A sweet, ‘sausage’ shaped dog with long ears and short limbs, the Dachshund has a unique body type. These dogs are well-loved for their warm temperaments and confident personalities. Despite their small size, most have the bravado of a much larger dog and little fazes them.
Due to the fact that their bodies are ‘shrunken’ and elongated, they are prone to certain medical issues. We should aim to prevent obesity, which should help keep them in good health and protect their joints.
The Dachshund is a German breed that was developed in the 1700s. Nowadays, they exist in both a Standard and Miniature size and come in three coat types. While some assume they have always been kept as companion animals, this is far from the truth. This hardy little dog was first employed as a hunter and would hunt animals such as rabbits and badgers and track larger wounded prey such as deer and boar. In fact, many breed members are still used for this purpose today.
Short with crooked legs and a long rectangular body, the Dachshund is also called a ‘sausage dog’. They have long muzzles and dark almond-shaped eyes. Their ears hang sweetly to the side of their face and are both long and wide.
As discussed, there are several coat types. Dachshunds can be smooth-haired, wire-haired or long-coated. Their fur comes in a wide array of colours including black, tan, cream and red.
While the standard Dachshund can weigh up to 12kg, the much smaller Miniature version tends to weigh from 4-5kg.
Confident, joyful, smart and tenacious; the Dachshund has a big personality. Some dogs can be independent and wilful, but most owners feel this only adds to their charm. They form close bonds with family members and can be taught to get on well with other pets. Most are suspicious of new people arriving to the home and may bark loudly.
While you may assume these dogs will be quiet and low-energy due to their size, this is far from the truth. If not provided with ample stimulation, this breed can develop nuisance habits such as furniture chewing and garden digging.
We do need to be aware of several health issues that exist within the Dachshund population including:
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): This devastating condition is more common in those with long backs and the Dachshund is well known for being affected. Compression on the spinal cord can cause a range of symptoms including pain, weakness and even paralysis. Owners can work at preventing this condition by keeping their dog slim, using a body harness rather than a neck collar, avoiding steps and jumps and trying to keep the dog’s spine horizontal when they are lifted or carried.
Otitis Externa (Ear infections): Signs of ear infections include head shaking, red canals, a build-up of wax and a foul smell coming from the ear. A vet visit is needed to look inside the ears and to swab any discharge to determine what type of infection is present (parasitic, bacterial, fungal or mixed). Most dogs require prescription ear drops as well as oral anti-inflammatories. After the course of treatment is finished, it is sensible to have the pet re-examined to ensure the infection is completely gone.
Epilepsy: Those with epilepsy will suffer from seizures which tend to present before the age of 5. Most seizures last 1 to 3 minutes and can cause signs including: Collapse, leg paddling, vocalisation and urination. Epileptic dogs are generally managed on daily anti-seizure medicine.
Mitral Valve Disease: The mitral valve separates the left atrium from the left ventricle. When the valve does not function correctly, blood flows in the wrong direction. This causes an audible heart murmur and will eventually lead to heart failure. Signs can include a cough, a reduced ability to exercise and a bloated abdomen. While not a condition that can be cured, many do well once started on medication and low sodium diets.
Obesity: Though not a specific health condition, Dachshunds are prone to packing on the pounds and this can dramatically reduce their quality of life. Being obese is not an inevitability, regardless of breed and owners can keep their dogs slim by exercising them and feeding them appropriately. Some will benefit from a specific diet such as Pooch & Mutt’s Slim & Slender kibble. It can help to use a kitchen scales to weigh out portions.
Smart but stubborn, the Dachshund is usually only cooperative when they think there is something in it for them. Therefore it is important to praise them when they comply and to keep them interested in training sessions with training treats such as Pooch & Mutt’s Duck and Rosemary Meaty Treats.
Your Dachshund’s grooming requirements will depend on their coat type. Longer fur will require more upkeep and owners should get their dog used to being brushed from a young age.
All should have their teeth cleaned on a daily basis to prevent periodontal disease. It is also good to get in the habit of checking your dog’s ear canals for any signs of redness or odour. Many will benefit from an ear cleaning every few weeks.
A solid 45 minutes of exercise each day is a good amount to aim for. These dogs love to be given the opportunity to sniff and scent off lead when possible. As discussed, try not to use neck collars and leashes when exercising; harnesses are more suited to their body shape.
One of the main considerations when it comes to the diet of the Dachshund is that they are not being over-fed. An obese Dachshund is at a much higher risk of joint disease such as IVDD. Stick to a high protein diet and consider adding a daily joint supplement.
You'll find a handy feeding calculator on every product page here at Pooch & Mutt to help you identify how much of our health led recipes are right for the age, size and weight of your dog.