Purebred dogs come with certain advantages - especially if you want your dog to have a specific look, personality, temperament, and want to know exactly where they came from.
But there are some drawbacks to purebred dogs, particularly when it comes to their health. Inbreeding has strong roots historically, as many breeders chose to mate closely-related dogs that had an ideal appearance, and looked like the breed standard.
Although these days, responsible breeders aim to keep the genetic pool as wide as possible for purebred dogs, there are common genetic diseases in certain breeds. Body shape can play a significant factor.
Dachshunds are sweet little pups that use their little stubby legs to move from sniffing squirrels to jumping into your lap. As purebreds, they come with a slew of health issues - some obvious, like their problematic (and adorable) proportions, and others a little harder to spot.
If you own a dachshund or are thinking of getting one, familiarize yourself with the dachshund health problems below so that you can help recognize their early signs, and prevent issues for your little one as they age.
Do dachshunds have a lot of health problems?
Dachshunds, being a purebred dog, unquestionably come with their own set of health problems.
Are dachshunds any worse or better than other purebreds? Comparably, they’re not the worst off. Although they can struggle with some health and mobility issues, they have quite a long life expectancy at 12-16 years on average.
With proper care and management of issues, you can enjoy many happy years ahead with your pupster.
Dachshunds 101 - common dachshund health problems
Here is a list of the issues commonly plaguing dachshund health.
Disproportionate features causing back issues
This problem is apparent the minute you see a dachshund. Their adorably short legs support a comparably massive torso. It’s called disproportionate dwarfism, or chondrodysplasia, and is incredibly cute but puts a significant strain on a dachshund’s body over time and degenerates their spinal discs. The most common issues are dachshund back problems, affecting 25% of dachshunds over their lifetime.
Intervertebral disc disease
Dachshunds’ discs and vertebrae, the small bones in the spine, become brittle over time. This can cause slipped and ruptured discs, an excruciating issue that can make it difficult for your dog to walk.
Patella luxation is another common dachshund woe; they have loose knees because their short legs naturally place their kneecaps at an awkward angle. Their knees are more likely to pop out of place, causing the pup to limp.
Dachshunds can also suffer from hip dysplasia, which happens when the hip bone doesn’t form properly and doesn’t fit its joint. It can lead to the loss of use of the hind legs.
If your dachshund has lost the use of its hind legs or is struggling to walk, take it to the vet for a proper diagnosis, and get a treatment plan started.
Dachshunds can be more likely to develop certain eye conditions like glaucoma, dry eye, and cataracts.
These pups are more likely to have an underactive thyroid, called hypothyroidism, which can cause weight gain.
Small breed dogs are more prone to obesity, and dachshunds are no exception. Inactivity and improper diet will quickly lead to unhealthy weight gain in a dachshund.
Cancer can affect any dog of any size, breed, or age. Dachshunds are more prone to a few types of cancers, namely skin, fat cell, and anal sac cancers.
If you suspect cancer in your pup, head over to the vet to get a better diagnosis ASAP.
Skin conditions can arise if your dachshund struggles with hypothyroidism, which causes dryness and irritation. They’re also more prone to skin cancer and yeast infections that affect the skin.
Stomach and digestive issues are often expected within the dachshund breed. Some may have sensitive stomachs that don’t digest food well, whereas others can have a condition called gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the digestive tract. An underlying disease or intestinal parasites can cause these.
Dachshunds are at high-risk for developing hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, which has a sudden and severe onset. It can be potentially life-threatening if left untreated, has no known cause, and causes bloody diarrhea.
Should dachshunds climb stairs?
With most of the significant dachshund health problems related to their back, hips, and knees, climbing the stairs should be avoided.
Stairs were designed for humans, and even if your dachshund is young and in good shape, the steps are too high - the steps on an average staircase are 20-25cm tall, while the average height for a dachshund is 13-22cm.
Try to keep your dachshund on one floor of your home, or carry them up and down the stairs as you need. If you can’t keep them away from the stairs, you can put up baby gates to prevent them from running up or down the stairs.
Do dachshunds need a ramp?
Dachshunds can easily benefit from having a ramp. Sometimes a dachshund pup might be too small to reach even when their mobility is in peak condition. While they need to avoid jumping up and down on chairs, beds, couches, or even the car, they will still likely want access to these spots regularly.
You can lift them up and down, but if you’re away from home much of the day, your dog won’t be able to come and go as they please. One or two well-placed ramps in your home can give your pup a lot more independence and freedom while protecting their joints and bones.
You can get a dachshund ramp specifically designed with your dog’s size and measurements in mind. I’d suggest putting one beside the bed if they sleep up there and one beside their favorite couch or chair for easy access.
Dachshund care for prevention
Along with easing mobility issues with ramps and physical supports, you can prevent several dachshund problems and diseases by:
- Feeding your dachshund a well-balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight, and avoiding the temptation to provide your dog with human food;
- Supporting your dog on both ends of their body while holding them, to keep the spine in proper alignment;
- Exercising your dachshund daily by walking 45-60 minutes a day;
- Feeding your dog high-quality supplements to support all-over health;
- Keeping the pup’s eyes clean, trimming their fur around the eyes regularly, and promptly treating any eye infections.
Dachshunds, like any other dogs, come with their laundry list of potential health issues.
These don’t have to be a life sentence. Avoid many of them by introducing these things early - regular exercise, a healthy diet, carrying your pup up and down the stairs, and using a ramp can help them get the most out of their many days ahead, shared with us.