Not all Dachshunds will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.
- Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Dachshunds are especially prone to having back problems. This may be due to genetics, moving the wrong way, or falling or jumping on or off furniture. Symptoms of a problem include an inability to raise up on the rear legs, paralysis, and sometimes loss of bowel and bladder control. It’s important to always support your Dachshund’s back and rear when holding him. Treatment may consist of anything from crate confinement with anti-inflammatory medications to surgery to remove the discs that are causing the problem or even confining the dog to a doggie wheelchair. Some owners have found that they can help ward off problems by taking their Dachshunds to chiropractors, acupuncturists, or rehabilitation therapists who have experience working with dogs.
- Epilepsy: Dachshunds are prone to having epileptic seizes. In dogs that are affected, it’s thought that the condition is either genetic or brought about as the result of a fall or a hard blow to the head. If your Dachshund has seizures, take him to your vet to determine what treatment is appropriate. In many cases, epilepsy can be controlled with medication.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): This is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. Fortunately, dogs can use their other senses to compensate for blindness, and a blind dog can live a full and happy life. Just don’t make it a habit to move the furniture around. Reputable breeders have their dogs’ eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist and do not breed dogs with this disease. A DNA test for PRA is available for miniature longhaired Dachshunds.
- Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) Also called Bloat or Torsion: This is a life-threatening condition that most often affects large dogs, but because of their deep chests, it also can affect Dachshunds. GDV occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists (torsion). The dog is unable to belch or vomit to rid itself of the excess air in its stomach, and the normal return of blood to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. This is a medical emergency. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen, is salivating excessively and retching without throwing up. He also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak with a rapid heart rate. It’s important to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible. There is some indication that a tendency toward GDV is inherited.
- Cushings Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism): This condition occurs when the body produces too much of a hormone called cortisol. It can be due to an imbalance in the pituitary gland or in the adrenal gland, or it can occur when a dog has too much cortisol from other conditions. The most common signs are excess urination and excess drinking. If your Dachshund exhibits these signs, take him to the veterinarian. There are treatments to help with this disease from the removal of a gland to medications.
- Canine Diabetes Mellitus (DM): Diabetes is occasionally seen in Dachshunds, particularly if they’re overweight. Diabetes can be treated with diet and daily insulin injections. Signs include excessive urination and thirst and weight loss despite a ravenous appetite
- Deafness: Hearing loss isn’t common in the breed, but it can occur in double dapple Dachshunds. Ask if the puppy and its parents were BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) tested for hearing loss. This is not available in all areas but is available at most large specialty practices and teaching hospitals at veterinary schools. It can be done any time after the puppy is five weeks old.
If you’re buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
In Dachshunds, you should expect to see a health clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF), certifying that the eyes are normal.
Health clearances are not issued to dogs younger than 2 years of age. That’s because some health problems don’t appear until a dog reaches full maturity. For this reason, it’s often recommended that dogs not be bred until they are two or three years old.
Dachshunds have a lot of stamina and energy. They love to take a walk or play outdoors with other dogs, and they like to hunt and dig. They are also active inside the house and can do well in small living quarters so long as they get a moderate amount of daily exercise. Two half-mile walks a day (about 10 minutes each) is about right. Occasionally, when time is short, a game of fetch will meet their need for activity.
They’re not suited to living outdoors or in a kennel but should live in the home. Dachshunds can injure their backs jumping on and off furniture, so get a ramp or steps and teach them to use it if they want up on the sofa or bed. When you hold a Dachshund, always be careful to support his rear and his chest.
Dachshunds can learn quickly if properly motivated. Use positive reinforcements such as food rewards or a favorite toy to hold their attention, and keep training sessions short. The Dachshund will quickly become bored if made to repeat the same exercise over and over, so make obedience practice fun and interesting.
Housetraining can sometimes be a problem with this breed. A Dachshund may not see the need for eliminating outside. Patience and consistency are musts. Crate training helps as well.
Beyond housetraining, crate training is a kind way to ensure that your Dachshund doesn’t get into things he shouldn’t. Like every dog, Dachshunds can be destructive as puppies. Crate training at a young age will also help your Dachshund accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized. Never stick your Dachshund in a crate all day long, however. It’s not a jail, and he shouldn’t spend more than a few hours at a time in it except when he’s sleeping at night. Dachshunds are people dogs, and they aren’t meant to spend their lives locked up in a crate or kennel.
The Dachshund excels as a watchdog, but he can be noisy. Minis, in particular, can be yappy. Keep this in mind if your Dachshund will be living in an apartment or condo community.
Recommended daily amount: 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups of high-quality dry food a day
Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Smooth Dachshund’s coat is short and shiny. Single-colored Smooth Dachshunds often are red or cream, perhaps with some black hairs. Two-colored Smooth Dachshunds usually are black, chocolate, wild boar (grizzled), gray (blue) or Isabella (fawn) with tan or cream markings. Dappled Dachshunds have a dappled (merle) pattern in their coats, with light and dark colored areas in even distribution (neither the light nor the dark predominates). Whereas dark eyes are required and little or no white hair on the chest is acceptable for solid- and parti-colored Dachshunds, partially or wholly blue eyes and a large amount of white hair on the chest both acceptable for the dappled Dachshunds. Other color patterns are brindle, in which there are dark stripes all over the body, and sable, where there is an overall dark overlay of hair.
Wirehaired Dachshunds have a very different coat from the Smooth Dachshunds. They have short, thick, hard hair on the topcoat with a softer undercoat. The hard topcoat hair is found everywhere on the body except for the jaw, eyebrows, and ears. While all the colors found in the Smooth Dachshund are acceptable for the Wirehair, the most common color is wild boar.
Longhaired Dachshunds have glistening, slightly wavy long hair which gives them an elegant appearance. They come in the same colors found in Smooth Dachshunds.
Light-colored Dachshunds usually sport light gray, light hazel, green or blue eyes, rather than the various shades of brown. They can also have eyes of two different colors; in rare cases, such as the double-dapple coloration (in which varying amounts of white coloring occur over the body in addition to the dapple pattern), Dachshunds can have a blue and a brown eye.
Dachshunds are a low-maintenance breed. They shed, but not excessively. Unless they’ve rolled in something that smells bad, they generally don’t need to be bathed often and are free of doggie odor. Smooths can be wiped with a damp cloth between baths to keep them clean. If you live in a location that is cold in the winter, your Smooth Dachshund may need a sweater when he goes outside.
Wirehaired Dachshunds require regular brushing, and they’ll need to have their coats “stripped” two to three times a year to look their best. Ask the breeder from whom you got your Wirehaired Dachshund or your groomer to show you how to do this.
Longhaired Dachshunds must be brushed regularly to prevent mats from forming. They need to be bathed more often than the Smooth Dachshund, and you must blow-dry them afterward for their coat to look good.
For all varieties and sizes of Dachshunds, you need to pay special attention to their droopy ears, which can be a breeding ground for fungus, bacteria, and mites. Moisten a cotton ball with an ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian and wipe the ears out weekly. Don’t go any deeper than the first knuckle on your finger and never stick a cotton swab into your dog’s ear.
Other grooming needs include nail care and dental hygiene. Trim your Dachshund’s nails once or twice a month. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. The earlier you introduce your Dachshund to nail trimming the less stressful the experience is.
Brush the teeth at least two or three times a week — daily is better — to remove tartar and bacteria. Start when your puppy is young so he’ll be used to it.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Ears should smell good, without too much wax or gunk inside, and eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.