Dachshund Dog

Barri J. Morrison, DVM
Written by:
Published: August 23, 2022
Dachshund Dog

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Famously nicknamed the “hot dog” or “wiener dog,” Dachshunds (or Doxies for short) are known for their long silhouette, short and muscular legs, brave and energetic personality, and always being on the lookout.

“Dachshund” comes from the German words for badger (dachs) and dog (hund), as these dogs were originally bred in 15th-century Germany to hunt badgers. The characteristic forward-flopping ears protect Dachshunds’ ear canals from foreign material as they race through brush. The somewhat curled up tail makes it visible to the hunters behind them.

Dachshunds were bred to be independent hunters of dangerous prey. They can be brave to the point of carelessness and a bit tenacious, but their charming nature and famous body make them one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S.

Dachshunds come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, sizes and coat types. Standard Dachshunds weigh from 16 to 32 pounds, while miniature Dachshunds are under 11 pounds. The average height of a standard Dachshund is 8-9 inches, while that of a miniature Dachshund is 5-6 inches.

Caring for a Dachshund Dog

Dachshunds are willful, headstrong, playful, and mischievous. They are also smart and attentive dogs. With a deep bark that is characteristic of much bigger dogs, Dachshunds make great watchdogs.

Although they are small, Dachshunds need regular exercise to stay fit and build strong muscles to support and protect their backs. Dachshunds are not built for extensive running, jumping, or swimming, but these determined pups are willing to do it all.

To help keep your Dachshund’s back healthy and prevent injuries, try to limit their jumping by installing pet stairs or ramps near furniture and beds.

Keeping your Dachshund at a healthy weight also helps minimize the risk of a back injury.

Dachshund Health Issues

The number one health issue in a Dachshund is back ailments due to the dog’s long spine, muscular and bowed legs, and low-to-the-ground stature.

Dachshunds are also dolichocephalic (long-faced) dogs. This means that they have more nasal lining than short-nosed dogs and therefore are more prone to fungal, bacterial, or other infections. 

Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) in Dachshunds is very common, and it can lead to complete and permanent paralysis of all four legs if not treated promptly. IVDD is caused by a bulging or slipped disc within the vertebral column of the spine. As many as 25% of Dachshunds develop IVDD in their lifetime.

Bring your Dachshund to the vet if you notice a change in the way they move or any of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble walking

  • Limping

  • Holding head/neck down

  • Dragging paws

  • Scuffed toenails

Depending on the severity of the disc damage, treatment with anti-inflammatory and pain medications may be recommended, as well as muscle relaxants and strict cage rest. Cage rest means no playing, running, or jumping. Only short leash walks to go to the bathroom are allowed.

If your home has stairs, your dog will need to be carried up and down, and they should not be allowed to jump on or off furniture. When holding a Dachshund with back injuries, support their hind end with one hand and chest with the other.

Surgical correction of IVDD is often necessary to help dogs regain use of their legs and other functions affected by a slipped disc.

Obesity

Dachshunds are a breed that is predisposed to obesity. Their short stature and small legs make it more difficult to exercise. Dachshunds are also prone to disorders that impact their mobility, such as IVDD and orthopedic conditions. These conditions make it harder for your dog to move, which leads to weight gain.

It’s important to have your vet examine and weigh your Dachshund a few times a year to ensure they remain healthy.

You can also visually monitor your dog’s weight by feeling for their ribs, which should be easy to feel and only under a very thin layer of fat, similar to the back of your hand.

Next, look at your dog’s waist. Just like people, your dog should have a waist too. While their waist should not be extremely prominent, you should see a definite “tuck” behind their ribs when looking at them from above.

If you have a hard time feeling your dog’s ribs and notice that they do not have a waist, it is likely that they are overweight. Your veterinarian can confirm if your dog is overweight and ensure that the weight gain is not caused by an underlying medical condition.

Luxating Patella

Luxating patellas, also known as “floating kneecaps,” are common in Dachshunds. They are caused by the kneecap slipping out of its normal position. The condition often occurs simultaneously in both hind legs.

