Can we all agree that dachshunds are underrated? Their stubby little legs and derpy little faces provide so much amusement, yet they tend to be overshadowed by breeds like corgis and pugs, equally stubby, derpy and adorable. Maybe one of the reasons for their tendency to be overshadowed has to do with the fact that not a lot of people can't spell -- or say, for that matter -- their name. (For the record, it's pronounced "dock-son.") Naturally, we English-speakers have made it easier on ourselves and have come up with a million and one nicknames for dachshunds: doxies, sausage dogs and, of course, wiener dogs.
But, what came first: the wiener or the dog?
It’s a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg story; you see, both dachshunds and sausages originated in Germany. The development of the dachshund breed gained popularity in the 17th century, when they were used as hunting dogs. Literally translating to “badger dog,” the dachshund was later bred into a miniature size for hare and fox hunting.
Meanwhile, frankfurters became a German culinary staple around the same time. There’s some discrepancy as to where the frankfurter-style sausage was truly born -- Austrians stake a claim, since the word “wiener” is Viennese in nature -- but the origin of the phrase “wiener dog” is more straightforward. A butcher known for his dachshund pup, Johann Georghehner, created “little dog” sausages, which became known as the dachshund sausage.
In the late 1800s, sausage vendors began selling these specific dachshund sausages outside college dorms, and because of the etymological connection, they became known as dog carts. Around the same time and into the early 1900s, sausages became typical ball-game food. While the term “hot dog” was being tossed around here and there, it really caught on when sausage vendors at the New York Polo Grounds during a particularly cold Giants game in April (before the team moved to San Francisco) were advertising their merchandise as “red hot.”
And, funnily enough, a sports cartoonist named Tad Dorgan covering the game drew a cartoon of a dachshund sausage with a head, tail and legs. The issue? Dorgan didn’t know how to spell “dachshund,” so he just labeled it “hot dog.” Can we blame him? Historians haven’t been able to locate this particular cartoon, but we can picture it just fine:
And that was that! Frankfurters have forever been known as hot dogs and dachshunds are known as wiener dogs. All is well.