The Dachshund in the 19th Century
Unlike breeds that have been altered over the passage of time, in some cases virtually beyond all recognition of what they were originally, the Dachshund is instantly recognizable as the breed it was 200 years ago and more. The modern dogs are longer in back, more level in topline and closer in front with straighter legs, characteristics more appealing to today’s vision of the breed as a show dog — nevertheless, characteristics that would impinge on their ability to make good earth dogs.
Long, low dogs have been around for centuries. Woodcuts and engravings from both 16th-Century France and Germany show scenes of huntsmen going badger hunting and of badger dogs going to earth, but enthusiasts of both Dachshunds and Basset Hounds could both claim the type of dogs shown as theirs.
With one exception, all the images featured here are from the 19th Century and show all three coat varieties.
The one earlier picture was painted by the French artist Jean-Baptiste Oudry in 1740 and is in the National Museum in Stockholm. Oudry was originally a painter of still life and portraits, but became one of the great dog painters of the 18th Century. The dog is “Pehr,” one of many pets owned by the Swedish politician and diplomat Count Carl Gustaf Tessin and his courtier wife Ulla and was a gift from the royal family. The dog is shown with a brace of dead game hanging from a wall, up against which rests the sportsman’s gun. Sporting Dachshunds can be very versatile, and my late brother had one that used to go out shooting with him.
“Pehr” accompanied the Tessins on several trips abroad, including to Paris, where the dog’s portrait could possibly have been painted. The painting was a gift from the artist, who in return received a gold box from the Tessins.
Queen Victoria’s marriage to her first cousin, the German Prince Albert, was largely responsible for introducing the Dachshund to England, and there were two imported from Germany in the kennels at Windsor as early as 1840. The first to enter the show ring were two bred in Germany by Count Knyphauser and owned by H. Corbet of Newport in Shropshire. The two won a second prize at the Birmingham show in 1866.
The breed became popular in Britain and remained so right up until the beginning of World War I, when it fell out of favor. Dogs were stoned in the streets because of their German ancestry. Fortunately, common sense prevailed: That never happened again, and the breed in all sizes, coats and colors is now popular in many countries of the world.
The engraving of John Fisher’s “Feldmann” shows a typical Dachshund front in the middle years of the 19th Century. He was bred in Germany in the kennels of Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar and was possibly the fourth Dachshund to be shown in England, being exhibited at Birmingham in 1870 as a German Badger Hound.
Major Harry Jones was a founder member in 1881 of the Dachshund Club, the oldest Dachshund breed club in the world and one of the first clubs for any breed. He owned many dogs, of whom “Ch. Jackdaw” was considered the best. He became the most famous of all Dachshunds of the 19th Century, and in his book “The Dachshund Handbook” (1950), author Clifford L.B. Hubbard added “and possibly all time, of the many dogs bred in Britain.” The Dachshund Club’s famous trophy is named after “Jackdaw.”
The engraving of “Jackdaw” is by Richard Hewitt Moore, the most prolific dog artist and illustrator of the 19th and early 20th centuries whose list of engravings of show dogs numbers in the hundreds in a career that spanned more than 40 years.
While Moore was recording all the countless show dogs in Britain, French artist Paul Mahler was doing likewise on the Continent. He was commissioned by the “Journal L’ Acclimatation” to record every breed of dog, and at least 90 of these illustrations were reproduced in postcard form. A good reference to his work is Comte Henry de Byland’s “Dogs of all Nations” (1904).
The two Longhaired Dachshunds that appeared in “Les Chiens de Chasse” are a rarer example of his color work.
Dapple Dachshunds, which at one time were rarely seen, are now back in fashion. Emil Ilgner, author of “Der Dachshund,” published in 1896, and one of the founding fathers of the German Dachshund Club in 1888, championed the color. The silver dapple here from a painting of 1894 shows one of Ilgner’s dogs, Hannemann-Erdmannstein.
As with many breeds, a number of theories have been suggested as to the age and origin of the Wirehaired Dachshund. In his amazingly well-researched tome, “Dogs: The Ultimate Dictionary of Over 1,000 Dog Breeds” (2001), Desmond Morris writes: “German records seem to suggest that … this breed … is over two centuries old.”
Although the breed was known outside its native Germany from the 1880s, it was not until the 1920s that the modern history of the breed begins. The first wirehaired champion in England was the imported Brita of Tavistone, getting her title in 1929. The engraving here is of a typical wirehair in Germany at the end of the 19th Century and is from the “Teckelklub Stud Book 1905.”
Austrian Artist Carl Reichart was one of the most popular and prolific of all Continental dog artists working in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Dachshund was one of his most popular breeds, many of his paintings being reproduced in postcard form to the extent that it is possible for collectors to build up sizeable collections. His painting from the end of the 19th Century of a bitch lying in her kennel watching over her mischievous puppies is typical of his output.
Another Continental artist working in a similar vein at the same time as Reichart was the little-known Swiss artist Augustin Müller-Warth. In his painting, also from the end of the 19th Century, he hints at the hunting heritage of the breed as two dogs attack a fox-skin rug.