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From the Fringe

Wurst-Case Scenario for Dachshunds in Germany

Dog breeders are calling it a "wurst-case scenario" for dachshunds as Germans are apparently losing interest in owning the stubborn "sausage dog" that has long been equated with Germany.

A running dachshund

They're cute -- and fast

Dachshunds used to be as common on the streets of Germany as beer bellies and lederhosen and VW Beetles. But, like the Beetle, the dachshund has gone out of style.

A chihuahua wearing sunglasses

Mean competition

Dachshund births have fallen by 40 percent in the past decade to 7,120 a year, according to figures released this month. There are now less than 50,000 dachshunds nationwide. That is down by more than 10,000 a decade ago, according to the German Dog Federation, which reports an alarming rise in the numbers of non-German breeds such as Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus and Tibetan temple dogs.

A colorful dachshund toy

Waldi was the officials mascot of the Munich Olympics

Tiny breeds are all the rage these days and the feisty little "weenie dog" is not in demand.

"There are far more popular new breeds in Germany than there were 30 years ago when the dachshund was the mascot of the 1972 Munich Olympics," said Dieter Honsslek, president of the German Dachshund Breeders Association.

Suddenly out

A dachshund with a carriage attached to him that carries a German alpine cottage

What would New York's Steuben Parade be without him?

"People see Paris Hilton holding a Chihuahua, or they see movies like 'Suddenly Blonde' featuring Chihuahuas and people think they're cute and suddenly everybody wants one," Honsslek said.

"Dog breeds are subject to fads and styles," he added. "In the 1950s people wanted cocker spaniels after they saw 'Lady and the Tramp' and in the 190s they wanted collies when they saw 'Lassie' on TV."

Two German shepherds with a toy version in the middle

German shepherds are still Germany's most popular dog

Dachshunds were the most popular breed in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, followed by German shepherds. But German shepherds took the lead in the 1990s when a German shepherd starred in a police action TV series "Inspector Rex" which was syndicated worldwide and is still seen in repeats in some 25 countries.

Perfect hunters

Denmark's Queen Margrethe and her husband Henry with one of their dachshunds

Danish Queen Margrethe II. and her husband, Henry, are the most prominent royal dachshund devotees these days

The breed's history dates back to the 16th century when hunters bred the short-legged, aggressive dog to fit into tight holes to catch foxes and badgers.

"German hunters used to boast that a single dachshund was worth a whole pack of hounds when it came to bagging game," Honsslek said.

Kaiser Wilhelm II even had a monument erected to his trusty dachshund, Erdmann, who lived from 1890 to 1901.

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