Running of the Weiner Dogs

And… they’re off! Races featuring the running of the Weiner Dogs are becoming more popular in the United States every year. They can be run on dirt, sand or grass, and they are often held to raise money for worthwhile causes. People flock to the fairgrounds or racetracks to watch these little dogs charge toward the finish line – or wherever else they decide to run.

Not many Dachshunds are bred to race, which is a good thing for the breed. The dogs that race are mostly pets and companion animals. Sometimes dogs will conveniently forget that they are supposed to be racing, and will visit with other dogs, instead. But if their owners are at the finish line with treats, some of them will stay on track.

The yearly championship races are the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals, and they are held in December of each year in San Diego, California. The race is part of the festivities for the Holiday Bowl game. Other venues claim to host championship races, but this is the only recognized championship. One of the fleetest Weiner dogs is “Hank McGuppy”, from Boston, Massachusetts. He has won the championship four times.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about Dachshund racing. Some people fear that it may become like Greyhound racing, where animals that don’t perform are sometimes euthanized. In addition, Doxies have very long backs, and it is thought by some to be bad for their spines to race. The Dachshund Club of America actually opposes weiner dog races, due to the chance for spinal injuries and the worry about possible mistreatment of the animals. Advocates for animal rights even dislike the name “Weiner Dog”, since they feel that it is offensive. But the dogs don’t seem to mind.

Australia held the first recognized Dachshund races in the 1970’s. Meets there might include other dog breeds as well, including Afghan Hounds and Whippets. These were just-for-fun events, held by the dog owners themselves. Doxies also race every year at the University of California, Davis in their Picnic Day celebration.

Dachshund racing is very popular in California, where they can comfortably race year-round. As a rule, more smooth-coated Dachshunds race than their long-haired friends, and the long-hairs are generally a bit more laid back. The running of the Weiner dogs in Huntington Beach takes place in Old World Village, which is appropriate, since the breed hails from Germany.

The standard length of a Dachshund race is stated at 25 – 50 meters, but some courses are 22 yards in length. The owners usually coax their dogs to cross the finish line first with treats and sometimes a little begging.

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