are dog aggressive are often very amiable with children, adults and quite often puppies.
The category of aggression will depend on the dogs’ motivation for the aggression, the situation the aggression occurs, and the intended target of the aggression. Categories of aggression can include;
Possessive Aggression often referred to as resource guarding, is dog feels threatened that the person or animal will take away valued resources, which are usually food or toys.
Pain-Related or Irritable Aggression occurs when a dog is in pain or discomfort. and they react to be touched or the fear of being hurt.
Territorial Aggression is aggression towards a person or animal that enters or approaches the dog’s territory.
Maternal Aggression is when a dog, usually a mother dog, protecting her puppies.
Predatory Aggression is when a dog is hunting prey with the intention of killing them. This may be to capture food or for just the thrill of the hunt.
Frustration or Redirected Aggression occurs when a dog cannot reach the target of its aggression or arousal. Out of frustration, they change their focus to another person or animal.
Social Conflict Aggression is when a dog is aggressive towards a person or animal they know sparks by an internal conflict that occurs during social interactions.
Sexual Aggression is when aimed at male or female dogs associated with mating behavior such as competing for a female. Alternatively, it can be female dogs fighting for access to a male.
Fear Aggression is motivated to a dog feeling fear, threatened, or trapped. Fear aggression is the most common type of aggression. There is often an element of this even in the other categories of aggression.
Warning signs of aggression in dogs
In most situations, a dog will give many warning signs of impending aggression by way of body language and actions. These warning signs may include but are not limited to;
- ridged body posture
- ears pinned back
- threatening growl (different from a play growl)
- air snapping – snapping close to the target without the intent of actually biting.
- light bite – as a warning rather than an intent to do real harm.
- baring teeth
- raised hackles
- tail either raised over the back (dominant) or between the legs (fear)
- rapid stiff tail wagging (unlike a happy tail wag)
Are Dachshunds good with other dogs
A well trained and socialized Dachshund will usually get along well with other dogs. A Dachshund that has not been socialized well is more likely to be timid or even aggressive towards other dogs and pets.
Dachshunds generally get along best with other small dogs or other Dachshunds. This is not to say a Dachshund will not be fine with a large breed dog. Dachshunds often get along fine with breeds like Dobermans and Boxers.
Dachshunds are a dominant breed by nature and can become a little over powering for some other dogs. You should introduce your Dachshund to other dogs slowly and intervene if they are becoming too much.
How to socialize a Dachshund puppy
The easiest age for the socialization of a puppy is before 12 weeks of age. After 18 weeks of age, it becomes more difficult but by no means impossible.
It is possible to over socialize a puppy so it is important to introduce them to new experiences, people, and animals slowly. Socialization starts when they are still with their mother and siblings. This is the time when they learn they learn the social skills and rules of being a dog. The best puppy trainer in the world is the mother dog.
Tips to socializing a Dachshund puppy
Introduce your puppy to new experiences, sights, sounds, and smells. This is known as habituation. Examples of the type of thing to introduce your puppy to can include;
- New objects such as balloons, moving objects, the vacuum cleaner, etc
- Different surfaces such as grass, carpet, tiles, etc
- Different places such as the beach, park, markets, etc
- Traveling like going in the car.
- Different types of people of different genders, personalities, and ages.
- Introduce them to other animals including other dogs and cats. This can include friendly adult dogs and other puppies. Other options can be puppy training classes and doggie daycare. For more on doggie daycare pros and cons see here.
It is important to allow your puppy to make positive associations with these new experiences. This can be achieved by;
- Rewarding your puppy for engaging with the new experience, person, or animal by giving small treats, verbal praise, and pats.
- Be calm and confident yourself. If you are anxious, your puppy will pick up on this and think it is something to be wary of.
- Don’t force them to do anything they are not ready for. Allow them their space.
Baby steps are the best approach. Don’t introduce them to too much too quickly. This may make them feel overwhelmed. If they are unsure of something, allow them their space and time to adjust.
How to socialize an adult Dachshund
It is never too late to socialize a dog. It just may require a little more time and patience.
Slowly introduce your older Dachshund to new sights, smells, and sounds, with careful supervision and an emphasis on a positive association. The process for socializing an adult Dachshund is similar to that of a puppy.
It is all about building their confidence, not overwhelming them, and making it a positive experience.
Dachshunds as part of a multi-dog household
Dogs are social animals. Dachshunds, in particular, crave the company and companionship of people and other animals.
Every dog is an individual and some Dachshunds may prefer to be the only dog in the home. Dachshunds do like attention and some may get jealous if they have competition for affection and attention.
Dachshunds generally get along best with other small dogs or other Dachshunds. That is not to say that they won’t get along with a large dog. For more on Dachshund compatible breeds see here.
