What age were you and how did you become involved in the world of Dogs?:
8 years old – my Mum started to show labradors. I joined in and enjoyed the mega trips in those days to far flung places like Cork and Limerick, and started to show the dogs in junior handling classes. I did however prefer golden retrievers to Labradors and saved sixpence in a bottle for years towards my first golden. I still have Joan Gill’s book on the breed, signed by both Joan Gill and Joan Tudor, the latter very understanding as I could not afford her book as it was more expensive!
I then lost interest in dog shows for a while and concentrated on ponies. Mum got interested in miniature wire haired dachshunds but I still hunkered after a golden. Then, eureka! Mum “swapped” two miniature puppies for a beautiful standard wire haired bitch called Birdie. She was terrific. Same colour as a golden, could walk for miles and keep up with my pony on the beach – I was hooked. I left home for University and really missed living with a dog, so begged for a dog puppy from Birdie. She only had one dog puppy in her first litter and I was only allowed to have him if I would show him. I thought I would get away with a few shows but here I am, still going, more than 40 years later!
What Breeds of Dogs have you had over the years?
I have only ever owned wire haired dachshunds myself, but I did have miniatures in partnership with Mum and currently have one in partnership with Margaret Williamson.
What would you consider to be your main breed and the one people associate you with?
Nobody would associate me with anything other than wire haired dachshunds.
What attracted you to this breed?
I love their character and their do anything attitude. They love long energetic walks as much as they love snuggling on the sofa watching long films – preferably not on commercial TV as they do not approve of me getting up during the advertisements. I used to work as a veterinary sales rep and at that time I had 2 wires who accompanied me everywhere.
What advice would you offer to anybody that is interested in becoming an owner of the breed?
Don’t be house proud as they are dogs who want to be with you everywhere, even if they have just come in from a muddy garden. And don’t be a keen gardener as you won’t believe their ability to dig craters in the middle of the lawn! Be prepared to laugh a lot as they are absolute clowns, and beware, as they are exceptionally clever and will always find a way to get what they want – even going so far to move chairs across the kitchen to get something off a kitchen worktop.
Does the Breed have any specific requirements by way of exercise & grooming?
Once they are mature they relish as much exercise as you can give them and free running is very important for puppies. Their coats need stripped once or twice a year – by hand. This seems daunting at first but is easy to do, the dogs enjoy it and it is very relaxing and a great bonding session.
Does the breed have any specific health tests that should be done before a Dog or Bitch is used at stud or bred from?
All dachshunds should be screened for intra vertebral disc degeneration before being bred from and those with higher scores should not be bred from.They should also be DNA tested for PRA CORD1 and Day Blindness and have regular physical eye examinations. In general they are a very healthy breed regularly living into their mid teens. Miniature wires should be DNA tested for Lafora, a type of epilepsy, and affected dogs should not be bred from.
How would you sum up the characteristics of this breed and what type of household would they best be suited to?
Wire haired dachshunds are the ideal go anywhere do anything dogs. They will adapt to any sort of living conditions but I would not like to have one without a securely fenced garden. They love children but do tend to adopt one member of a family as “theirs” and if you are not careful to establish boundaries when they are young they can be rather dominant. I can’t imagine life without at least one – and you may well find one is not enough!