The Alpine Dachsbracke is a relatively modern breed of dog created in the late 19th century. Although, dogs resembling the Alpine Dachsbracke, who may very well be its antecedents, have existed in the Alps for centuries, this breed is a relatively modern invention. It was by selectively breeding Standard Dachshunds and very old strains of hounds including the Austrian Black and Tan Hound, that the Alpine Dachsbracke was created in the mid to late 1800’s.
Known as Alpenlandische Dachsbracke in its native country of Austria, the Alpine Dachsbracke was specifically bred to assist hunters by tracking wounded deer, boar, hare and fox. At the time of its inception there was need for a hardy, motivated dog with a good nose capable of following a trail even after it had gone cold, while also being able to survive the harsh climate in the high altitudes of the Alps. The Alpine Dachsbracke was the answer.
From the Austrian Black and Tan Hound it received its iconic scenting ability and the durability necessary to survive and function at a high level in the mountainous terrain and high altitude of the Alps. The Austrian Black and Tan Hound, considered to be an ancient breed, is believed to have descended from the Keltenbracke or the ancient Celtic Hounds. It is also part of a group of dogs known as Grand Brackes. A group that includes the Tyrolean Hound and the Styrian Coarse-Haired Hound, all of which were specifically developed over numerous centuries to hunt in Austria’s mountainous areas. It was these mountain dog genes that the developers of the Alpine Dachsbracke wanted to embody in their creation.
The Alpine Dachsbracke gained it's short stature, courage, determination and an exceptionally high prey drive from the Dachshund. Known as the original Badger dog, this breed is a natural and courageous hunter, and a dog best described as "tenacious to the point of absurdity". By breeding these two distinctly unique breeds; the Dachshund and Austrian Black and Tan Hound, they were able to create a dog that had the best attributes of both, while limiting the negative attributes of either, such as the mobility problems the Dachshunds short legs would have provided in the terrain of the Alps or the lower prey drive and tenacity of the Austrian Black and Tan Hound.
Although this breed was bred to be relatively short, it was developed to be slightly bigger than its German counterpart the Westphalian Dachsbracke; a smaller, short legged version of the Deutsche Bracke. This was a survivability decision as the Westphalian Dachsbracke would have been unable to withstand the harsh climate in the high altitude of the Alps.
The combination proved so successful that the Alpine Dachsbracke, known then as the Alpine-Erzgebirgs-Dachsbracke quickly rose to prominence as the favored hunting dog among common hunters and royalty alike for its outstanding hunting and tracking abilities. It is documented that Crown Prince Rudolf of Habsburg, the archduke of Austria and heir to the throne specifically instructed his gamekeepers from Mursteg and Ischl to ensure that these dogs were included on his hunting trips to Egypt and Turkey in 1881 and 1885 respectively.
In 1932 the widespread use of the Alpine Dachsbracke and its success resulted in it being recognized as the third scent hound breed by the top Austrian canine organizations of the time. In 1975, the name was changed from Alpine-Erzgebirgs-Dachsbracke to Alpenlandische Dachsbracke or Alpine Dachsbrake in English when the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) recognized the breed and declared Austria to be its country of origin. In 1991 the FCI placed the Alpine Dachsbracke in Group 6 Scenthounds, Section 2 “Leash Hounds” with the Hanoverian Scenthound (Hannover'scher Schweisshund,) and the Bavarian Mountain Scenthound (Bayrischer Gebirgsschweisshund ).
The Alpine Dachsbracke is primarily a hunting dog. However, modern times have decreased the need for individuals to hunt for income or survival and subsequently reduced the dogs’ role for this purpose. Today, hunting for the Alpine Dachsbracke is primarily a game of sport performed at localized gatherings by small clubs or groups of fanciers. The breed has instead, with its entertaining “forever puppy” personality and gentleness with children, been moved into the role of being kept primarily as a house pet and has adapted well to this new lifestyle.
In the English-speaking world the only major kennel club to recognize the Alpine Dachsbracke is the United Kennel Club (UKC), where the breed is in their Scenthound Group. The breed is also recognized by a number of localized hunting clubs and minor and open dog registries. In the United States, the Alpine Dachsbracke is a rare and unfamiliar breed. However, its background, similar usage as a scenthound, and temperament would make it an Old World variation of today’s ever popular Beagle.
The Alpine Dachsbracke is a short legged, sturdy hunting dog. The robust body should be strong boned with a firm muscular appearance. Although the breed is short in stature, with a height of only 13-16 inches; its 33 to 40 lb weight makes it a medium to large sized thick dog. Longer than it is tall, in judging the quality of an individual specimen the proportion of the dog is of more importance than the actual size. The breed standard as listed by the FCI calls for the height of the breed in relation to its length to be as 2 is to 3.
The skull and muzzle of the Alpine Dachsbracke should be of near equal length with the distance from the top of the skull to the occiput being slightly longer than the length of the nose to the union of muzzle and skull. The standard requires the relationship of muzzle to skull to be as 9 is to 10. The only acceptable nose color is black. The skull of the Alpine Dachsbracke is lightly arched with a pronounced stop and well defined furrow present between the eyes on the forehead. The occiput should not be overly pronounced but only slightly emphasized. Eye color should be dark brown, with tightly fitting black eyelids and eye rims. The lips should be tight. When viewed from the side the lips should have a moderately rounded curve starting at the front of the lips, graduating into to the hinge of the jaw. The teeth should meet in a strong scissors or pincer type bite. The somewhat thick ears are set high atop the skull without folds; when relaxed the well rounded tips of the ears should extend downward and lie even with or lower than the jaw.
