Everything you need to know about owning a Dachshund

Short, sassy, and a big personality – it could only be the Dachshund. These hot dogs are one of the most recognisable breeds on the planet, and it’s not hard to see why. Their short legs and long back are key characteristics of the modern Dachshund – or sausage dog – and it’s this look that’s made them so appealing to so many.

There’s no denying that the Dachshund is super cute, but as with any breed, it’s important to do some research into things like common health issues, how much exercise they need, and their temperament. For example, any Dachshund owner will tell you straight off the bat that they’ve got a lot of opinions – and they’ll let you know exactly what those are with their surprisingly loud bark!

Temperament – why is it important?

A dog’s temperament is an important factor to keep in mind – and this is true for any breed, not just the sausage dog.

Dachshunds are notoriously feisty, although their bark is most definitely bigger than their bite. These dogs are not aggressive, but they can be protective over their owners and wary of strangers. Socialisation from puppyhood is really important with Dachshunds, alongside a robust training plan as these little dogs are extremely intelligent but stubborn by nature.

All that being said, the sausage dog settles well into most homes. They’re particularly accommodating of apartment living, making them an appealing breed for urban dwellers. Because they’re small, and don’t need hours of exercise a day (up to an hour is just fine), they’re a popular first-time dog.

Common Dachshund health issues

None of us want to think about our dogs being unhealthy or unwell, but it’s important to be aware of certain breed-specific health concerns – being able to prevent, spot, and treat health issues means your dog will live a happier, healthier, and often longer life.

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

The most serious health issue that a Dachshund can face is what’s known as Intervertebral Disc Disease, or IVDD. Sausage dogs are prone to back issues – this is usually genetic. Breeding for longer backs and shorter legs increases the risk, as there is only so much strain the back can take and gravity has an impact. This is why the most common site of IVDD to occur is the centre of the spine where it’s under most pressure. An easy solution would be breeding more ethically towards shorter backs and less exaggerated features – that’s why it’s important to work with a responsible breeder if you’re looking to get a puppy as they will run health checks on the parents to eliminate or reduce the risk of IVDD.

The symptoms of IVDD are quite clear, so if you spot your dog suffering from any of these, it’s important to take them to a vet immediately:

  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Difficulty moving their rear legs
  • Paralysis

Your vet will be able to diagnose the severity of the disease; the treatment for IVDD varies. In very serious cases, there’s a potential for complete paralysis, and a lifetime in a dog wheelchair. For less severe cases of IVDD, the treatment may involve anti-inflammatories, crate rest or surgery to remove the affected discs. There is a significant impact on quality of life and wellbeing that comes with IVDD, so prevention of the disease and correct treatment are important factors to consider.

There are lots of things you can do to prevent or delay your dog from developing IVDD, including:

  • Making sure if you are considering buying a puppy, the breeder has carried out full health checks on the parents to eliminate a genetic risk of IVDD, and is breeding for a more moderate and healthy, rather than extreme appearance (namely back length)
  • Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce strain on their back and legs
  • Not allowing them to jump up or off of things like chairs and sofas (you can get ramps or small steps to help them up instead)
  • Use mats and rugs on slippery floors
  • Carrying them up/down flights of stairs, as climbing stairs places pressure on the centre of their back

For some Dachshunds, there’s no way to prevent IVDD completely, but by eliminating some of the risk factors,  you can give them the best chance of a happy, healthy life.

Weight

Like a lot of small dogs, Dachshunds can be prone to weight gain. Carrying extra weight can add strain to your Dachshund’s legs and back, causing pain, joint issues, and contributing to their risk of IVDD.

Feeding a balanced diet is important, as is making sure that your Dachshund gets a good amount of exercise each day. When your Dachshund is still growing, try not to over exercise them, as this can impact their growth and development. A good rule of thumb is 5 minutes of exercise for each month of their age, 2-3 times a day – it’s good to make sure your puppy is getting a healthy amount of exercise and socialisation, especially when they’re young. Fully grown adult Dachshunds can enjoy longer walks – usually an hour or so – per day.

Find out more: How much exercise do puppies need?

Our story: Rosie Kelly-Smith and Ruby

5 thoughts on “Everything you need to know about owning a Dachshund”

  1. We have two Sausages both rescue IVDD dogs one male Zeus who is walking again a bit drunkenly but walking the other a female called Rosa Luna Hufflepoof (we didn’t name her) she is trying but we think she’ll need wheels.
    They both are typical Dachshund’s stubborn but loving, we have adopted Zeus and fostering Rosa we probably will adopt Rosa watch this space!

    Reply
  2. I have tails for my 3 dashunds buddy my middle one has IVDD and is overweight so hopefully he will loose some weight with the help of tails but he cannot walk far so I’m between a rock and hard plate

    Reply
  3. Dachshunds are most probably my favourite dog breed. I had a rescue sausage dog and she was part of our life’s for 14 wonderful years . We got her when she was about 2 years old. Feisty and cheeky as hell! She danced for her food, didn’t really know why the other dogs chased the ball but joined in. She did develop a back problem after we had her for 2 years and subsequently had the operation. That gave her a new lease on life and another happy 12 years with us. We sadly had to put her to sleep in December 2021 when she lost complete control of her bowel control. A very sad day for us and I still miss her every day.

    Reply
  4. I have had my Dachsund for 11 years and he is the most loving and protective little dog. He had to have surgery for IVDD four years ago and I was terrified I was going to lose him but the Surgeon was amazing.
    They are feisty and so stubborn but also amazing company.

    Reply
  5. Lovely read, really informative and factual.
    I have WCS’s but always interested in reading about other breeds.
    I know a couple of dautch hounds and they are really sweet little dogs.
    😊🥰🐾🐾

    Reply

Leave a comment