The wiener dog, the doxie, the dachshund. No matter what you call it, this is one of the most endearing and distinctive dog breeds. Known for their unique shape and charming attitude, they can quickly become the main character in any home—or dog park.
If you’re thinking about bringing a dachshund into your family, you may be trying to research what this new commitment will entail. Although dachshunds are, overall, a fairly healthy dog breed, there are a few health issues that potential owners should be aware of. And although some of these dachshund health problems may be genetic, many can be avoided through healthy lifestyles and proper care.
If you are wondering, how long do dachshunds live, some of these health factors may also affect your dachshund’s lifespan. Scroll through to discover common dachshund health issues and how they can be prevented.
#1 Back Issues
The dachshund’s unique shape is part of what makes it so distinct and adorable. It’s also, unfortunately, a potential trigger for several health problems. It’s estimated that about 25% of all doxies will experience back issues, like Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), throughout their lifetimes.1
You may know IVDD by the names of ruptured, bulging, herniated, or slipped discs. Intervertebral discs, much like human discs, allow spines to move, hold the bones together, and help protect the spine. IVDD occurs when one of the discs becomes rigid and “slips” in, pressing on the spinal cord. A dog with IVDD may need therapy or surgery, depending on the severity of the case. If you notice your dog may be in pain, bring them to the vet immediately because if left untreated, IVDD can cause paralysis in your sweet pooch.
Making sure your dachshund is regularly exercising and maintaining a healthy weight can help them avoid some of these more serious dachshund health problems. These practices can help keep your dachshund’s spine in shape:
- Invest in furniture ramps – Jumping on and off the couch to reach their prized position (your lap) can put a big strain on a dachshund’s elongated back. As a dachshund owner, help your pupwith a furniture ramp. Although you could go for pet steps, “Dachshunds get frustrated with them and often jump off in the middle of their trip up or down,” veterinarian Dr. Gaemia Tracy told PetMD.2
- Carry them up stairs – Stairs require a dachshund to twist and contort their back, both when going down and coming up. It will help your pup in the long term if you give them a lift whenever they have to navigate stairs. (And it gives you both an extra opportunity to cuddle.)
- Install baby gates – If you live in a house with stairs, consider installing baby gates to keep your doggo from trying to navigate the stairwell on their own. It’s a no-stress way to help you limit and control the number of times they try to climb up or slide down.
And while you want to buy your pup plenty of dachshund toys, you’ll want to be careful that they don’t play too hard and hurt themselves.
#2 Dental Problems
Because of their unique shape, dachshund dentures are prone to overcrowding, which puts them at a higher risk of periodontal disease.
To help keep your good boy’s teeth strong, give him a chew stick. (You can do this every day—they won’t complain.) Brush his teeth two to three times per week and schedule regular professional cleaning appointments. If it seems excessive, just remember: you’re not just ensuring better overall dental health; you’re also getting less doggy breath. Everybody wins!
#3 Leg & Joint Ailments
Once again, one of the features that make dachshunds so doggone adorable also puts them at risk for health problems. Their short legs paired with their long torso puts pressure on their little dachshund bodies, which can predispose them to conditions like:
- Patellar luxation – Otherwise known as “loose knees,” patellar luxation is a painful condition that happens when your dog’s knee cap pops out from its groove. Because dachshunds have short legs, their knees are at different angles and more prone to popping out. If your dog is limping around the house, this may be the cause. If a veterinarian confirms, they’ll likely perform surgery on your dog’s knees.
- Hip dysplasia – This health issue starts when a dog is young (as young as six weeks) but owners won’t begin to notice it until their dog is a few years old. It’s caused by a deformity in the hip joint, which doesn’t allow the thigh bone to rest properly in the hip socket. Once again, if you notice your dog limping around, you should take them to the vet for a thorough examination.
#4 Heart Conditions
After old age, heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in dachshunds, so it’s important to keep your older dog’s ticker in tip-top shape.
Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease (DMVD) can set in when dachshunds are about 8 to 10 years old. Put simply, this is a leaky heart valve issue that, although serious, can be controlled with medication. And regular check-ups can help your vet catch this health issue before it’s something to be worried about.
One of the best preventative measures against DMVD is to keep your dog’s weight under control so their heart doesn’t have to work overtime.
