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Size and colour selection: a breeding experience

My first dachshund entered my life 15 years ago, when I had the right time to dedicate myself to a new member of our family. At the beginning I chose this breed just because I loved its look. But in a while I fell totally in love with its great qualities of home and work dog. It was for the lucky chance which would have changed my whole life, that there was a very beautiful red wire-haired bitch in the kennel I went to buy my first puppy. It was the first time I saw that colour and I was really bewitched by it. I anxiously waited for her next litter and proudly chose my first red. At that moment I wouldn’t have ever imagined that, both due to my great devotion to that colour and thanks to my sister Lucia’s strong help, I would have become an estimate breeder and a trustworthy referent for the colour “red” in wire-haired dachshunds.

Our "historycal trio", from the left:
VANILLA N/D, Konrad's daughter, born in 1998,
Young Champion ENCI, RSM Champion,
"guardians" in our seaside home.

It has been “a long travel”. At the beginning my first subject was often classified at the last place of his class in the expositions, but now I can proudly say that my red wire-haired dachshunds have been chosen to bring this fantastic colour to the most important kennels in Europe. And that, thanks to those friend breeders with whom we are co-operating, we have Danish, Swedish, Hungarian and German Champions (in Beauty and Work) and boast of the Young European Champion 2006, a red standard, as far as I remember the first one with this kind of colour to reach a European podium, born in our 5th generation. Besides, Italian and International Champions and a very prestigious BOG Young and BIS at the Italian Clubsieger ABC 2002, made by the same subject and confirmed 3 years later with a RBIS.

I write this short article (with many thanks to the very kind and generous author Claudio De Giuliani for giving us the chance) not for narcissism, but because I think that talking about the first steps of our kennel may be useful and interesting for the other breeders. For those who begin to work only now on a really particular colour, which one have to know very well to produce at its top. And for the others not interested in the colour of coat, because of different other selection problems we had to overcome during these years.

our first dachshund, born in 1992, Stud Champion.
In the photos, with his best friend, the schnauzer Maghreb
and with Laura.

My first dachshund has a very interesting pedigree, but with many size crossings. He has a wonderful character and has been a fantastic working dog, but his dorsal line is not very correct, his size not so defined and his coat doubtless could be stronger… In other words… we had to work a lot… Our goal was to bring the red colour to its top expression of pigmentation (strenght of colour) and quality (strenght of texture), to reach a definite division of the sizes in a reasonable time, to keep as much as we could our first dog’s character and working qualities, to work on our own personal type in the highest respect of the Standard. A very difficult but not impossible goal for persons who work with great generosity and strong passion. And a very difficult achievement for who live in a great city like Milan, even if I don’t believe that the number of litters corresponds to the quality of subjects. Of course I am sure that there will be more than one great dog among 100 puppies born in 1 year in the same kennel, but I think also that there will probably be at least a very beautiful dog in just 1 or 2 annual litters, as far as they have correctly chosen. And this due to our experience.


our second dachshund, Viktor's son, born in 1994,
Italian, International and Stud Champion.
In the photo, with Lucia.

Our second dog was our first dachshund’s son, born in the same kennel, thanks to the owner’s generosity. He is a better subject than his father: he reached many championships, but his pedigree has many size crossings too. His mother was in fact a miniature at the limit of her size, with miniature ancestors. He had nevertheless the great quality to be a fantastic parent. All his offspring, if we mate him with a miniature bitch, turned out to be miniatures and, with a standard bitch, standards. On this very topic and lucky characteristic we could really put the basement of our kennel concerning sizes. We began to work on this 3rd generation to go on as far as we could in our selection. And I have to say that our results up till now are encouraging.

Our first litter, born in 1999, from Konrad.
The second puppy from the left is
Italian Champion of Beauty and Work, International Champion,
RSM Champion, World Veteran WUT Champion 2006, European Veteran Champion 2008,
Ungharian Veteran Champion 2008, Ungharian Veteran Club Champion 2008,
Best Veteran N/D VDH Bundessieger 2008.
In the photo, with Lucia during a work text.

Going on with our offspring, thanks also to the work of our foreigner friends, our 6th generation of “small size” has given all miniature and kaninchen dogs, but with very strong bones, healthy and solid and with very good angulations. Our standard offspring have developed more: I think to be at the 8th-9th generation, always in the highest respect of size and with a very solid structure.

I think that the main cause of this fixing of sizes in a short time could have been a very strong use of line-breeding at the 4th and 5th generation and a high selected choice among subjects from other bloodlines but with very definite sizes from those generations on. Moreover, this use of line-breeding with dachshunds which were as close as possible to our own type, both in standard and in miniature and kaninchen, has helped us in keeping some features we love and we are trying to preserve.


Our greatest champion, Konrad's son, born in 2001,
Italian, International, WUT, RSM Champion, ABC Clubsieger,
Riproduttore Selezionato ENCI,
Young ABC Clubsieger, Young RSM Champion,
Trofeo Rio Negri 2002, Trofeo Giuliana Feri 2002.
In the photo, con Lucia.