If you are considering having another dog and a Dachshund in the same household, there are a couple of things to consider.
Get dogs of the opposite sex
Male dogs tend to be better with other dogs of the opposite sex. Therefore, if you have a male dog it is best to have a female as the other dog.
With a Dachshund, two males are generally better than two females. Raising two females together can lead to fighting once they become mature. This is less likely with two males.
This is only a general guideline and it does not mean that female dachshund can’t live together. It is just important to ensure the rules and boundaries are set and you provide good leadership.
Get dogs of different ages
Dogs in the same household that vary in age tend to get along much better. There is a clear hierarchy that becomes established. With dogs of the same or similar age, there can be some jostling for position in the pack.
I had three dogs at one time. They all varied in age and there were no issues at all. The social hierarchy sorted itself out with no interference from me. This is despite them all being males.
Generally, an age gap of two years or more is considered best.
Desex the males
Neutering a male dog stops any sexually motivated behavior. By neutering a male dog, it stops the production of testosterone preventing the desire to assert dominance over the other dogs.
Desexing obviously also prevents the male dog mating with the female resulting in unwanted puppies. It is also a good idea to spay the female also.
I don’t recommend desexing a dog until around 6 months old when they reach sexual maturity. Desexing stops the production of hormones. Studies have shown that these hormones are crucial in the development and growth of the dog. Dogs that are desexed too young are more prone to tendon and joint injuries later in life.
Be aware of food aggression
The most likely time for there to be an issue with two or more dogs is around food and mealtimes. There are two approaches you can take at mealtimes.
Either feed them separately in different areas or train both dogs to only eat from their own bowls. If you give your dogs a bone to chew it is probably best to separate the dogs.
Other tips for having a Dachshund in a multi-dog household are
- Ensure all your dogs receive the right amount of exercise and mental enrichment they require. Unreleased pent up energy can lead to fight or behavior issues. For a guide to Dachshund exercise see here. If the other dogs in the household are of a different breed see here for a guide to their exercise needs.
- Supervise feeding time. Each dog should have their own bowl and not share. The dogs will quickly learn which is their bowl and understand the rules to mealtime.
- Ensure all the dogs receive equal attention and don’t have favorites. This will help to prevent any jealousy developing.
Dog body language when greeting
It is important to be aware of your Dachshund and the other dog’s body language when meeting.
When two dogs are greeting in a courteous manner they will meet head to tail. That is they will stand side by side with their heads at opposite ends so they can sniff the other dogs rear.
If two dogs meet head to head, it is a sign of dominance and aggression and they should be separated or corrected. If one dog tries to make their body position higher and place their head above the other, it is also a sign of dominance.
It is usually a good idea to introduce dogs to each on a leash if you are unsure. That way, if there is any issue you can jerk the leash if needed. It is best not to separate them completely unless there are signs of aggression. By removing a dog at the first sign of dominance they will never learn proper communication.
Signs of dog aggression
We have looked at what a good greeting looks like above. It is also important to be aware of signs of tension, dominance, and aggression in dog body language. This is not a full list of aggression dog body language but it can include:-
Hackles are up – Hackles are patches of hair between the shoulder blades or near the rear end of the dog. if they are standing up it is a sign of aggression.
Ears and tail are erect – if the ears or tail are standing straight up it is a sign of aggression. It is also thought that if the tail is wagging the dog is happy. This is not always true. If the tail is wagging in a stiff motion while be held high it is a sign of aggression.
Bearing teeth – Showing teeth by raising their lips is a warning sign. It is often followed by a snap or bite. Most dogs will do an air snap rather than a full-on bite. This is a further warning to let the other dog know the next one is for real.
Growling – a deep growl or snarl usually with eye conduct focused on the other dog. All growling is not necessarily aggressive and many dogs use a play growl when playing. This has a completely different tone. Continuous barking without gaps is a similar sign of aggression.
Stiff body posture – A dog will become noticeably rigid and stiff in their body when they’re becoming agitated. They may stand in a wider stance than normal or try to raise the height of their head and body. They will have their eyes focused on their target.
Summary – Are Dachshunds aggressive
Dachshunds can have a reputation for being an aggressive dog towards people and other dogs. It is unfair and inaccurate to say that the Dachshund is an aggressive breed of dog.
Dachshunds are generally very loving dogs that desire the companionship of people and other dogs. They can be suspicious of stranglers and they do have a dominant personality. This does not necessarily mean they are aggressive.
Every dog is an individual and some Dachshunds are aggressive which is true of any breed of dog. The reason for the aggressive behavior of an individual Dachshund is not so much a trait of the breed but likely the result of their past or poor training. In some cases, it may be the result of bad breeding
More Dachshunds articles that may interest you