Dachshunds as Political Animals: Doted on By Queen Victoria, President Cleveland, and James Carville
Although not seen with modern high-profile celebrities as much as breeds like Yorkies and Chihuahuas, dachshunds still manage to keep good company thanks to their varying sizes, coats, good demeanor, and a confident streak of independence that tends to delight those with powerful, high-stress positions.
Origins of the Dachshund
Originally bred to hunt small animals such as badgers, the breed maintains its sense of smell and intense curiosity. Useful for European farmers, dachshunds also became prized by the British royal family, which is well known for its devotion to both hunting and dogs in general, making this scent hound an ideal companion dog. With its unique long, low-to-the-ground form, dachshunds have appeared in engravings and paintings at least since the 1700s.
Queen Victoria and Her Dachshund at Windsor Castle
The long-reigning Queen Victoria of England and descendant of the German House of Hanover kept a series of dachshunds from the 1840s to about the 1880s. One of her favorites, Dacko (1859 – 1871), was immortalized with a bronze statue on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Dacko and other dachshunds appear in many watercolours and sketches in the Royal Collection.
Presidents Cleveland and Kennedy: Two Very Different Experiences
President Grover Cleveland and his wife Frances had a dachshund in addition to their beagle, French poodle and a St. Bernard plus cows and chickens, making a dachshund a very tame responsibility in comparison. While in Germany, John F. Kennedy bought a dachshund for only eight dollars for a friend but had an allergic reaction to the dog he named Offie plus a dislike for the dog’s poor housetraining habits.
Dachshunds in the Military
During World War II, many of the commanders had their own dogs with them overseas and United States Air Force General Claire Chennault owned a dachshund named Joe. Because of their German breeding, dachshunds lost considerable popularity during World Wars I and II, and Rommel’s fondness for his dachshund didn’t help the breed’s American standing.
The Other Political Animals
Thanks to the small size and tenacious nature of the miniature dachshund, several have found homes in the current political world in both parties. Donald Rumsfeld had a miniature dachshund named Reggie. Republican advisor Mary Matalin and Democrat advisor James Carville share their home with their daughters and two dachshunds.
The Long and Short of It
Whether owned by royalty, movers and shakers, or by people just looking for a good family dog, dachshunds telegraph their owners’ appreciation for an amusing breed that attracts artists, writers, politicians and royalty.