#5 Stomach Troubles
Dachshunds are at risk for gastrointestinal issues, some of which are more serious than others:
- Gastroenteritis – Rough translation? “Stomach issues.” Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, which can be caused by anything from parasites to dietary issues. Depending on the cause, your vet may recommend medication or a change of diet.
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) – Although it may have similar symptoms to simple gastroenteritis, HGE is a more serious condition characterized by sudden and severe onset. You may notice bloody diarrhea or vomiting. If not treated immediately, this can be a life-threatening condition.
#6 Skin Issues
Although it’s completely normal for your doxie’s skin to itch and for them to scratch it, there are a few cases where their itchy skin could be a sign of a larger skin problem. . If you notice that their itching doesn’t seem to go away or if they scratch themselves to the point of bleeding, it’s time to call in a professional for support. The skin problem could be caused by:
- Allergies – A vet can conduct a test and potentially provide medication or recommendations to counteract your dog’s allergic reactions. Remember that dogs can also be allergic to specific food ingredients, which can present as itchy skin.
- Poor nutrition – If your dog isn’t receiving the proper vitamins and nutrients through their dog food, it could affect their coat and skin. This could happen due to low-quality food or if your dog is refusing food, due to another underlying health condition.
- Color-dilution alopecia – Doxies that come in diluted colors—known as isabella, the diluted version of chocolate brown, or blue, the dilution of black—are more prone to this condition, which can cause thinning hair or bald patches. If it isn’t properly managed, it could create secondary skin infections.
Dachshunds also have a higher-than-normal chance of developing skin cancer. Regularly check their skin to make sure they haven’t developed any abnormalities on or just beneath their skin. If you find something unusual, schedule an appointment with the veterinarian.
#7 Vision Problems
As dachshunds age, they may begin to develop issues in their eyes. These problems are fairly common for sausage dogs:3
- Cataracts – Cataracts are fairly common in older dogs and begin to appear as a cloudiness in their eyes. Although it can lead to blindness, cataracts are generally treatable through simple surgery.
- Glaucoma – Glaucoma is a painful eye condition that, if left untreated, can also lead to blindness. The condition occurs when fluids in your dog’s eye are built up and out of balance. You’ll notice that your dog’s eyes are red and may appear cloudy or bulging. Although it can’t be fully cured, it can be slowed down and managed through medication or surgical implants.
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KS) – Known as “dry eye,” this is usually not a very serious condition. It can be managed through medicated eye drops and shouldn’t seriously impact your dog’s quality of life (although it may be a little convenient for both of you).
- Retinal atrophy – This condition will, eventually, lead to blindness and may be more common in miniature long-haired dachshunds. It begins with difficulty seeing at night and progresses until a total loss of vision. Although there is no cure for this disease at the moment, scientists are actively working on treatment.
With an adorable face and a please-cuddle-me-now personality, it can be easy to spoil the dachshund in your life. But resist the urge to reward them with treats every single time they make your heart melt.
Because of their build, doxies can experience severe health consequences if they become even a little bit overweight. Excess weight can impact their skeletal health, muscular health, and the health of important organs like their heart.
Stay On Top of Health Issues with BARK
If you are considering getting a dachshund it is important that you not only know these top dachshund facts but also know how to properly care for your dog. Some dachshund owners may think that because their dog is small, they don’t need to exercise often. But doxies are hunting dogs at heart and love nothing more than getting outside and running around. Take your dog out twice a day for moderate-length walks to keep them happy and active.
In addition to exercise, a balanced and healthy diet may help dachshunds ward off health complications. Look for a kibble that includes essentials like taurine for heart health, a variety of vitamins for strong immunity, and omegas for top-of-the-line joints.
For an easy solution to their nutritional needs, BARK makes food for dachshunds, specifically. Get 25% off with code 25FOOD and free shipping!
- Celebrity Dachshund. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) in Dachshunds. https://celebritydachshund.com/pages/intervertebral-disc-disease-ivdd-in-dachshunds
- PetMD. 7 Ways to Treat and Prevent Back Problems in Dachshunds. https://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/7-ways-treat-and-prevent-back-problems-dachshunds
- Dachshund Central. Are Dachshunds Prone to Developing Eye Problems? https://dachshund-central.com/are-dachshunds-prone-to-developing-eye-problems/