We were at first completely unaware every time we had a “new” red in a litter, but we began very soon to study genetics concerning colours with great enthusiasm. And to breed these fantastic dogs has become for us also a way to try to preserve and select at their top their wonderful different colours the Standard describes. And naturally and particularly “red” in wire-haired. I think it is a fantastic tonality, which, if expressed at its highest level of strength and quality, may really give more value to dachshunds. I could write pages and pages on this theme, but I restrict myself to its most important aspects.

Even if in dachshund colours are certified for sure two kinds of genes responsible for the “red” fenotype, one recessive and the other dominant, according to my experience I can say that “red”, both in my genealogy and in the others from foreigner bloodlines I know, is dominant. I have never had recessive reds in my puppies and nobody from kennels from abroad has up till now written me about recessive red litters. From a red wire-haired of ours will always bear one or more reds. And from a wild boar born from a red of ours (if not mated with a red) will always bear only wild boars (or chocolates or black and tans, but this is a different matter…) Dominance is of great help in selection and makes our choices very easy. The difficult goal is working on quality of texture and tonality.

RUBIO DELL'IMPERO S/D , Tocai's son, born in 2004,
Danish, Swedish, German VDH Champion.
In the photo in the centre, with our best friend Hanne Andersen,
the owner of Kennel Ravnsager, in Denmark.
In the photo below, with his sister REGINA,
Italian Champion, Young WUT, Young RSM Champion.
Thanks to Hanne, with RUBIO our genealogy has reached the best breeders in Europe.

The first thing a judge considers judging a red wire-haired in expositions is the pigmentation. Eyes must be as darker as possible (I have to say that in 15 years no one of our “reds” has born with yellow or bright eyes. And I begin to consider that as a genetic character of ours. At the same time also our chocolates have always had brown eyes, almost all dark brown. And I think this might happen because of the strong influence of dark pigments coming from the red genotype.) And we are proud to work only on the red shade of the coat instead of the grain or yellow ones. Our best subjects are born mating reds with dark wild boar dachshunds with very very strong coat. This mating helps and improves the two types of colours: reds bear with very strong coat (with undercoat) and the best intensity of pigmentation; and wild boars get thicker coat and very red colour in their tan points.

Carlotta's daughter, Konrad's nephew, born in 2004.
With her Hanne Andersen has started her genealogy
of Miniature and Kaninchen colour red in Denmark.
In the centre:
Alice kisses His Majesty The Prince Henrik of Denmark.
from Alice del Tocai the small red merle
American AKC Champion 2009 (Prop.: Philippa Jordan, NY).

We are working on this line. We haven’t mate red and red yet. We were waiting for such a desirable coat to be fixed. Moreover, we would have worked in a too close line-breeding, or in in-breeding, since in the 90s red dachshunds, particularly in standard size, with different genealogy from ours and correct pedigrees were really few, or even none! Maybe we would begin now to do red plus red, but we are sure not to go over the 1st generation, since we don’t want to loose the other colours we trust in.

I take the liberty to remember that having a red wire-haired dachshund with a “wrong” pedigree is not so difficult. We may get it mating a red short-haired or a red long-haired with a wild boar wire-haired. We will have in both cases at least one wire-haired puppy, maybe with a too short and strong coat or a too long and silky coat, but we will get in any case a red wire-haired. And then??? What about the offspring?

I always mistrust red wire-haired dachshunds whose eyes have a too bright pigmentation, gold brown or even yellow. Remember that there are some countries, in Europe too, were “coat crossing” is still done. Remember that pedigrees don’t go so far back in their blood-lines. But I am a young breeder and maybe many older colleagues who are reading me already know that all…

The most prestigious results reached up till now by our offspring.
At the left:
BELLOMIS YIIPPIE RODSKAGG S/D, Rubio's son, born in 2005,
breeder and owner Kennel Bellomis, Sweden,
Young European Champion 2006, Swedish Champion of Beauty and Work.
In the photo, with our great friend Susanne Segersten, owner of Kennel Bellomis, in Sweden.
At the right:
RAVNSAGERS KLARA GULLA AKASUT S/D, Yiippie's daughter, born in 2006,
breeder Hanne Andersen, owner Allevamento del Tocai,
Italian Campion, VDH Europasiegerin 2008, 2 X Landessiegerin 2008, Landessiegerin Schweiz 2008,
Young WUT, Young RSM Champion (at only 20 months).
In the photo, with Hanne and Lucia at the Europasieger in Dortmund.

Here is our experience up till now. The beginning of a great adventure often “against the stream”, which has cost us so many sacrifices but has also given us the greatest happiness, which has started in an almost solitary way and is becoming a very crowded section of people and which we hope will go on in the highest respect of the Standard and in the strongest love for our dachshunds.

When I look at my first dachshund, who is now 15, old and tired, but with so much love and joy still to give, I know that we will be so sad when he will be gone, but I am in a certain sense happy thinking that starting from him, sweet and unaware “pet” dachshund, with that “red” colour which upset most judges and breeders at our first expositions, thanks to our efforts, but also to the first few judges both Italian and from other countries who understood and appreciated us at the beginning and to the great breeders who had trusted in us and are actively co-operating with us, has really begun a little great dynasty.

Laura Ranza
July 2007

This text is published in:

I BASSOTTI, by Claudio De Giuliani, Editoriale Olimpia, 2008

A very interesting book just come out in Italy,
which unfortunately our foreign friends can't read,
because it is very very well done.