You may notice your Dachshund limping on their hind legs, or you may see a classic “skip” or “bunny hop” to their gait when they walk. Depending on the severity, some dogs do not require any treatment, while others need anti-inflammatory and pain medications, or even corrective surgery.

Giving your dog joint protection supplements and keeping them at a healthy weight may help prevent secondary issues related to luxating patellas.

Bloat

While most people consider bloat to be a large-dog condition, it also affects the Dachshund. It can be a simple bloat (when the stomach fills with gas) or a gastric torsion (when the stomach rotates on itself). Both conditions are life-threatening if not treated quickly and efficiently.

Symptoms of bloat include:

  • Swelling of the belly or a pot-bellied appearance

  • Pacing

  • Drooling

  • Vomiting/regurgitating

  • Licking lips

  • General malaise

Bloat can get serious very fast. So if you see any of these signs, take your Dachshund to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Deafness

Deafness can occur in Dachshund puppies whose parents are both dapples (their coat is mottled or spotted with patches of color). While there is no cure for this, deaf dogs can live long, healthy lives.

Dental Disease

Smaller dogs such as Dachshunds are more prone to periodontal disease due to tooth crowding, so they may need dental procedures more often than larger dogs.

Your dog may have to be given a dental diet formulated to reduce the amount of plaque and tartar that accumulates on their teeth, in order to prevent oral diseases.

It’s important to brush your Dachshund’s teeth daily, and to start when they are puppies to get them used to the routine. Your veterinarian can recommend the best choice of toothpaste and dental supplements. It’s important to also have your Dachshund’s teeth professionally cleaned, usually once a year for middle-aged Dachshunds.

Ear Infections

Ear infections are common in Dachshunds due to their floppy ears. Moisture can be trapped inside the ear, causing bacteria and/or yeast to overpopulate and leading to an ear infection. Ear infections may also be due to allergies to the indoor or outdoor environment or to food.

It is controversial to use prophylactic (preventative) ear cleansers, which may sometimes cause a problem and are not advised unless a dog has a propensity toward ear infections. While it is important to clean your dog’s ears when needed, overcleaning or cleaning them when they do not have an issue can cause irritation to the ear canal and lead to an infection.

After your vet diagnoses an ear infection, most can be treated with a combination of a medicated ear cleanser and an ear antibiotic or anti-fungal cream.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy or seizures are typically inherited in Dachshunds, meaning they are genetic or idiopathic in nature. 

Idiopathic epilepsy is a seizure without a known cause and has an assumed genetic origin. The seizures commonly begin  when a dog is young, between 1 and 5 years old. If your dog is diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy, it means their neurological exam does not show any deficits, they do not have a known toxin ingestion or exposure, and there are no structural or metabolic disease conditions causing the seizure. Neurological deficits are an indication that there is abnormal body function. This abnormality would be related to a lesion in the brain, spinal cord, muscles, or nerves.

There are two kinds of seizures in Dachshunds: generalized and focal. Generalized seizures affect the entire body. Your dog is usually not aware of their surroundings, drools excessively, and urinates or defecates during the seizure. Focal seizures are more subtle; they cause facial twitching, chewing movements, or paddling of the limbs.

If you notice any seizure activity or suspect your Dachshund has had a seizure, it is important to have them examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will perform a complete physical and neurologic examination, run bloodwork, do urine testing, and possibly recommend an x-ray or ultrasound to determine the cause of the seizure activity.

Anti-convulsant medications can control these types of seizures in dogs. A responsible Dachshund breeder should screen for genetic markers that might cause seizures in dogs.

Eye Problems

Eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) are all common in Dachshunds and can cause blindness. These conditions are likely genetic and therefore are not preventable.

Common symptoms of eye problems are:

  • Cloudy eyes

  • Red, swollen, or irritated (with discharge) eyes

  • Bumping into things

  • Anxiety or hesitation in new places

  • Unwillingness to go up or down stairs or climb on or off furniture

  • Pawing at face

  • Confused, dazed, or startled behavior

PRA is not treatable; glaucoma and cataracts are treated with surgery. Eye drops help with pain or secondary symptoms. Most dogs adjust very well to limited or no vision. Your veterinarian can watch for these eye problems, and breeders may be able to screen for them.