The muscular neck should not be excessively long and should be in proportion with the overall size of the dog. A short stocky little dog the chest is deep and broad with a well pronounced forechest. The overall depth of the chest should be roughly half of the height at the shoulder. The strongly muscled, sloping shoulders should be long with close fitting, tight shoulder blades. The elongated trunk should be strong, well muscled with moderately emphasized withers. The back is straight from the shoulders to the hips with a barely sloping croup. The tail is set high, carried slightly downward, thicker at the base and gradually tapering toward the end. In length the tail should just reach the ground. The belly should have moderate tuck up. The straight, strong legs should appear short in relation to the body. Both the front and rear feet are strong, well rounded and with toes the sit tightly against each other. The pads are thick and well cushioned. Nails should be black. The skin of the dog should be elastic, but free from wrinkles.
The coat of the Alpine Dachsbracke consists of a very thick top coat and a close fitting dense undercoat that covers the entire body. The most desirable color is dark deer red with or without lightly interspersed black hairs. Another acceptable color is black with clearly defined red-brown markings on the head (Vieraugl- the two markings above the eyes), chest, legs, feet and underside of tail. A white star or blaze on the chest is also acceptable.
Although the Alpine Dachsbracke was primarily developed for use as a hunting dog capable of surviving in the high altitude climate of the Alps, it was it's lovable, “forever puppy” personality that made it a popular modern house pet. Furthermore, while it is true that the Alpine Dachsbracke is an intelligent and fearless hunter that has proven its mettle time and time again as a tireless working dog, it was its ability to entertain and amuse as a family companion that has helped it survive through to modern day. It is these mixed qualities that makes it not only a good companion for the home, but a trustworthy, loyal, and effective little guard dog. The breed is considered to be rather yappy and quick to sound the alarm at the slightest of perceived disturbances.
Friendly by nature the breed is noted for being exceptionally good with children, despite the Dachshund blood coursing through its veins. A lively, energetic little dog they are inherently sociable and friendly with those that they know. With strangers the breed can be a bit standoffish and reserved, although they do warm up very quickly in the presence of affection.
Not known for being excessively territorial or for having problems with other dogs; the Alpine Dachsbrake like most any other breed of dog should be socialized around other dogs early in its life to prevent future problems. Its typically amiable nature with other dogs does not, however, mean that the Alpine Dachsbracke is a push over when it comes to other dogs trying to bully it. It is and always will be a fearless hunter, from tenacious and pugnacious Dachshund ancestry. However, unlike some other breeds of dog, its desire in a quarrel is not to seriously injure or kill the other dog, but only to resolve the issue at hand. As soon as the other dog submits or retreats from the battle, the Alpine Dachsbracke will return to his usual comical and fun loving self.
As an intelligent breed of dog, mental stimulation and exercise will be required to stave off boredom and prevent behaviors such as digging, chewing or incessant barking that we as humans view as destructive or annoying. As a natural hunter, the Alpine Dachsbracke does possess a rather high prey drive and may be a threat to homes with small animals. As such, it is not recommended for homes that already have cats, rabbits, birds or other animals than can be easily injured by this breed of dog. This prey drive may also cause the Alpine Dachsbracke to actively hunt the smaller pets of a neighbor.
In the home, the breed is noted for being moderately inactive or having a tendency to adopt the sedentary lifestyle. Although this does make it suitable for life in an apartment or small home, it should be given plenty of exercise to prevent obesity; a problem that can be especially problematic and cause of variety of serious health issues for short statured, long bodied dogs such as the Alpine Dachsbracke. Obesity is also known for being a serious problem among the owners of this breeds ancestor, the Dachshund.
Overall the Alpine Dachsbracke is to be considered as an excellent, loving, sociable and friendly breed of dog. It’s noted “forever puppy” personality makes it an outstanding family pet that can provide years of joy, companionship and love for the family.
The short coat of the Alpine Dachsbracke makes this breed an easy of dog to groom. Their smooth, thick coat requires minimal brushing to reduce shedding and remove dead hair; bathing should only be done once or twice a month or when dirty so as not to strip the coat of its essential oils.
Due to the rarity of the Alpine Dachsbracke in the United States there have been no reported occurrences of congenital health defects. This does not mean that there are none, only that none have been reported to the major canine health registries in the English-speaking world. However, like the Dachshund, its unique skeletal structure which includes a rather long body and spinal column with a short ribcage, they may be at risk for back injuries. The most common injury to affect elongated breeds is Intervertebral Disk Disease; a condition in which the intervertebral disks sitting between the vertebrae of the spine become damaged, which can lead to extreme pain or paralysis. The risk of developing this condition is known to be increased by obesity, jumping, rough handling, or intense exercise, all of which place greater strain on the vertebrae of the spine.
As with any purchase of a purebred dog it is important that the animal be acquired from a reputable kennel that is willing to provide health documents, certifications and pictures of past litters.