If you live outside of Germany, don’t be surprised if you’ve never come across the name Deutscher Wachtelhund before. Not many people have. Considering what a friendly, affectionate dog the Deutscher Wachtelhund is, that’s something of a pity. Bred as a hunter, these remarkable little pooches have a talent for sniffing out game – some say their tracking abilities are more than a match for that other legendary scenthound, the Bloodhound. If you’re keen to find out more about this rare breed, you’ve come to the right place. Without further ado, here are 10 things you didn’t know about the Deutscher Wachtelhund.
1. They hail from Germany
The Deutscher Wachtelhund was developed in Germany around 1890. According to Wikipedia, it descends from another very old German breed, the Stoeberer. The Stoeberer was an incredibly versatile hunting breed that rose to prominence shortly after the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. The name ‘Deutscher Wachtelhund’ translates to ‘German quail dog’, a remarkably on-point name given its prowess as an upland bird flusher. In some quarters, it’s also referred to as the German Spaniel.
2. They were recognized as a breed in 1903
A breeder named Frederick Roberth ‘created’ the very first Deutscher Wachtelhund in around 1890. It wouldn’t take too long for the breed to achieve popularity among hunters looking for a versatile, capable hunting companion. By 1903, there were enough Deutscher Wachtelhund’s around for the breed to be awarded official recognition in their native Germany. Shortly after, the German breed club, the Verein fur Deutsche Wachtelhund (VDW), came into existence. Outside of Germany, it was a different story. It would take all the way until 1996 before the United Kennel Club awarded the Deutscher Wachtelhund official recognition. So far, the American Kennel Club has only gone so far as to allow the breed entry into their Foundation Stock Service category.
3. They’re incredibly rare
The Deutscher Wachtelhund hasn’t yet made the leap from working dog to pet. Even in its native Germany, it’s still considered more of a working dog than a companion. Foresters and professional hunters may keep one, but precious few other people do. Outside of Germany, their numbers are even scarcer. In the 1960s, a couple of Deutscher Wachtelhund’s were imported into the US. In 1994, a further pair were bought over. But they never really took off. Today, there are believed to be no more than around 100 Deutscher Wachtelhund’s in North America.
4. They’re middleweight contenders
There might be smaller dogs than the Deutscher Wachtelhund, but there’s plenty of bigger ones too. This is a breed that sits firmly in the middle ground, both in terms of height and weight. Most will tip the scales between 44–66 pounds (20–30 kg) and range in height from 18 to 21 inches at the shoulder. There is, however, a lot of variance across the breed, so don’t be surprised if you see one considerably larger or smaller than average… if you ever see one at all, of course.
5. You need to keep a close eye on their health
As dogtime.com notes, the Deutscher Wachtelhund breed is prone to many of the same conditions that other breeds of spaniel face. While most are robust and healthy, a close check needs to be kept on their health to stop any potential problems from developing. Some of the most common conditions that can affect the breed include:
- splayed feet
- crooked legs
- ear infections
- skin problems
6. They’re used to hunt boar in Sweden
Although their numbers are still few, one of the few places outside of Germany where the breed is, if not prospering, then at least present, is Sweden. They were bought in to help control the increasing wild boar population that’s become a problem in the south of the country. Since then, they’ve been bred with native spitzhounds to create a line of strong, capable crossbreeds that are regularly used in hunting exhibitions.
7. They’re blessed with thick coats
The Deutscher Wachtelhund was bred to withstand the often harsh conditions of the German terrain. As a result, they’ve been blessed with a thick, double coat that’s intended to keep them warm and snug, no matter what the weather. To the touch, the top coat can feel slightly tough, even harsh. By contrast, the undercoat is soft and dense. Their coats can vary from a little bit wavy to downright curly. As they shed frequently, they aren’t the best pet for allergy sufferers. A weekly groom is essential to avoid matting.
8. They need plenty of exercise
As the AKC notes, the Deutscher Wachtelhund was bred as a hunting dog. As a result, it would far rather spend its days keeping busy than resting up on the sofa. To keep boredom at bay (not to mention obesity – like most spaniels, the Deutscher Wachtelhund love its food and can pack on the pounds easily), they should be exercised frequently and treated to plenty of games. As they respond well to training, agility classes are a great way to keep both their bodies and minds stimulated.
9. They shouldn’t be left alone with small pets
Deutscher Wachtelhunds are typically very friendly and easy-going little dogs. They get on well with kids, don’t mind strangers (although they might be a little suspicious the first time they met an unfamiliar face), and tolerate other dogs exceptionally well. But if you value the safety of your cats, your guinea pigs, or your hamsters, you’ll keep them well away. Like all hunting dogs, the Deutscher Wachtelhund has a strong prey instinct. When they see something small, furry, and edible scuttling along the floor, they won’t be able to resist chasing after it. And if they catch it… well, the less said about that the better.
10. They can suffer from separation anxiety
When a Deutscher Wachtelhunds bonds with a family, it bonds hard. There’s no middle ground with this breed. If they fall for you, they stay fallen. Which is lovely… we could all do with a bit of unconditional love sometimes. The problem comes when you try and leave them alone, if even for a few hours. Basically, they don’t like it… at all. If a Deutscher Wachtelhund isn’t properly trained and socialized from a young age, they can become very prone to separation anxiety when left alone. A miserable experience for them, and not great for you either.