What to Feed a Dachshund

Dachshunds require a high-quality, age-appropriate (puppy, adult, or senior) diet to meet their nutritional needs. Dog food labeled for “all lifestages” should only be used for puppies, as these foods are not usually formulated for older dogs.

It is highly recommended that all dogs eat an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)-approved diet, which ensures that ingredients in the food meet established standards.

Avoid feeding your Dachshund table scraps and animal bones; they may cause vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, or gastrointestinal obstruction. Many human foods also have a high fat content, which can lead to serious complications like pancreatitis.

Remember that the Dachshund's acute sense of smell can get them into trouble, and always keep human food out of reach.

How Much to Feed a Dachshund 

How much you feed should be determined by the specific food your Dachshund eats. Your veterinarian and the feeding instructions on the bag of food will help you find the right amount to keep your Dachshund at a healthy weight.

Do not overfeed your Dachshund. Overweight Dachshunds are at a higher risk for back injuries.

How to Feed a Dachshund 

In general, puppies should be fed 3-4 times a day, while adult dogs should be fed 2 times a day.

Diets formulated for small breeds are a good fit for Dachshunds, because they tend to have a smaller kibble size that makes them easier to chew.

Avoiding obesity and maintaining lean body weight will help decrease the likelihood of disease as well as back and knee problems.

Nutritional Tips for a Dachshund

You may want to consider the following dietary supplements for your Dachshund:

  • Glucosamine, chondroitin, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) supplements promote joint health.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) have anti-inflammatory properties and promote healthy skin and coat when given at appropriate doses.

Although there are no measurable effects of antioxidants or vitamins in dogs with PRA, they may reduce stress on the special lens cells in the eye and delay cataract development.

Other vitamin and mineral supplements are generally not needed for healthy puppies and adults, as they get all they need from their AAFCO-approved diet.

Behavior and Training Tips for a Dachshund

Dachshund Personality and Temperament 

Dachshunds are playful and friendly dogs that make great pets for a first-time pet parent. They are good for apartments and small houses, but they do tend to bark a lot. Dachshunds are very social and they do not do well as outdoor dogs; they want to be with their humans inside and as part of the family.

They are intelligent and brave. They love mental challenges like puzzle games or scent-tracking sports. However, be careful with them during high-energy activities to avoid back injuries.

Dachshunds do not always get along with other dogs and cats without being well socialized from a young age. They often prefer to be your one-and-only pup.

It can be a challenge for a Dachshund to be in a home with young children, as they tend to play too rough and may bite. They are more likely to get along with older children. Dachshunds are known to bite more often than German Shepherds.

Dachshund Behavior

Dachshunds are known to be confident, problem solvers, and quite playful.  They have an excellent sense of smell as well as a strong prey drive.

They were bred to stay focused and follow a trail without distraction, so if they are busy with something more interesting they may not always pay attention to you.

Dachshunds like to dig, which may cause damage to your potted plants and yard. Keep that in mind and provide alternative activities for your dog.

Dachshunds are also a very vocal breed and do bark a lot.

Dachshund Training

Dachshunds are very intelligent but are also independent and often stubborn, so they can be a challenge to train.

They do well with positive reinforcement training. This method uses special treats, toys, and lots of praise to encourage them. Since Dachshunds love to give and receive affection, they do best with this reward-based training. They are sensitive and do not respond well to harsh commands or reprimands.  

Keep the training sessions short. Use their favorite treats to keep them enthusiastic about learning. If they lose patience and get distracted by a sound or smell, take a break and continue their training later.

Dachshunds were bred as hunting dogs for badgers, so if they’re left alone in a yard they will hunt any small-sized animal they see and will dig holes. If you are looking for a healthy outlet for these instincts, consider Earthdog, which is a dog sport involving a simulated underground hunting scenario.

Dachshunds have a powerful nose, so they respond well to any scent-based game. Play hide-and-seek with treats to grab their attention and give them mental stimulation.

