10 things to know before getting a Dachshund
Cute, slinky, sweet and full of personality, there's lots to love about the beloved sausage dog!
Is it any wonder they're one of the UK's most popular breeds?
The number of registered dachshunds has risen from 2,857 in 2011 to more than 14,800 in 2021 alone!
We're a nation of sausage lovers, and we don't care who knows it!
But dainty as they are, just like any pet, they're still a big responsibility!
If you're considering adding a dachshund to your family, here are ten things you really need to know beforehand!
They are prone to IVDD
Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) commonly known as a “slipped disc” is a very painful condition.
IVDD is by far the most common health problem in dachshunds due to their long bodies.
And reports suggest around one in four may be affected at some stage in their lives! No surprise there as IVDD is highly heritable, meaning it runs in families.
Whilst many recover well in time, there is a significant risk of permanent damage so severe it’s life-changing or threatening.
Sadly, it iisn’t always possible to prevent IVDD. But you can reduce the risk by picking a responsible breeder (use Petify for this) and taking the below precautions.
How to prevent IVDD:
- Prevent obesity - Feed a nutritionally complete diet and do not overfeed. Choosing an appropriate pet food that suits your budget can be difficult as there is so much choice out there. If you need help picking the right food or you’re concerned about your dachshund's weight, speak to a Buddy nurse.
- Discourage jumping - Discourage your dachshund from jumping up at guests when greeting them, and on and off furniture! Make your dachshund sit for food and treats and never pet them if they jump up as strokes = reward.
- Limit / avoid stairs - Stairs generally aren’t a good idea for dachshunds and other short legged, long-backed breeds. Especially those with a compromised back and ones which have been diagnosed with IVDD. But there’s always a way around the stairs problem! Scoop your little buddy up when faced with stairs or invest in some of the below!
- Introduce Omega 3’s - Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation, which is a major contributing factor in many disease processes. Our Omega Care supplement isn't just amazing for keeping cats' and dogs' skin and coats healthy.
It's packed with scientifically proven ingredients that play an essential role in the healthy functioning of the brain, heart and joints.
- Use ramps, gates and crates - Ramps are ideal for helping your dachshund get on and off furniture, beds, up and down steps or into vehicles. This helps prevent stress on the back and spine from constantly jumping up and down. Baby gates around the home and garden can also help limit unsupervised access up flights of stairs. Crate training is also a good idea for your sausage dog. Crate rest is often recommended by vets for any kind of spinal issues or if an IVDD episode occurs. If your pup is content sleeping and relaxing in a crate it will be much easier for them to settle if they have problems.
- Keep nails trimmed - Keeping your dog's nails trimmed is extremely important as it helps to maintain a healthy back posture. Long, overgrown nails change a dog’s posture and can hurt an already compromised back. Long nails can even cause problems where none exist as they can be painful and cause a dog to lose traction. This makes it easier for them to slip and fall, causing additional pain or worse, injury. If you’re not comfortable clipping your dog's nails yourself, download tuft to find a trusted dog groomer near you!
- Use non-slip mats - This quick and low-cost solution will protect your dachshund from slipping around the house. Place them next to your dogs’ bed on the floor so they don’t go sliding when they are getting up and at feeding areas.
- Use orthopaedic bed - You wouldn’t want to sleep on a hard floor if you had a bad back, and neither does your buddy! Invest in orthopaedic beds in the rooms that your dog spends the most time in. Memory foam mattresses can also provide ultimate comfort and support.
- Invest in raised food bowls - This will help your doggo eat at a level without having to lower or stretch their neck. This eliminates putting unnecessary strain on the neck.
- Get moderate exercise - Keeping your dachshund fit and healthy helps to prevent IVDD. Keep those muscles strong and toned with regular short daily walks.
- Consider getting a dog stroller or bag - For older dachshunds a stroller can be a worthwhile investment. It’s important for your sausage to keep fit and still be able to have daily walks. But, this should not be excessive and a stroller or dog friendly backpack on longer walks can give them the rest they need between exercise.
- Use a harness instead of a collar - Collars can put a strain on your dog’s neck. Just think all that pulling and jerking can’t be comfortable, especially if your buddy already has a bad back. It could cause an injury to any dog! A harness removes this risk as all the force is placed on the chest instead. Using a harness protects your dog’s neck, spine and oesophagus.
- Create a dedicated sleeping space -If you’re not crate training, create a dedicate safe space for your dachshund to retreat to instead. Blankets and rugs in the sleeping area can support your dachshund when getting up and stop them slipping and causing injury on hard floors.
The first signs of IVDD in Dachshunds
Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the IVDD but can include:
- Holding the neck low
- Unable to fully lifted the head
- Neck or back pain
- Weak/uncoordinated movement
- Limping on one or both front limbs
- Urinary incontinence
- Paralysis in four limbs or difficulty breathing (severe cases that are surgical emergencies)
- Hunched back/stiff appearance
The most severe cases can be very upsetting for pet parents to watch as they can involve lost bladder function, inability to feel painful sensations and/or paralysis.
