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Red colour in wire-haired Dachshund

article published on “I Nostri Cani”, the E.N.C.I. official magazine

Selected and preserved for many years by a few breeders from Italy as well as from other European countries, for the sake of so peculiar a pigmentation, the wire-haired dachshund’s red colour has lately become “fashionable”. The greatest European breeders have bought at least one red subject; the most prestigious shows have a towering percentage of red wire-haired (sometimes two or more dogs in the same Class); many puppies with this colouring are being produced (and sold); the most important judges have begun to appreciate their qualities, and not seldom they grant high awards to red wire-haired; even in the United States, where red wire-haired have always been present, three dogs from my line of descent have been requested.

At present, particular attention is paid to the dachshund’s coat colour, whatever the hair type. This has brought a rediscovery and a large-scale resumption of the brown and tan colour (“chocolate”), and of the red in wire-haired. I have recently had the pleasure of seeing in Germany a chocolate wire-haired which really represents the utmost expression of its type, unfortunately seldom seen in the most part of dachshunds of this colour, often showing an attenuated coat pigmentation, a mucosae depigmentation to beige, almost pink, and too light an eye colour, green or yellow-green. The chocolate colour must be dark brown with red markings, it must have brown mucosae, nails and nose, and brown eyes, as intense as possible.

Verifiably referred to since the very beginning (I have found in a Stambook from 1913 a drawing of a red wire-haired dachshund, very beautiful as to coat tone and quality), the red in the wire-haired is a very pleasurable colour, which, when at its top level expression and typology, can really give the dachshund a great value. It falls under the category defined by the Standard as “monochromic”, within a tone range which covers “red”, “reddish-yellow” and “yellow”. To this I would add light champagne-beige, which surely represents a type degeneration (almost always soft coat and sparse or lacking undercoat, too abounding moustaches, very furry ears, and head and sternum covered by long “tufts” that come back in spite of stripping), still seen in several subjects.

In the dachshund’s colour map, two red-hair genes are present, one dominant and one recessive. After a seventeen-year experience, I can say that my genealogy as well as other foreign lines I know is dominant. A red wire-haired dachshund with a dominant gene will nearly always produce at least one red-haired in its litter. Its wildboar (or black and tan, or “chocolate”, or dapple) offspring do not have a recessive light-pigment allele. They will never give birth to a red one, unless they mate with a red one, in which case the colour only results because of the latter. I’m very often asked for a red couple (male and female) to start a breeding. The “neophytes’” enthusiasm is great, when I answer that one dachshund is enough to obtain that particular pigmentation. Thus it is possible to go on working on one’s own type, introducing only one subject of the new colour. I think the recessive red can still be found in some American breeders. In the United States, solid black is still admitted, which can bear a recessive red allele (“ee red”), as it happens for instance with cockers and labradors.

Dominance makes selection quite easy. More difficult is working on the colour shading and the texture quality that such a distinctive pigmentation deserves. Obtaining a red wire-haired dachshund at its highest expression is difficult. Perhaps that’s the reason why the few top quality red dachshunds (as mentioned above for “chocolate” ones) are particularly prized by judges, who give breeders credit for their careful, accurate and thorough work.

The red coat shade must be preferred to the yellow (wheat) one, and it must be homogeneous on the whole subject. The nose, nails and mucosae must be black. The eyes must be black, or very dark brown at the most. No need to say that a beautiful red wire-haired dachshund must be in its appearance the opposite of the aforementioned champagne-coloured one. It must have a strong coat, with adequate moustaches and very good undercoat, the c must be thick but short on the ears and on the head.

Ultimately, I wish to remark how chancy the breeding of dachshunds of this colour can be, on account of frenzy and impatience in following fashion. Beware at using studs from foreign lines or importing a foreign brood selected briskly and with poor attention to their genetic background. In some countries, even in Europe, where “coat-crossing” is still in effect, it is absolutely permitted to obtain a red wire-haired through mating a red short-haired or long-haired subject with a wildboar wire-haired. And. if these dogs can already in the phenotype differ from the proper red wire-haired, showing sometimes a bit too short a hair and undersized moustaches, or a bit too long and abundant a hair, sometimes even too light an eye-colour (reddish-yellow or yellow), in the genotype they unfortunately represent “a loose cannon” for future generations.

Laura Ranza
(from “I Nostri Cani” - the Official E.N.C.I. Magazine, Year 54°, n. 10, November 2008)

(Translated into English by Alessandro Storti)