Outside the Dackelmuseum in Passau, Germany, I dropped to the cobblestone pavement to greet its four-legged ambassadors, year-old siblings Moni and Little Seppi. The black-and-tan short-haired dachshunds sniffed me, then Little Seppi reached up to gently lick my face.
A kiss so soon? I felt special, though I’m guessing I was one of hundreds he’d smooched since the Dackelmuseum, or Dachshund Museum, opened in April. The 860-square-foot space pays homage to the pooch that originated in Germany and first was bred for hunting badgers. These days, the breed is a popular pet in many European countries and was ranked 13th in the United States last year by the American Kennel Club.
Even before the debut of the world’s first museum devoted to the wonders of the wiener dog, the quirky attraction had garnered much media attention. The museum sports some 4,000 pieces of wienerabilia and an unrivaled dachshund-themed gift shop. I learned of it because my Facebook page filled up with links from friends who know I go bonkers for the breed.
Since Passau, an attractive historic city in southeastern Germany, is only a day’s drive from my home in the Netherlands, I immediately put a visit on my shortlist. Then a friend mentioned the Teckel Hotel, run by a Dutch couple in the Austrian Alps devoted to “teckels,” the Dutch word for dachshund. This being only a few hours southwest of Passau, my “teckel tour” was on.
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In the baroque center of Passau, situated along the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers, it’s easy to spot the Dackelmuseum during opening hours. Co-owners Seppi Küblbeck and his longtime partner, Oliver Storz, who arrived during my visit, adorn the exterior with dachshund-shaped benches, watering cans and more. On nice days you’re likely to find one or both of the men, often with Moni and Little Seppi, sitting outside in their knee-length lederhosen chatting up passers-by. Passau, a main stop on the busy European river cruise circuit and a starting point for many cycling tours, hosts more than 1 million tourists a year.
“People, especially Americans, will send us emails … and ask if we’ll be open and if we’ll be there, but most of all if the dogs will be there,” Storz said. “I can’t believe we’re like celebrities, but if the dogs are here, it’s like an audience with the pope. They kneel down and kiss them and sometimes go on their backs.”
When the two started dating 21 years ago, Küblbeck had a long-haired dachshund who initially would turn her backside to Storz but grew to love him. Moni and Little Seppi are the couple’s third generation of dachshunds.
Over the years, the men, who are both medal-winning master florists and once owned a shop together, collected dachshund memorabilia during their travels and ended up with several hundred pieces.
A few years ago, after Küblbeck broke his foot and Storz was hospitalized with a burst appendix, they decided to shutter the flower shop and open a less-stressful business selling classic Bavarian souvenirs, with some dackel doodads on the side.
“We discovered from our international travelers that the dachshund is really popular all over the world,” Storz said. “So we started to increase that collection and had a 50 percent turnover of dachshund items every day.”
After a little digging around, they found a spot for a bona fide dachshund museum and gift shop. Thanks to some early publicity in Europe, the founder of the Belgian punk rock band Les Teckels reached out to donate 3,500 items. They’ve since picked up more donations, including a collection of 2,000 items.
But Küblbeck and Storz are not just amassing inventory. They’ve done a spectacular job of arranging and displaying dachshund items and information, including basics on the subtypes of the breed, famous dachshund owners, dachshunds in music, sport, art, toys, books, Christmas decorations and more. One exhibit is devoted to Waldi, the sausage-dog symbol of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
The next day, I headed down to the mountain resort town of Mayrhofen, an hour from Innsbruck, to the Teckel Hotel.
I was greeted with a five-bark salute by Penny, the wire-haired matriarch (along with sister Pip).
The 15-room hotel, which is a compact and comfortable ski lodge in the winter, is a dachshund’s delight in the summer. Owners Eric and Anneliese van den Broeke have gone to great lengths to satisfy canine and human customers, adding amenities such as a doggy pool, washing tub, bowls of water everywhere, secure play areas inside and out, and comfy chairs all over. Rooms come equipped with a dog bed, bowl and branded biscuits.
The longtime dachshund owners bought the hotel last year and opened in July 2017. As a joke, they’d posted a note to a dachshund Facebook group suggesting maybe they should turn the place into a destination for teckels.
“We got around 1,000 reactions from people saying they’d love to come and when could they book,” said Eric. “It was crazy. So we rushed to open in the summer instead of waiting for ski season.”
The interior is furnished in regional alpine style, with paintings, lamps and the same benches found at the Dackelmuseum.
Where to stay
Hotel Residenz Passau
This historical hotel on the Danube River features a resident dachshund, Clara, who frequently is featured on the hotel’s Facebook page. Rooms from $130, with Dackelmuseum weekend packages available.
Open for summer season June 1 to Oct. 15 and winter ski season Dec. 15 to April 15. (Called Chalet Amadeus during winter, but dachshunds welcome year round.) Features alpine decor dotted with dachshund doodads and amenities. Doubles from $150; fee includes up to four dachshunds. (Other breeds allowed only if they’re with a dachshund family.)
What to do
Grosse Messergasse 1
Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from April through December. Closed January and February; open by appointment in March. Admission, $5.80; students $3.50; free for children 12 and younger, and for dogs, who are allowed indoors. (The museum is organizing a dachshund parade, which is scheduled for Oct. 3.)