Treatment costs vary a lot for IVDD depending on the type of treatment needed. But costs can easily add up to several thousands of pounds.
If you’re welcoming a dachshund into your family, we highly recommend taking out pet insurance from the get-go.
Many pet insurance providers don’t cover pre-existing conditions and will not treat IVDD once your dog has been diagnosed.
They're the smallest hound
The breed generally comes in three sizes depending on where you are in the world! Kaninchen, mini and standard.
Kaninchen (rabbit) is the smallest usually weighing in at under 4.5kg. Mini are then the next size up but their weights can vary.
The breed specification says their ideal weight is 4.5-5kg. However, there are a lot of dachshunds weighing in much heavier but not making it into the standard dachshund size which is 9-14kg!
Dachshunds are either short hair, wire hair or long hair. Weirdly the temperaments for each of these different hair types vary.
All the coats are easy to care for. For wires they may need hand stripping or clipping a few times a year depending how shaggy you like them to look.
A good trim around the eyes, paws, bum and genitals may be all that is needed. Long hairs will need regular brushing and feet and trouser trims.
You will find all the hair types will moult at some point in the year. Oddly the short hairs moult more than the wires or longs in my experience!
They love food
You must be very careful not to overfeed. Tiny as they are Dachshunds have a large appetite compared to other dogs.
Obese dachshunds are more prone to health conditions.
Licky mats and slow feeders can help to slow down their energetic eating habits along with providing excellent mental stimulation.
They don't know they're small
They have big personalities and won’t be ignored.
Have you heard the term small dog syndrome? Well, these teeny tiny guys are the epitome of that!
Even their barks are big and loud! If you are looking for a calm, gentle lapdog then dachshunds probably aren't the breed for you!
They have lots of energy and are brave and fierce. This isn’t to say they don’t like a good cuddle though as they are also very affectionate.
They love to burrow and dig
If you have a beloved garden, there are ways you can train your dachshund to dig in designated areas!
Find a suitable spot and encourage digging by burying treats, toys etc in a very shallow area. A sand pit can also be another great digging place for dachshunds.
Positive praise and treats should be given when they are digging in the right area and ignore (I know it’s hard) when they dig in the prized flower bed.
They can be very difficult to toilet train
Dachshund are notoriously difficult to potty train compared to other breeds.
Their curious nature means they are often easily distracted outdoors. They might wander off to find that interesting smell instead of focusing on the task at hand which makes toilet training a challenge.
Because of this, you may find that your carpet or rugs are often the prime peeing spot for your dachshund. Especially if it’s raining out!
Set aside plenty of time to watch your dachshund, stick to a routine and let them out often. Some people suggest setting a timer for every 20 mins to let your doxie out when they’re a puppy.
If you don't have a secure garden to let them out regularly, there are other things you can do.
Place a strip of artificial grass by the back door, preferably undercover for the bad weather days.
Use positive praise and make use of their big appetite! Give little treats when they pee and poo on the artificial grass/your area of choice.
Puppy toilet training tips:
They only have little bladders, so give plenty of opportunity to toilet outside.
If you find they are distracted and having a good sniff around or playing rather than concentrating on peeing.
Take them inside, give them a fuss, a treat, a little play and take them back outside and encourage them to their pee place again. That little distraction can work wonders.
Use a command word. Pick a short phrase or word “go pee” “go toilet” “have a wee” “have a poo” etc. Use this every time your dachshund does one of these things.
After a week or two they will start to recognise this and will pee and poop on command.
Always include lots of positive praise, encouragement and treats too!
They were bred to hunt badgers
They are fearsome hunters! They were bred in Germany to burrow into the dens of prey and hunt small animals such as rabbits and badgers.
In some parts of Europe, they are still used for hunting. In Spain they are even used to hunt wild boar!
Because of this, their prey drive is strong, and they can easily become distracted if they see or smell something they think is more interesting.
This can make them difficult to train so if you’re still prepared to take on this boisterous breed, patience is a must.
They love to steal and chew
Nothing will be your own. Your shoes, socks, food and all your worldly possessions may end up chewed or in their bed.
Be very careful as some of your possessions can be small enough to be chewed and eaten resulting in a blockage in the stomach or intestines.
This can be life threatening and usually requires hospitalisation in your local vets with surgery.
Keep all prized possessions and potentially hazardous items off the floor and store them safely away out of paws reach!
They are stubborn and bossy too
When we say bossy, we mean bossy with a capital BORK. They not only will bark at you to tell you what they want, but they will bark at siblings, other pets, anything really.
But their stubborn temperament isn’t really their fault. They were bred to act independently while hunting prey, to never back down and follow their natural instincts.
Never punish your Dachshund for being stubborn. Instead, start training as soon as you bring them home, communicate clearly and try and remove distractions during training time.
They have average life span of 12 years
Sometimes even longer. With the best preventative healthcare, love and attention your dachshund can be with you for many healthy and happy years.
According to the internet, the oldest dachshund of all time, on record was Rocky, who lived to 25 years! That's 175 years in dog years!