Dachshunds have quite a unique body type compared to most dogs. Their long bodies sit low to the ground atop very short legs, and their long tails add even more length. Due to their distinct skeletal structure, Dachshunds are prone to health problems related to their environment as well as genetic problems that are common for long-bodied dogs. Because of to how they are bred, skeletal conditions of Dachshunds are near impossible to correct which can lead to a series of other health conditions.
Most Common Dachshund Health Problems
The Dachshund breed is subject to a list of health issues that every owner should be aware of when they consider adopting one. The most common health conditions found in Dachshunds include:
- Intervertebral Disk Disease
- Acanthosis Nigricans
- Various Eye Problems
- Skin Problems
Intervertebral Disk Disease
This condition involves herniated disks in the lower back and primarily affects dogs with stunted legs. Dachshunds are diagnosed with Intervertebral Disk Disease more than any other breed of dog, putting it at the top of the list of concerning health problems.
Due to their long backs and unique skeletal design, it’s important to prevent Dachshunds from partaking in activities that are strenuous on their spine.
The condition will cause severe pain in the lower back or neck of a dog.
Acanthosis Nigricans is a disease that is unique to the Dachshund. Symptoms include dark, thick skin around the dog’s armpits or groin area.
The origin of the condition is not clear, but affected dogs will typically not be bred.
This disease affects dogs between one to three years of age. It can sometimes be confused with canine obesity in Dachshunds but is actually caused by insufficient production of thyroid hormones.
Lymphocytic thyroiditis is most common for this breed. The most obvious symptoms are lethargy and a lack of energy which is concerning behavior for any young dog. Diagnosis can be difficult, but treatment is available and typically affordable for hypothyroidism in dogs.
A cataract is a condition where the lens of a dog’s eye is clouded and opaque. Cataracts in dogs are hereditary and can appear at any age. This common health issue in Dachshunds can lead to impaired vision or canine blindness. Currently, there is no known cure for cataracts, but nutritional supplementation can strengthen the lenses of the eyes.
Canine Glaucoma is a common condition for most dogs and a leading cause of blindness. It is caused by excess fluid in the eye. The condition can be hereditary, so all dogs should be tested before breeding.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Progressive Retinal Atrophy in dogs is a common eye condition seen in Dachshunds that is caused by an inherited disorder that affects the eye’s retina. This causes visual impairment in dogs that starts slow but progresses over time. Common symptoms include dilated pupils and night blindness. Unfortunately, there is no known cure.
Other eye conditions seen in Dachshunds include congenital night blindness, entropion, corneal dystrophy, walleye, keratoconjunctivitis, ectasia syndrome, tear duct anomalies, and microphthalmia.
Compared to other breeds, Dachshunds seem to have fewer than average inherited genetic health problems, but the most common problem is back injuries. A Dachshund’s back is constantly at risk for potential injury.
Because of their unique shape and height, Dachshunds are prone to physical hazards. Excessive running, stair climbing, jumping, and other high-impact activities can result in injury or serious diseases of a Dachshund’s vertebrae.
Due to their distinctive body shape and short legs, obesity is a common health problem in Dachshunds. The condition can affect their joints, heart, and lungs. An overweight Dachshund may be at risk for other severe health issues including back problems, as obesity can cause extra weight to pull on their lower backs. Dachshund owners should monitor their pet’s weight. The cause of obesity can be prevented and reversed in dogs with a proper diet and regular exercise.
Dachshunds can suffer from a variety of different skin problems including flea allergy dermatitis, food reactions, and Sarcoptic Mange. These conditions can be diagnosed by a vet and are treatable with medication or a modified diet. Symptoms of skin problems in Dachshunds include itchy skin, a flaky coat, hair loss, or inflamed skin.
The most common of the three skin conditions is flea allergy dermatitis which occurs mostly in the summer and fall seasons when fleas are present. If you notice your pet is itching excessively or biting and scratching the base of his tail, a trip to the vet is a good idea.
Other Health Issues
Aside from the most common health issues for the breed, Dachshund owners should also be aware of a list of other Dachshund health issues that are less common including:
- Excessive hardening of the bones
- Cutaneous Asthenia
- Kidney Problems
- Urinary Tract Problems
- Blood Disease
How to Keep Your Dachshund Healthy
Although Dachshunds are susceptible to a variety of health problems, there are certain steps owners can take to help their pet live their healthiest life.
It’s a good idea for all pet owners to find a formula that will best fit the digestive needs of their dog. A lot of dog food companies offer breed-specific choices for varying sizes of dogs. The Dachshund is a small breed and should be fed food that caters to the breed’s size.
Additionally, puppies and adult dogs have different nutritional requirements. The best way to find the right frequency of meals for your dog is to consult the breeder or a veterinarian. Fresh water should also be accessible to your dog at all times.
Dachshunds are naturally curious and playful animals. They require moderate exercise and can adapt to most living environments.
Regular walks are important for this breed as they require consistent exercise but are prone to injury with activities that are too quick or strenuous. An overweight Dachshund will require extra exercise, but owners should keep their unique shape in mind and go easy on them to prevent injuries.
The coat on a Dachshund can vary. Some are bred with smooth coats, while others are wirehaired or longhaired. Dachshunds require regular bathing and brushing. Grooming your dog should be done more frequently if he has long hair. A Dachshund’s nails should be trimmed regularly in order to prevent cracking and overgrowth, and their teeth need to be brushed every few days. Additionally, their ears should be checked on a regular basis for wax buildup or debris which can cause infections.
Those interested in owning a Dachshund can work with a trusted breeder to gain insight on specific health problems within the breed. A good breeder will use genetic testing in order to reduce the risk of diseases and other health issues for their puppies.
Healthy parents and an experienced, caring breeder are the two best factors in producing healthy Dachshund puppies. Most health problems that dogs face can be tested in very young puppies. A good breeder will have these tests performed to that they can send the litter off to new homes with certificates of good health.
When to Consult a Vet
It’s important for Dachshund owners to know that when their pet is healthy, they will be playful, energetic, have a healthy appetite, and maintain a shiny coat. A dog in good health will interact with its family and exhibit seemingly endless enthusiasm. This is especially true for puppies and younger dogs.
That being said, if you notice any behavior changes or extreme dips in your Dachshund’s energy or appetite, it could be a sign of a serious health condition. Be aware of symptoms including lethargy, difficulty going to the bathroom, or vision impairment, as these could be signs of something worse. If any of these abnormal behaviors last for longer than 24 hours, it’s time to consult a vet.
Be sure to take note of all symptoms, as well as when they started, and relay this information to your veterinarian. Any information they get will help them properly diagnose your Dachshund.
When you notice something unusual, start analyzing whether your Dachshund’s personality has changed, if he is acting more aggressive than normal, or if he is not as playful as he usually is.
It might be that your dog is sleeping for much too long, or he is walking nervously around the house. Other signs may be that your dog is picking through his food, biting things he doesn’t typically bite, and eating or drinking too much or too little.
All dogs are susceptible to a variety of diseases, ailments, and other health problems. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to learn what the signs are for these health issues as well as how to treat and prevent them.
Additionally, those considering adopting a Dachshund should be aware of the breed’s history and risk for certain health conditions. Although Dachshunds are at risk for certain health problems, they won’t all suffer from serious diseases. The majority of the breed are healthy dogs. The best dog owners are well-informed and prepared to care for their dog to the best of their ability.