First Time Watch: The Ugly Dachshund (1966)

By Christian DiMartino

The Ugly Dachshund is very much a 1960s Disney comedy, but luckily for The Ugly Dachshund, I happen to like 1960s Disney comedies. Think: The Absent-Minded Professor, That Darn Cat!, Blackbeard’s Ghost, etc.

The Ugly Dachshund isn’t quite as good as those films, but it works for similar reasons. You know the saying, “They don’t make’em like they used to?” That applies here. Why? Simple: many family comedies that are inflicted upon us are, well, not good. I pity the families dragged to see something along the lines of last year’s The Addams Family (or those families roped into renting this year’s dreadful misfire Scoob). I do not have kids, I probably won’t either for that matter, but I choose to watch these dreaded movies because they bring out the best in me, creatively. Families, or more so the parents, don’t have a choice. Yet movies like The Ugly Dachshund take me back to a time whenever not every family film felt like such a cheap product.

The Ugly Dachshund isn’t great family entertainment, but it’s perfectly fine. Light as a feather, funny, sunny and harmless, it’s just the kind of movie that works to take your mind off of the horrors of the world. Could you do better? Yes, but I assure you, you could do much worse.

Dean Jones and Suzanne Pleshette, Disney regulars at the time, evoke plenty of charm here as Mark and Fran Garrison, a happily married couple who get more than they bargained for whenever they discover that their dachshund, named Danke, is having puppies. While at the vet waiting for their delivery, Mark is told of a Great Dane that has been abandoned by its mother. So Mark adopts the Great Dane, named Brutus. Fran is not exactly happy with this decision, and to make matters worse, the Dachshunds, along with Brutus, constantly wreak havoc, with Brutus usually taking the blame because those dachshunds look just so innocent. There’s another problem though: Brutus believes he is a dachshund.

The antics of this film have probably been seen before, but this was the 60s so I allow slight leeway. Not to mention, it’s a dog movie. A rare one in which you know that the dogs are going to be okay in the end, as opposed to a tragic death. The Ugly Dachshund might be seen as kind of square, in that regard, but it all goes down so easily that you shouldn’t mind.

Jones and Pleschette worked together a few times, in films such as the hilarious Blackbeard’s Ghost and the insane but nonetheless funny The Shaggy D.A., but they work smoothly together here, providing just the right amount of charm whenever the dogs aren’t onscreen. Yet this is a dog movie, and it belongs to the dogs. If you’re an idiot like me, just watching dogs cause a ruckus will serve as entertainment enough for you.

The Ugly Dachshund is nothing to write home about, but nothing to complain about either. It’s a quick 90 minutes with just the right amount of charm. It does have an accidental racial stereotype, but it was the 60s, I’ll give it a pass. Lastly, as I mentioned before, I’d rather watch something like this, as cheerfully fine as it may be, than corporate trash like Scoob any day.

Streaming on Disney+

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