Fun Activities for a Dachshund 

Even though they are small, Dachshunds need regular exercise to stay fit and build strong muscles to support and protect their backs. They should lead active lifestyles and have daily walks of reasonable length (about 30 minutes).

To avoid injury, do not let your Dachshund run up or down staircases or jump on or off furniture.

With this in mind, consider the following fun activities for your dog:

  • Earthdog

  • Scent tracking

  • Nose work

  • Puzzle toys

  • Interactive feeders

Dachshund Grooming Guide

Dachshunds are low shedders, depending on their coat types. They need their nails trimmed at least once a month. It’s time to cut their nails when you will hear them tapping on your tile or wood floors.

Skin Care

Dachshunds don’t need to be bathed often, but their bellies may need more frequent brushing as they are so close to the ground.

Coat Care

Dachshund Coat Types

Smooth-coated Dachshunds required the least maintenance and can be wiped down with a towel or a “hound glove” to make their coat shine. Bathing once every few months is usually adequate.

Longhaired Dachshunds require frequent brushing, depending on the coat’s thickness, and they are prone to getting mats or tangles. They must be brushed out completely at least once a week. A slicker brush detangles the hair, and a bristle brush keeps the coat shiny.

Wirehaired Dachshunds can be “plucked” or “hand-stripped” a few times a year to help maintain their coat. They are easy to maintain with an occasional trim of their beard and eyebrows. Brushing once a week might be needed for them.

Eye Care

All dogs have a natural eye stain, called porphyrin, in their tears that comes out a brown-reddish color. You can use a special eye wipe—such as Angels’ Eyes products—to clean the stain or discharge.

Ear Care

A general guideline for ear care is to check your dog’s ears for excessive wax once a month. You can look at their ears when you are bathing them, brushing them, or trimming their nails. 

Considerations for Pet Parents

Dachshunds can be great companion pets for people in smaller homes or apartment. However, they are quite vocal dogs, so you will need to put in some training to redirect barking behaviors. 

This breed is also very susceptible to back injuries, so any prospective owners will need to be prepared to take precautions to help support their Dachshund's back health. 

This is a rambunctious and smart dog breed, so mental stimulation and consistent training are important to help build good behavior.

Dachshund FAQs

Is a Dachshund a good family dog?

Dachshunds can make great family dogs, but that’s not always the case. This breed can be aggressive with young children and other pets, and needs socialization and continual positive reinforcement training.

They are social creatures, so having a “pack” of humans and even other animals can be great for them if they are well socialized when they are young. Like any other dog breed, they should not be left unsupervised with young children. It is also very important to teach children to treat dogs with respect and kindness if that is what they want in return.

Are Dachshunds smart dogs?

Yes, Dachshunds are undeniably smart and are great at solving problems. Most love puzzles and other interactive toys to play with every day. While they are smart, they are also stubborn. This means training may take more time—but it is not due to a lack of intelligence.

What are the drawbacks of a Dachshund?

Dachshunds are highly susceptible to back problems because of their long spine. Dachshund owners need to be proactive in protecting their dog’s back from injury. This means you need add ramps and stairs to furniture to prevent potential jumping injuries. You should also avoid letting your dog jump on and off furniture or run up and down staircases.

Another drawback is that they can be aggressive, especially with young kids and other pets.

Dachshunds also like to dig, and they can bark excessively.

How much does a Dachshund cost?

The average price for a Dachshund puppy is from $250 to above $5,000, depending on the dog’s markings/coat, breeder, pedigree papers, and health screenings.

Dachshund rescue organizations and local shelters can also help you find a purebred to adopt.

Do Dachshunds get along with other animals?

If you want your Dachshund to pair well with another dog, it is good practice to make sure that their personalities match.

Dachshunds may not like other dogs because they get jealous when other dogs share the love and attention of their pet parent. It is mainly due to their loyalty; but with proper training, Dachshunds can be trained to live peacefully with other dogs.

Featured Image: iStock.com/slowmotiongliWhat 


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