Tuesday, September 21, 2010


'Whiskey' is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed.  What's a turnspit dog?  Find out at Gathering the Jewels, the website for Welsh heritage and culture.

We found the below article while conducting Dachshund research at a local University.  It was originally published in the New York Times, November 25, 1923, nearly 90 years ago, and discusses the origin of our beloved Dachshund.  And boy are our paws tired from typing this out from an image:


What has become of the roly-poly Dachshunds that used to go waddling through our streets looking like some animated form of German sausage? Since the war they have decreased so rapidly that we are in danger of losing one of our most distinct Germanic adornments. That is only a part of the bad news. In London it has been said that the Dachshund is not really German at all, but Egyptian instead.
This is an age of iconoclasts. We have left ourselves few images, and those are going fast. It takes a moment for the mind to accustom itself to the idea that the Dachshund may not be German. Here we have gone along for years calling him Fritz or Heinie when we should have said Amenhotep or Akh-n-aten, if the news from London be true.
It must have been an envious mind that originated the idea. Perhaps it was an Englishman's way of revenging himself for the war. But surely it was too great a revenge. Here, at one gesture, we destroy the illusion of the world and break down the pride of a great people. Even the lineage of the Hohenzollerns is not longer nor more august than that of the German Dachshunds.
German dog fanciers deny vehemently that the Dachshund is anything but the most Germanic of dogs. They point to his descent from ages past. But the seed of doubt has been planted and the evil blossom has caused investigation. In dusty books it is found that dogs suspiciously like the Dachshund were common in England in the Middle Ages. These were called spithounds or turnspits, and it was their lot in life to go walking around a circle in countless taverns that the spits might be turning just so fast. The poor chaps were trained to the task from their puppyhood.

Little to Justify German Claim.
With the progress of science and the introduction of new methods, accompanied by the decadence of cooking and the passing of the old-fashioned open fire for the roasting of meat, the spithound sank into obscurity. Whether he was transplanted to Germany somewhere between the old days and the new is something that even the breeders cannot answer. On the other side of the story there is nothing much to justify the claim of a long German lineage for the Dachshund. Men who make it a business to poke about in old books say the German authors of two centuries ago offer no reference to Dachshunds. There the matter stands, with the weight of evidence slightly on the English side.
While London and Berlin recently were bringing forth claims and counterclaims as to the origin and rearing of the Dachshund, some of the scholars were hard at work. One of them, an Egyptologist, upset the whole controversy by asserting that the Dachshund had been depicted in the Egyptian tombs thousands of years before the Christian era. Both sides paused for a moment to draw breath and turned upon the Egyptologist, demanding his proof. He is now looking for a tomb with a wall inscription carefully marked, "This is a Dachshund."
A little inquiry by a layman reveals that a dog much like the Dachshund flourished in Egypt. He had the same long body and short legs. Judging from the only reproduction that can be found in New York, these legs were not so bowed as those of the modern Dachshund.
The Egyptians had at least a half-dozen breeds of dogs. One resembled a fox, and another plainly was a hound. The Dachshund type was not uncommon. It has been found in a number of tombs, particularly in the period of Tehuti-mes, III, who is said to have lent a kindly eye to that ancient Dachshund.
The first of the race in this country are said to have come over as long ago as the 60's. They have never been numerous. But up to the war period they were a reasonably familiar sight in the New York streets. Breeders say that apartment life does not suit them. In Germany they are essentially house dogs, but that does not mean being confined all day in a three-and-bath, with only a half hour's walk in the morning and at night, held on a leash, with a wire trap over the nose.


Ancient Egyptian mural of the XIIth Dynasty, app. 2000 B.C.

Keep up with the history of the Dachshund at the ever-changing Dachshund wikipedia.


Debi said...

Interesting article! I see the dog they are talking about, it's body is similarly shaped. But it's ears are all wrong. Maybe an ancestor of the dachshund? Or maybe a completely different breed. Hard to say. But I've seen articles tracing so many dog breeds back to ancient Egypt, I really wouldn't put much stock in any of them :P Still fun to read, though ^-^

~Debi & Ringo

Finchie said...

Haha no it's a completely different breed. This is mentioned in All the dachshund books and they all discredit it - 'Teckle' had a different meaning in Egyptian, and like Debi said - aside from being long and short, there are little other similarities. The oldest referance to a dachshund is a german woodcut from 1560 of hunting dachshunds =]

Anonymous said...

You have to consider the source and the time of this material. There was a very anti-German sentiment in this country from WWI-era to well past WII. Any "claim to fame" the Germans may have espoused was disavowed by many American media outlets.

Bogie and Monty, proud dogs of German descent

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